The Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday continued hearing evidence of the alleged targeted persecution of the Cham Muslim minority under the Pol Pot regime, though witness Seng Kuy’s testimony was at times marked by apparent speculation.
Nuon Chea defence counsel Victor Koppe made good on his pledge yesterday to not question Kuy, leaving questioning to Anita Guisse and Kong Sam Onn, counsel for Khieu Samphan.
Speaking about events that occurred after 1975 in Angkor Ban II, located in Kang Meas district, Kuy – who is ethnically Khmer – said that he was assigned farm work, specifically ploughing, and took his meals with about 600 others. Around 1976, he said, five to six Cham families arrived in his village.
“They were placed there to live and work with Khmer people,” he told the court.
However, the Cham men were sent to work in mobile units elsewhere. Eventually, only about 10 Cham people remained in the commune.
The remaining Chams, Kuy continued, were arrested by “communal forces” dressed in black with scarves around their necks, under the authority of Run, a cadre referred to by villagers as “the butcher”.
Those roundedup were taken to the Au Trakuon pagoda security centre.
“When Run arrested those Cham people, they said, ‘We will kill all the Cham people, and not spare anyone’,” Kuy said.
Based on this, Kuy said, it was his “observation” that the Khmer Rouge wanted to eliminate minority ethnicities such as the Cham people and Vietnamese, adding that after 1979, there were no more Cham Muslims in Angkor Ban commune.
He admitted, however, that he did not actually know what the radical communist regime did to these people.
President Nil Nonn chided Kuy for airing this conclusion in a court of law, saying that he was not an expert and therefore not in a position to speculate.Court is due to resume on September 14.