Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Woman forced to remarry after husband’s execution



Woman forced to remarry after husband’s execution

Kul Nem testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC
Kul Nem testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC

Woman forced to remarry after husband’s execution

Less than a week after being shown blood-stained swords that hinted at the fresh execution of her husband, Nget Chat was forced to marry another man.

In a victim impact statement delivered before the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, Chat described how in 1978 her husband, from Kampuchea Krom, was marched away with a group of people, ostensibly to harvest corn. He had just returned from fetching their two small children.

“I saw military men . . . who came and their hands were carrying swords, and the swords were stained with blood, and they asked me whether I recognised anything,” she said. She recognised the clothes of one of her comrades. “I was so scared at that time. I thought my husband would have already been killed,” Chat said.

Three or four days after his disappearance, and still mourning his loss, she was forced to remarry. Chat, at just 20 years old, was paired with a much older man. His wife, also from Kampuchea Krom, had been killed, too.

“They said if I opposed, I would be sent to the upper level,” she said. “I felt afraid that I would die and be leaving my children behind, so I did not dare to oppose.”

Chat spoke of her suffering after a fellow civil party in Case 002/02 – in which former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are being tried for crimes against humanity – also confronted the courtroom with details of the harm the regime had inflicted on him.

Kul Nem, now in his mid-60s, told the tribunal of the “unsettling” situation he found himself in when, without realising it, he was taken to observe women as potential future wives. Nem, who had a fiancée in his home village at the time, was told he had three days to decide.

In order to survive, Nem said he would leave the decision in the hands of Angkar – the all-seeing Khmer Rouge “organisation” – and was subsequently married to an ethnically Phnong woman.

“We had to follow the proverb: ‘We should not to put our feet into the water while the boat was moving’,” Nem said, explaining why he did not refuse Angkar’s instructions. He said his new wife, her body ravaged by forced labour and exhaustion, miscarried twice.

“I was very angry, but I kept the anger in myself,” Nem said. “People like Khieu Samphan knew what happened, and if he says he does not know, that is his right . . . but then we should know from where such a policy came.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia's cluster cases jump to 259

    The Ministry of Health on February 27 recorded 26 more cases of Covid-19 linked to the February 20 community transmission, bringing the total to 259 in one week. The 26 include three Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. The ministry noted that five of the Chinese