How My Mom Survived During Cambodian Genocide: The Khmer Rouge Regime
My mother was a real survivor during the civil war. I could not imagine my thirteen self living through the war. This was a nightmare that Cambodian people have been facing for three years eight months and twenty days.
What is the Genocidal Regime?
Many people in my country defined this regime as a prison without walls. So what exactly it really is. The Genocidal Regime or Democratic of Kampuchea was a brutal regime that was taken over Cambodia by the marxist leadership of Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979. The purpose was to be a master of rice which led to the death of more than 2 million people such as executed enemies of the regime, some died from starvation, disease and overwork.
What Does It Feel Like to Live in The War?
On the first day of this regime, my mother didn’t really know that Cambodia had switched from The Republic of Cambodia to The Khmer Rouge Regime. My mom and the whole neighborhood had no ideas and just did everything that was told by the head of the village who was under the communist leaders. Elder people must work at the rice fields and dig the water system to supply the rice fields. Young adults such as my mother and her elder siblings worked as a pig feeder or fruit collectors in the farms. No one got enough food to eat and the food that was given is porridge. It was not balanced when people worked for twelve hours a day and only got two scoops of porridge that is why some people died of starvation because the comrade leaders made them overwork. My mother told me that she and her friends were really starving so they had no choice but to eat the food pig which was made from banana trunks, and some vegetables. The comrade leader was extremely mad that their pig became thinner so they decided to move her to another field. From what I knew from my mom, the comrades leaders more likely give a second chance to kids but not adults. Another risky story of my mom was that, it was a time that she stole fruits and was caught by the comrade but luckily she got a way out. She fooled the comrade by pointing them to see other people and then she ran as fast as she could. She was so scared because they were so rude and they carried the guns around. If we put ourselves in their shoes during the war time, even though we know that we might be in huge trouble to eat the fruits that we plant, due to starvation, we must take risks to survive in order to live.
Citizens’ daily routine is to work for the government on the field, eat less food with no protein and and live in an insecure society that did not know if their life have tomorrow or not.
My Mom Become A Witness for A hundred Couple
My mom attended a wedding party event. That is what exactly my mom told me that she saw in her eyes. People have no choice to choose who they want to marry to. Strangers turned into husbands and wives for just a day. Everything was settled by the government organization. A small event would be fifty couples and a big one was about a hundred couples. Everyone got to eat full during the events. When the event ends, they must live together and the comrade will check if they seem not to love or resist to live together. If they found out that something like this happened, they would send the marriage couple to get educate right away. No matter how you feel, you can’t deny when it is your turn to have a partner in life. You can’t avoid working for the government even though you got the partner.
The key words which meant people will be killed: When they send people to learning with comrade (getting educate), When they ask for you help to fix the bridges or fix anything, Ask you to move out, etc…
There were around ten families in the village. The head of the village told all the neighbors to move to another village and only my mom’s family was kept in the same place. It was so difficult to believe that those families were not sent to a new place but they were sent to kill. Them all had no idea why they had to move and mom family curious too when they told them not to move. The whole neighbors have no choice but to move out from their home because if they did not do what they were told, they would get a warning from the comrade leaders. You will only get one warning and will never get it again because once you were called to be educated by the government organization, this meant that they will tutor you in a prison. The inconvenient truth was that you could not deny or have any excuses with the comrade leaders when they ask you questions. If you refuse to answer, they will think that you were their enemies or a spy that worked for Vietnam or the governors that used to work in The Republic of Cambodia government. The comrade leaders not only didn’t trusted the citizens but they also did not trust their colleagues too. They would report each other too if they suspect that anyone was a traitor.
Were There Any Medicines?
I am asking my mom about what happens if people get sick at that time. They were using traditional medicine to cure people. She told me that she saw they cured the patients who have no energy by putting coconut water into the patient’s bodies instead of serum that we are using for hospitalization nowadays. Furthermore, if anyone gets a fever they will get the drug called ‘‘rabbit’s poop’’. For those who have a mental breakdown and couldn’t go to make a merit at the temple because there is no religion. The pagodas were abandoned and monks were forced to work like general citizens because nothing was free for the monk to eat without working.
