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Tuol Sleng daughters reconcile the past

Tuol Sleng daughters reconcile the past

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Huy Senghul (left) and Norng Chen Kimty stand in front of a photo of Norng Chen Kimty’s father Norng Chanphal, seen on the left in the background photo.

Huy Senghul and Norng Chen Kimty’s fathers were tormentor and victim, respectively, at the Khmer Rouge’s infamous Tuol Sleng interrogation facility, but the two now work together, at times sharing a desk, to document the crimes of the genocidal regime.

Their fathers, former Tuol Sleng executioner Him Huy and child survivor Norng Chanphal, have since quite remarkably reconciled, and the children now work as researchers at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, a key source of written evidence for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Both daughters share a common goal: to search for the truth about those slain during the three years, eight months and 20 days that the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia.

Huy Senghul, 20, said yesterday when the girls first became friends she felt guilty for her father’s involvement in the Khmer Rouge but then realised there was nothing to be ashamed of. “We don’t care about the past; we care about the future,” she said. “This is a sign of reconciliation, so we can both heal together.”

Norng Chanphal’s parents were both killed at Tuol Sleng. He was rescued from the facility by the Vietnamese days before Phnom Penh was liberated on January 7, 1979.  

Him Huy, who was responsible for transporting prisoners at Tuol Sleng to the Choeung Ek killing fields and also lost a family member incarcerated at  the interrogation facility, is now a farmer.  Norng Kimty, 15, said she felt she had come about half way to achieving her aim of discovering the truth about the regime, since joining the centre in 2009.  “So far I have found 50 percent of the truth through the documentation and the people who work here, and talking about it with my father,” Norng Kimty said.

She and Norng Chanphal are both conducting research to verify deaths during the Khmer Rouge before adding them to DC Cam’s Book of Memories.

One million of those names have so far been recorded and the pair expect to encounter at least another million.

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