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

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials