Tragedy Of Mass Killings In May 1977

Posted by khmernews on October 30, 2007


Very few people knew about the Democratic Kampuchea’s plan to mass-killed innocent Cambodians in May 1977. Kim Visoth, who passed a test to be teacher in Phnom Penh before 1975 and who is the present deputy-director of the Kampong Thom’s Education and Sports Department, has described the atrocities in May 1977. He was the only one who could survive among “new people” or “17-April people” in the village he was living in.
A generous village chief who he considered as his foster father had always been trying to save his life until the Khmer Rouge was toppled. The teacher recalled that on April 17, 1975, like other citizens he was evacuated from Phnom Penh. Because his parents were living in Tang Kork, Baray, the teacher who lived alone in the city traveled to meet his parents. His mother was living at the time in Paprak, Svay Phleung, Baray, Kampong Thom. Although his mother and his relatives were “old people”, Visoth was considered as a “new people” or “17-April people”. He was around 20 years old at that time and was full of strength to work. The village chief named Chin Sieng showed his compassion toward him and took him as his assistant. The Chief was trying to hide his background as teacher.

In every meeting in the village, commune or district, the village chief always brought him along in order to record all the essence of each meeting since the village chief was an illiterate person. Kim Visoth recalled that in May 1977, Svay Phleung’s commune chief from the southwest called for a meeting of all village chiefs in the commune. Kim Visoth also accompanied Paprok’s village chief. Some villages sent their deputy-chief to take part in the meeting. However, the commune chief announced that only the chief of each village was allowed to attend in the meeting. Some village chiefs complained that they were illiterate and wanted to keep their assistant. However, they were not allowed to do so. The commune chief sent the village deputy-chiefs back to ask their chief to come regardless of the time. At that night, a pot of chicken porridge was prepared for the village chiefs who attended the meeting. Kim Visoth said that he had to return to the village.

Visoth lived in a small hut with palm leaf wall and palm stem floor one metre above the ground. When he arrived at home, his family were sleeping very soundly after working for the whole day. He did not want to disturb them, so he laid his back on the palm stem floor and fell asleep unconsciously. At around 4 a.m., the village chief walked stealthily into in hut and woke him up. The village chief pulled his hand and brought him to sit on a place far away from the hut. “I just came back from the meeting and have yet slept,” the village chief talked to Kim Visoth. He told Kim Visoth about a new plan he had been told in the meeting. “The Angkar is planning to kill 4 million people out of 7 million Cambodians. Amongst 3 million people who are left, one million will be people who are full of strength and can work for the Angkar very well. Another million are beautiful women who are kept for “breeding” with Chinese while the other are the “old people” who are loyal to, love and respect the Angkar,” the village chief told Kim Visoth, “And there are 4 types of people who will be killed: (1) all new people, (2) people who ran from the city to the rural area or people who had run into the city in “the second Chen La” or in 1972, (3) both new and old people who are inactive in working and do not respect the Angkar, and (4) the betrayers of the Angkar.”

The chief told Kim Visoth, “In the plan, before every holiday each village chief has to collect all the families which are to be killed and bring them to Svay Phleung Pagoda to wait for trucks to transport them away (in 1977 there was a holiday for every 10 working days). Village chiefs have to look for hard working people or villagers to guard outside their village in case someone tries to escape.  The guards will be brought with rice and foods while the villagers only have porridge. The guards must watch day and night to prevent people from travelling disorderly.”

After the village chief revealed the plan to Kim Visoth, he also told Visoth to leave the village in that morning. “You must leave the village to live in Ta Ma’s monastery in a plantation near Tuek Cha. Don’t come back although anyone calls you back. But, come back only when Comrade Vong or Comrade Kea asks you to come back because if I want you to come back, I will “use” them,” the village chief reminded him. Kim Visoth left the village in the dawn like what the village chief asked him to do.

One day, Visoth met his friend named Uncle Sarin, a new villager in Reaksmei Rumdoah in Sou Young commune. Visoth told him the killing plan of the Angkar, but Sarin did not believe. 4-5 days later, one day before the holiday Visoth secretly entered the village because he wanted to observe the happenings inside the village. It was very quiet and nothing had happened. However, at 4 a.m. Khmer Rouge spies started to call the families which had already been chosen to gather in Sor Sei pagoda’s compound in Russey Lor village. There were 3 gathering places known: Sor Sei Pagoda in Russey Lor, Svay Phleung Pagoda, and Svay Pleung’s commune hall. People were told that they would move to live in another place and that they did not have to bring many things with them.

Kim Visoth said that because he wanted to know what was happening, he secretly followed to Sor Sei Pagoda. He saw an old man who had been a rich man before was holding a packed bag and climbing the truck. But, a Khmer Rouge spy seized the bag from him and threw it on the ground. Gold in the bag was revealed. Visoth said that some of the people gathered at pagoda were driven off in 3 trucks while the rest were waiting there. They were watched carefully by the Khmer Rouge spies. 2-3 hours later, the trucks returned back to transport the people. There were many rounds until they transported all the people waiting in the pagoda. The people were taken away to an unknown place.

(To be continued…)

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 15, #4409, Sunday-Monday, October 7-8, 2007.


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