Khmernews

Only 86 Out of 129 Graves in Cheung Aek Killing Field Dug Up

Posted by khmernews on March 9, 2007

Phnom Penh: Nhem Chanthen has been working as a guide for Cheung Aek Genocidal Center for four years. He said recently that in the past (before the Khmer Rouge regime)
Cheung Aek Genocidal Center was a graveyard for Chinese, but during the Khmer Rouge regime, it became of place where Khmer Rouge killed prisoners unmercifully. Most of the prisoners were professors and intellectuals who were kept and questioned in Toul Sleng prison and then taken to be killed over there. He says that there is a document which cites the death of 20,000 victims including workers, farmers, officials, soldiers, ambassadors, foreigners, and especially children and women. There were also 9 European victims including one Australian, 6 Americans, and 2 Frenchmen killed there, he adds.

Nhem Chanthen says that 129 graves were discovered during 1979-1980. Until now, 86 graves have been dug up, inside which 8985 corpses have been found. He continued that the evidence of cracked and broken skulls suggests that the Khmer Rouge used knives, hoes, and bamboo-trunks to kill people in the Cheung Aek Killing Field. Before they killed them, they blindfolded them, tied their hands, sat them down and then beat them from behind into the graves, he said.

He points out that among 86 graves which were dug up, there were three important graves, in which one (grave no.5) only children’s and women’s corpses are found. It is said that they [the Khmer Rouge] killed children by beating their heads with tree-trunks and then threw them into the graves. For women, the fact that there were no clothes on their corpses suggests that they might have been raped first and then killed.  In grave no.7, there are 166 corpses with no skulls. There has not been any conclusion on how the Khmer Rouge killed people in this grave yet as only sticks(or cart drive shafts) and bamboo-trunks were found. The biggest grave is grave no.6, inside which 450 corpses are found.

Nhem Chanthen said that after dug up in 1980, the bones and skulls of the victims were placed temporarily in a wooden building. In 1988, as the government wanted to preserve the bones and skulls of the 8985 victims which were found in the 86 graves, they built a memorial monument to keep them. Now Cheung Aek Genocidal Center has become a center of evidence for the existence of the Khmer Rouge regime.  

Extracted from Kampuchea Thmei. Vol.6, #1233. Wednesday, 03 January, 2007.

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