Former Khmer Rouge Soldier: Khmer Rouge Trials Are Leaders’ Task

Posted by khmernews on August 3, 2007


Phnom Proek-Battambang: As five former Khmer Rouge (KR) leaders have been accused by the KR Tribunal’s Co-Prosecutors of a number of crimes including crimes against humanity, war crimes, cultural and religious persecution etc., it is noticed that former KR soldiers who at the present have positions in the government are careful in giving comment on the accusation. However, “small” soldiers dare to say what they think.

Phnom Proek is a district of Battambang. The district has a border with Thailand, and during the KR regime the Khmer Rouge made the district a stronghold to fight against the Phnom Penh government since after the collapse of the Democratic Kampuchea regime in January 1979. The tough fighting continued over a period of time which made the forest, wild life and other natural resources depleted. However, the KR soldiers in Phnom Proek district in 1996 separated from the KR structure and integrated with the government. Therefore, this area has been called a “former Khmer Rouge” area, and the people living there are all former Khmer Rouge. The Phnom Penh government has given full authority to former local leaders to lead the people there.

Tuoch Sokun, Phnom Proek’s deputy governor, is a former Khmer Rouge who was in charge of logistics of KR division 320 in Phnom Proek. He said that he separated [from the KR] on August 15, 1996 and the government assigned him as the deputy governor since then. Sokun scrutinized and answered very carefully the questions which were asked related to the KR trials. He said that former KR soldiers had no reactions toward the indictment against the five former KR leaders. To him, he said, “The leader can decide on anything. The trials are beyond my ability.” It depends on the legal procedure, he said. “It’s the issue of senior leaders whether to have the trials or not,” he said, adding that he never thought about this issue.

Meanwhile, a former KR soldier spoke on the condition of anonymity that he wasn’t against the tribunal. “But, the cruel leaders who ordered killing of their own people were Pol Pot, Son Sen, and Ta Mok,” he said.

However, those people have already died. It seems that the former KR soldier accused only “ghosts”. [He] didn’t mention any [living] former KR leader as cruel.

Though there is no “open support”, some low-ranking soldiers seem to have loyalty toward living former KR leaders yet. However, former division leaders who became district governor or deputy governor dare not say anything beyond a limit.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 15, #4351, Wednesday, August 1, 2007 .


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