“Mony Salvan” Pagoda A KR’s Killing Field Where Around 40,000 People Murdered

Posted by khmernews on August 22, 2007

Kampong Cham: All the people were dressed up in fashionable colorful clothes and gathered in the compound of Mony Salvan pagoda, known as Ou Trakuon pagoda, in Peam Chi Kang, Kang Meas, Kompong Cham.

Some were carrying stacks of foods and deserts which had been prepared very outstandingly for monks who were waiting for Buddhist lent.

30 years ago…

If we look back to 30 years ago when the Khmer Rouge (KR) was in power, this place was a torture center where 40,000 innocent people were detained and tortured before they were killed by the “black clothes” murderers (the Khmer Rouge).

Thong Kimkhun, 60, villager in Sach Sou, Peam Chi Kang, Kang Meas, Kompong Cham, who could survive the KR regime, said with the sorrow in his chest that he didn’t want to recall the horrified past experience during the KR regime which had lasted for 3 years, 8 months and 20 days.

Kimkhun as well as the other people in Kang Meas was evacuated from one village to another by the Khmer Rouge. Cambodian-Muslims in Sach Sou were evacuated to settle in Damnak Svay and Damnak Chrey while Cambodians living there were forced to leave their homes to live in Damnak Sou. There were 30 to 40 families in an evacuation. After KR cadres started to capture “new people” or “17 April People” among whom some were Lon Nol regime’s government officials, those people were transported by boats, trucks and bull carts to be kept in Mony Salvan temple in Ou Trakoun Pagoda.

“When they arrived at the pagoda’s compound, the Khmer Rouge ordered the people to go into the temple and locked them together with chains,” said Kimkhun.

He was silent for a moment before continuing to say: “I was asked to help transport those innocent people for two times. After the transfer, I always tried to observe what they would do with those people. How terrified it was. There were a detention center at the west of the temple and a tile-roofed wooden interrogation and torture center which was around 20 x 15 metres.”

“Attached to the roof were 4-5 pulleys with long cord for tying people upside down. Blood stains were scattered on the veranda of the temple. These could show the ruthless acts of the Khmer Rouge,” he said

The campaign of mass murder

Thong Kimkhun and a lot of senior people described similarly that between late 1977 and early 1978, KR cadres launched a campaign to purge all the internal enemies among cadres who were accused of betraying the Angkar (the revolutionary organization). Those people were transported by trucks to be killed in many places.

“Both ‘old people’ and ‘new people’ were brought by the ‘black clothes’ murderers from Peam Chi Kang, Prek Krabau, Angkor Ban, and Sour Kong to be killed in front of Ou Trar Kuon pagoda.

Whenever there were killings, the Khmer Rouge used loudspeakers to blare across the areas so that the screams of the victims would not be heard.

Piles of bodies in mass graves

54-year-old Chea Marly, Peam Chi Korng’s commune chief, recalled his horrified experience that he had had three siblings. “The Khmer Rouge killed two of them at Ou Trakuon Pagoda and killed another one at “Phnom Pros”.

After the liberation day on January 7, 1979, Marly as well as some other fortunate people who could survive the KR regime returned home.

“It was terrifying that there were around 100 mass graves in which 5 to 100 bodies were buried,” said Marly.

Those mass graves were dug up in order to find gold, diamond and other valuables attached to the bodies.

During the State of Kampuchea, people and monks gathered the bones and skulls to keep in a monument donated by Samdech Hun Sen. There, it was carved at the monument that: “These are the bones and Skulls of 38,690 people who were killed by Pol Pot in the forest in front of the pagoda.”

Chea Marly and the other people in Korng Meas have been waiting for 28 years to be told the reasons why the Khmer Rouge forced people to do the labour tasks and starved and killed people. “Why did they kill Khmer?” “How are those murderers punished?” Recently, they have known that the Cambodian government and the United Nations have just established a tribunal for the prosecution of the KR leaders. “But why is the newly-established court so slow which has made the KR leaders and witnesses die one after another?”

Can the KR Tribunal give justice to the victims? What are the things the victims and their family will get from the KR Tribunal? These doubts fill in every victim’s family’s state of mind as they have been waiting longingly for the answers.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from  Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 6, #1406, Wednesday, August 1, 2007.


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