Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Witness recounts forced abortion, study sessions

Witness recounts forced abortion, study sessions

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Witness Beit Boeurn testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during Case 002/02. ECCC

Witness recounts forced abortion, study sessions

When Beit Boeurn discovered she was newly pregnant in 1977, her Khmer Rouge superior ordered her to abort the baby.

Testifying as a witness at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, Boeurn, then a mid-level cadre with the Ministry of Commerce, said she was forced to have the abortion after her husband was arrested in a widespread purge.

“After my husband had been arrested, Comrade Ta told me that I had to get rid of my foetus; then they arranged a medic for that,” she said. “I was injected with some medicine. Then the foetus was destroyed.”

“I was told that Angkar required me to abort that foetus,” she said, referring to the Khmer Rouge’s omnipresent ruling apparatus, often said to have “as many eyes as a pineapple”.

Boeurn wiped her eyes with a tissue as she spoke about her husband’s disappearance. She said he was arrested because of his connection to Ta Hong, the deputy chief in charge of domestic and overseas commerce. “[Ta Hong] was implicated as a traitor and he was arrested at his office,” Boeurn said, adding that Hong’s wife, children and grandchildren were also rounded up.

Her husband had a premonition that he too would be “sent away”. “We never met each other again,” she said. Once chief of a production unit in the Commerce Ministry – where she oversaw the sorting of coffee beans and cotton at Phnom Penh’s Tuol Tompoung pagoda – Boeurn too was rounded up in the wake of her husband’s arrest.

She was taken to Kok Ksach pagoda on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to be “tempered”.

Boeurn’s account was the first testimony to be heard since a final appeal verdict – handed down last Wednesday – found former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty of crimes against humanity and upheld their sentences of life in prison.

That decision brought the first phase of the trial, known as Case 002/01, to a close, but the second phase, Case 002/02, which carries more charges, including genocide, continues.

Boeurn was yesterday quizzed on a handful of study sessions she attended, as part of a trial segment focused on determining the role of the accused in the alleged crimes.

She said she saw Pol Pot, his deputy Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan – whom she described as a communist party member immediately below Nuon Chea’s rank – at these education sessions, where participants were instructed to “smash” the enemy.

MOST VIEWED

  • Virus tops 84 with new cases in S’ville

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday night confirmed another 31 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the Kingdom’s total to 84 and it highest daily tally. There have been no fatalities thus far. The latest cases were found in 29 French tourists and their two Cambodian tour guides

  • Two French tourists latest Covid-19 cases in Kingdom

    The Kingdom on Saturday saw two more cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 53. While the majority of the previous cases are linked to a Muslim religious gathering in Malaysia, the latest cases involved two French tourists visiting Sihanoukville. The Ministry of Health said

  • Kingdom’s virus toll tops 84, Cambodians in Thailand rush home

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday night confirmed another 31 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the Kingdom’s total to 84 and its highest daily tally. There have been no fatalities thus far. The latest cases were found in 29 French tourists and their two Cambodian tour guides

  • NBC calls for cashless payments

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has urged government ministries, financial institutions and the public to conduct cashless payments via electronic systems where possible to combat the spread of Covid-19. “To contribute to the prevention of Covid-19, the National Bank of Cambodia encourages financial institutions

  • CEO held for fraud in Siem Reap

    Over 200 individuals gathered in front of the Siem Reap Provincial Court last week to ask that Dim Suonnath, the CEO of a real estate company being held for fraud, take responsibility for compensating some 2,000 residents who invested with him. The request was denied. Suonnath responded

  • Ministry calls for home schooling

    Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Hang Chuon Naron appealed to parents of students to provide home education in a proper environment and help them obtain more learning materials. The ministry also allowed schools to take a premature vacation after several people tested positive for