“The Dam of Widows” in Preah Netr Preah and Story of Vietnamese-French Woman’s Family in Cambodia

Posted by khmernews on June 7, 2007

Banteay Meanchey: Ta Soy, a former Khmer Rouge cadre in charge of monitoring dam construction, claimed that “Angkar” named an uncompleted dam and bridge – which is two kilometers long, three meters wide and four meters high – “the Dam of Widowers” and “the Bridge of Widowers”. They are located in Preah Netr Preah district. The dam could irrigate farming lands in three communes of Phreah Net Preah district such as Preah Netr Preah, Ro Hal and Phnom Leap. The name of the dam “Me Tom Nup Me Mai [in Khmer language]” now becomes the title of a nightmare story written by a Vietnamese-French woman.

The governor of Preah Netr Preah district said that The Dam of Widowers and the Bridge of Widowers are now commonly known by Cambodian people. The dame’s name and condition have remained the same and it has not been reconstructed to irrigate the paddy fields.

“The Hell of the Khmer Rouge” is a main feature in a book entitles “the Dam of Widowers,” written by Ms. Denise Affanco, a daughter of a French man with a Vietnamese woman who were living in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. According to Mr. Tep Meng Khean, a staff of the Documentation Center of Cambodia [DC-Cam] in charge of translating her book from French to Khmer, Ms. Denise Affanco is now 67 year olds. She is living in her father homeland France. She was one among millions of forced workers who experienced the Khmer Rouge regime. She had got three children. 1- Jeam Jacque, 17, was her eldest son and died at a labor camp; nevertheless, she did not remember the place and date of his death. 2- Jeanie, 9, was her elder daughter and died on the 9th of November 1976. 3- Francoise was her youngest daughter and died since the day of her birth. Her husband whose name was Pou Tea Seng was a Chinese and he was arrested and then killed by the Khmer Rouge. Her brother-in-law died in September 1976. Also, three daughters of her brother in-law died. 1- Leng died in December 1976 at the age of 18. 2- Haw was 16 years old and Pha was 12 years old. Two of them died in April 1977. Her 5-year-old nephew-in-law whose name was Ha was shot dead by Khmer Rouge guard for stealing just only a little food.

The DC-Cam staffs continued by saying that Ms. Denis Affonco once appeared to be a witness in the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal set in 1979 to try Pol Pot and Ieng Sary for their genocidal crimes.

According to the foreword of the “Dam of Widowers (La Digue Des Veuves)”, Ms. Denise Affonco has had a French father and Vietnamese mother. She and her parents were living in Cambodia until the Khmer Rouge came and completely changed her life. In 1597, France transported its people back to their homeland. However, Denies decided to live with her Chinese husband who was an extremist revolutionary person in the hope that the Khmer Rouge would the end civil war in a period of five years and overthrow the US-backed Khmer Republic which was known as an extremely corrupt regime.

Everything completely changed. Like other Cambodians, Denise and family were evacuated from Phnom Penh to live in a rural area where she could only see labor camps, starvation, diseases and death.

Her husband who was considered well-educated person was killed by the Khmer Rouge Angkar. She was given a warning and designated to participate in the construction of The Dam of Widowers (is currently located in Preah Netr Preah district of Banteay Meanchey province).

Her daughters – one of whom was 17 and other was 6 years old – died of starvation. Her eldest son was separated from her and sent to a labor camp. Until now, she has not been informed about him.

The book noted that she had lived in fear for four years until the Vietnamese and United Front of the National Salvation of Kampuchea troops entered to free Cambodia on 7th of January 1979. And this is a horrifying story in which a “heroic mother” did not give up struggling for her own survival.

Mr. Chong Phaet, Preah Netr Preah District Governor, told Rasmei Kampuchea on the 10th of April that the Dam of Widowers and the Bridge of Widowers are located close to each others and between Sres village and Phnom Kambor village. The dam is 10 kilometers long. There have been two kilometers long of dam remained uncompleted since 1976. So far, dam has not been reconstructed to be used to irrigate the rice fields.

Mr. Chong Phaet further said, “If it is possible, the dam should be reconstructed to be served for the agricultural advantages.”

(Informal Translation)
-Extracted from: Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4259, Wednesday 11 April 2007.


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