Interviewee: San Hy, farmer, late 40's, Bos Kralanh Village (Siem Reap Province)
Special Information: Live translation of a live video recording. Some questions may be omitted but the responses are there in their entirety.
Q: Do you remember filing a complaint?
A: [Laughs] I had almost forgotten about it.
Q: Why did you file the complaint?
A: My father was killed, so it is to find justice for him. I voluntarily filed a complaint after listening to your [DC-Cam’s] information.
Q: Can you describe your experience during the Democratic Kampuchea regime?
A: During the Khmer Rouge regime I was evacuated to another village. It was in the same province.
Q: Do you remember the date that this happened?
A: I don’t remember.
Q: When did the KR start making you live in collectives?
A: About a half of a year after the evacuation the living was changed to collectives. I was single during this time. I was still a child during this time so the Khmer Rouge put me into a youth unit. My whole family had left together during the evacuation. I am the eldest son in my family. My father was the only one in my family who was killed during the KR regime.
[Vannak asks him a question]
A: I do not know the reason or way that my father was killed. The Khmer Rouge told me that they were taking my father away for “re-education”. They took him away at around 6pm in the evening. During the Khmer Rouge regime my uncle was arrested at the same time as my father. I know the people who arrested my family. They still live close to me. I do not wish anything against them because they were taking orders from their leaders.
Q: Do you know their names?
A: I will not share the names of the men who arrested my father. I don’t blame them, I blame the way that society was during that time.
Q: How do you feel about the top Khmer Rouge leaders being put on trial?
A: We need to file complaints against them so that the next generation will not repeat these mistakes in the future. This will serve as a lesson for the next generation.
Q: Do you remember the type of complaint that you filed (civil party, complainant)?
A: I filed as a complainant.
Q: With the perpetrators who arrested your father living so close, were you afraid of filing the complaint?
Q: Do you anticipate results coming from your complaint?
A: Yes, I was very happy to get the notification from the ECCC.
Q: How did you feel after filing the complaint?
A: After filing the complaint I felt relief. I cannot ignore that my father was killed during this time. I feel relief that there will be justice for my father.
Q: Did you witness any killings?
A: Yes, I witnessed killing. In the cooperative there were no people from Phnom Penh but I saw people from Battambang province living in my cooperative. Everything around us was poisonous and many people died. I saw many people get poisoned and vomit until they died.
After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 I saw many people fight back. They formed a mob and killed the chief of the cooperative.
[Vannak asks a question]
A: The reason I am filing the complaint is so that my father’s soul can rest in peace.
Q: Do you allow your children to play with the children of the Khmer Rouge perpetrators?
A: Yes, the children can play together. The perpetrators will not stay alive forever – they will finally die too.
Q: Have you been following the ECCC?
A: Yes, usually follow by watching television.
Q: [Vannak tells San Hy about Duch’s plea for forgiveness] How do you feel about Duch asking for forgiveness?
A: [San Hy is at a loss for words and does not give a clear answer] Finally he will be sentenced by the court.
Q: What is your opinion of this?
A: I believe that Duch’s plea for forgiveness is a sincere request.
Q: Are you still angry at the Khmer Rouge?
A: Not much. Anger will not bring my father back to life.
Q: Is it enough for Duch to be sentenced for 40 years?
A: Yes. Because he is old enough, a 40 year sentence is enough for him.
Q: Do you know the meaning of the word genocide?
A: It is the killing of a whole race.
Q: What about the term “crimes against humanity”?
A: I do not know this term.
Q: Do you feel that the process of the court is too long?
A: It is too long for me. It has taken too much time.
[Vannak explains to him why it has taken so long. He tells him about the legal process, the gathering of evidence, and the gathering of witnesses.]
Q: Do you have any confidence in the court that it will bring justice?
A: Yes because many of the witnesses are still alive.
Q: Do you know the definition of the word ‘justice’?
A: I do not know it.
Q: What do you think is the advantage of having a court?
A: It will teach a lesson to the next generation. The court will show people who it was that committed the crimes and it will teach them not to do these crimes in the future. We will not repeat the mistakes from the past.
Interviewee: Krouch Noeum
Age: 60 years old
From: Rokar Thoun village
Date: May 27, 2010
Q: Why are you a complainant?
A: The reason for my complaint is my anger at the Khmer Rouge for their forced labor and killing the people. My brother-in-law and parents-in-law were killed during the KR regime and their remains were never found.
Q: How do you feel about the upcoming trials?
A: I think that the trials are good because they bring justice to the people.
Q: What does justice mean to you?
A: Justice means fairness.
Q: What do you think about Duch asking for forgiveness?
A: [Shakes his head] If it was up to me I would not offer him forgiveness. But it is the court’s decision.
Q: Do you want the court to try othe KR officials?
A: There are so many KR living in this district. They got their orders from the top, so the court should not condemn them.
Q: Has the long wait for the trials affected their importance or significance for you?
A: For me it is okay, even considering the 30 year wait for it to get to court. Justice requires time.
Q: What are your expectations of the court.
A: I am just happy to have filled out the complaint – it is up to the court to decide what to do.
Q: Do you play a role in educating people about genocide?
A: I usually tell my children about the experience of starving and the experience of forced labor.
Q: Do they believe you?
Q: Do you know about the May 20th “Day of Anger”? Have you attended it?
A: I have never attended it but I have heard about it.
Photo of the day - May 22, 2010
Taken by Phat Piseth of DC-Cam
Handing out the ECCC complainant confirmation forms and Youk Chhang’s thank you letters to the villagers of Daun La-or (the name translates to “Good Grandma”).
On the 22nd of May, I leave with eight members of the DC-Cam Victim Participation team for Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces. The purpose of our 9 day trip is primarily to give out ECCC confirmation forms to the complainants from the villages. The complainants are people filed complaints against the Khmer Rouge two years ago, as witnesses to the heinous crimes committed against the Khmer people. Their testimony provides valuable evidence that will help prosecute the top Khmer Rouge leaders who are on trial (see Gassia’s post on ECCC trial).
The Victim Participation team will give them a court confirmation notice to fill out (or fill it out for them, as most villagers are illiterate), a thank you letter from Youk Chhang, and then conduct interviews to record personal stories and find out how they feel about the upcoming trials.
During our time in Cambodia we are interning at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), a non-governmental organization that conducts research on and documents the crimes and atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era. We seek to assist DC-Cam with its educational initiatives and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s history, particularly the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979) and the Cambodian genocide.
We each have been assigned to work on different projects (click on the links to learn more and see related posts):
Yannek will be working with the Victims Unit team, traveling to provinces to deliver the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)’s official notifications to complainants and civil parties and also to conduct interviews with survivors.
Raphael will be working with Living Documents team, traveling to provinces to screen video footage of the ECCC hearings to villagers.
Gassia will be working with the Museum team, curating DC-Cam’s latest exhibition on the ECCC Case 002 at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh.
Doug will be conducting extensive Research with DC-Cam staff members, Kunthy and Samphors, on the role of midwives during the Khmer Rouge era.
Furthermore, we all will be traveling together as part of the Genocide Education project, distributing high school textbooks, written by DC-Cam staff member Khamboly Dy, on the Khmer Rouge era -an era barely mentioned in current textbooks.