What Happened Before 17th April 1975?
Through back to the good old days before this regime came. My grandpa was a seller at the market and my mom can say that her family was well off at that time. We got food to eat, a home to live with family and some money that we could use in the emergency situation. All money that they earned was no longer used in the market. Everything has changed in a blink of an eye, people were not able to use money. The currency was no longer used in the country and money was just a paper but the prison was not just a room. It might be the place that you needed to say goodbye to your family once you got in because your life was in their hands. It was so sad to say that but it was true after all. The building was destroyed and turned those buildings such as victory, pagodas, schools into prisons and gun stocks.
What Is Security Prison 21 or TuolSleng Prison?
When I stepped foot into this museum, I can imagine that there used to be lots of students studying and some were running around outside of the class with their friends. This was a primary school located in Capital city, Phnom Penh. Of course this place wasn’t a school anymore. It became a supreme prison that used to hit people, tortur people, kill people which was controlled by Kang Kech Lew or comrade Duch who was a leader of sentabal.
I put the headphones on and listened to the history of each spot in the whole museum that I automatically feel so sorry that many lives of innocent people were brutally tortured until they died. Some people called this prison a killer machine because they were really cruel when it came to tutor people. It was really sad to know but it did happen. I saw the list of at least 12000 people were killed and only 7 people were alive.
The Security of Regulation in Security Prison 21
The Outfit That Showed in The Museum
PS: All people must wear this outfit. If they found out anyone wear other color, they will count you as the enemies.
How Did the Last 7 Victims Survive?
We might think that they were really lucky but it might be a part of it. They were not communist party’s relatives or have any special relationship. They were just specialists and that was the only reason that made them survive. The leaders kept them because they knew how to paint, they knew how to fix mechanics or could do anything to benefit them because they would not keep if you were politicians, doctors teachers or artists. They targeted and killed those who were knowledgeable.
What Did Pol Pot Interpret Cambodia to International Affairs?
Pol Pot did not allow outsiders or tourists to visit Cambodia. The foreigners who stuck in Cambodia were sent back home while some of them also got killed. Mr Vann Nath was one of the prisoners in Security Prison 21 and his speciality was painting. After being questioning by comrade, he was working for Comrade Duch and he was told to draw as they used his drawing to show to the world about how developed Cambodia was during that time.
Now his drawing has shown at TuolSleng museum about what really happened during the time he spent and worked for comrade Duch
Vann Nath is pointing at his drawing.
A Boring Entertaining in Pol Pot Media
My mom really liked watching movies but she couldn’t watch it anymore because we knew that they damaged everything. The media that they showed to watch was only about the documentary of making rice or the songs that sing about the regime. People have no idea about the outside world because the media is only about the government and what they could do is praying until someone could come to wake them up from the nightmare.
The End Was Coming
Cambodia and Vietnam were having a conflict together for years. On 7 January 1979, after a violent border of confrontation, The Khmer Rouge government was overthrown by invading Vietnames troops. All the leaders such as Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Duch, all the important leaders and everyone who was related to the government was sentenced to Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Many innocent lives have been killed by the government. Cambodian citizens really hate this regime. They lost everything, lost their beloved people and their lives have been ruined. Finally it came to an end.
After A Nightmare
Everything needs to restart from zero again including infrastructure and human resources. It was so sad but I want people to remember that once the war happens, our lives will completely change. Due to the poverty that this regime brought us, my grandpa died after Pol Pot Regime ended. Grandma became a single mother. The family was so poor that my mother stopped going to school and started to work in order feed family and sent the younger sibling to school. She married off at the age of 21 and started a new life in Siem Reap city with my father. Mom is the strongest person that has been through all those tough times. She deserved to be happy in her life.
Lists of Movies That You Can Watch to Know More About Cambodian Genocide
l. First They Killed My Father
ll. Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten
lll. The Missing Pictures
lV. The Killing Fields
If You Wish to Vistit TuolSleng Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Please Visit This Website:
For More Information Related to Democratic Kampuchea, Go Visit these Websites: