I wonder how Duch would feel if one of his sons or daughters were brought into Tuol Sleng?

Posted by khmernews on March 19, 2012


Magazine: Searching for the Truth, February 2012

I wonder how Duch would feel if one of his sons or daughters were brought into Tuol Sleng?

By Men Lay

During the Pol Pot regime, I lived in Prek Be Village, Koh Thom Commune, Koh Thom District, Kandal Province. Like millions of other Khmer Rouge survivors in Cambodia, I lost one of my children, Min Kan, when the Khmer Rouge cadres (names unknown) took him away in 1975.

My son, Min Kan, enlisted in the Khmer Rouge Army at the age of sixteen. He left home and went to fight against Lon Nol soldiers along with his comrades-in-arms. I remained in our village to continue my work and heard no news from him. In 1975, dressed in his military uniform, he paid us a brief visit. After we had talked with each other for only a short while, the commune chief came and arrested him, saying that Angkar was accusing him of leaving his base without permission. My family could do nothing to intervene, because the local authority was very powerful at that time.

When my son came to visit, he was accompanied by three colleagues native to Prek Be Village. However, I am unsure whether or not the other three were also arrested and taken back to their base. My son has been unaccounted for since the moment of his arrest. During the Khmer Rouge regime, despite the fact that everyone was forced to work long hours without rest every single day, my family members still tried to find out what happened to my son. Unfortunately, we received no information except that he had been taken to Office 15 by his commander.

In September 2008, Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) staff members gave me my son’s prisoner biography from the Tuol Sleng prison archive. I was extremely shocked to learn from a group of DC-Cam researchers that my son had been brought into one of the most notorious prisons, Tuol Sleng, where prisoners were brutally tortured before being executed. DC-Cam staff graciously explained the operation of Tuol Sleng to me, including the systematic arrest and killing of prisoners, and told me that Duch, head of the prison, was being prosecuted in Case 001 before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT).

Before receiving confirmation of my son’s death, I had always hoped that he might still be alive and return home one day. I often could not sleep and suffered from headaches whenever I thought of him. Imagining the torture and execution of my son has caused me much emotional pain. I wonder how Duch would feel if one of his sons or daughters were brought into Tuol Sleng?

To honor the soul of my lost son, I decided to file an application to be a Civil Party in Case 001 of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. This action has provided me with some solace, as I have attended the hearing and had a chance to share my story of suffering with many people. I do hope that Duch will spend the rest of life in prison.


Independently Searching for the Truth since 1997.


“…a society cannot know itself if it does not have an accurate memory of its own history.”

Youk Chhang, Director

Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam)

66 Sihanouk Blvd.,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

t: +855 23 21 18 75

f: +855 23 21 03 58

h: +855 12 90 55 95



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