On 29 June 1999, the Documentation Center of Cambodia dispatched a mapping team to Kratie Province. The team was composed of Mr. Sin Khin, responsible for interviews and contacts with local authorities, Mr. Ouch Sam Oeun, responsible for the Global Positioning System, Mr. Khuoy Visalmony, responsible for drawing site maps, and Mr. Chheng Veng, responsible for report writing.
At 7 am, the mapping team left Phnom Penh for Kratie Province, arriving there at 12:45 pm. We traveled by Royal Speed Boat.
At 2:30 pm, the team went to Kratie Provincial Headquarters to meet with Mrs. Troeng Thavy, Chief of Provincial Cabinet. We asked her for permission to conduct research in two districts, Snuol and Chhloung. At 3 pm, we met with H.E. Soem Sunchea, the first deputy governor. We explained that the purpose of our visit was to conduct research on places where the Khmer Rouge committed crimes in Snuol and Chhloung Districts.
Describing the situation in the two districts, H.E. Soem Sunchea said, "Today there is no problem traveling to Chhloung District, because there are speedboats which travel back and forth. It takes about one hour to travel from downtown to Chhloung District. With regard to Snuol District, there are two ways to get there. One is to travel along National Road #7, eighty-three kilometers from the provincial headquarters, but the road is very bumpy and it takes more than four hours. A second way is to go by speedboat, and then take a taxi along Sam Linh Road. This would take only about two hours. A Malaysian logging company built Sam Linh Road. It is one hundred and four kilometers long and is made of red dirt. There have been armed robberies and kidnappings along both Sam Linh Road and National Road #7, but more often along National Road #7." We requested that he send an official to accompany us to the districts, and he assigned Mr. Uch Sun Lay, who is chief of the provincial information office. At 4 pm, our team returned to the hotel, where we had already checked in, to prepare for tomorrow’s trip.
Snuol District on 30 June 1999 The mapping team traveled to Chhloung District by speedboat. At 8 am, we proceeded to Snuol District by taxi along the Sam Linh Road. We went through Dambe and Memut Districts, Kampong Cham Province. At 10:15 am, the team met the chief of the Snuol District, Paong Bopha Rith, at the District Office. We began by asking the Chief to describe his district to us. Mr. Paong Bopha Rith said, "Snuol is one of the districts of Kratie Province. In the Southwest it is bordered by Kampong Cham Province and Vinh Phoeung Province (Vietnam), in the North by Chhloung District and Kratie District, and in the East by Mondul Kiri Province. Snuol District has five sub-districts, with thirty-six villages, including the villages for plantation cooperation. There are 6,769 families, totaling 34,836 people, with 17,562 women and 365 government officials. Snuol District covers an area of 282,797 hectares, of which 4,448 hectares is farming land, 5,200 hectares is rubber plantation, 7,500 hectares is for housing, 694 hectares of other plantations, 171,855 hectares of forest and 93,100 hectares of free land."
Concerning security in the district, the Chief said before the 1998 election, the security situation was worrying, but since the election it has been getting better. Recently, several groups of bandits entered the district. The district authorities cracked down on them and as a result, twenty to thirty bandits were arrested and sent for schooling before being released. In March 1999, the bandits who escaped the crackdown moved to National Road #13. There they encountered militias, but managed to escape. These robbers were Khmer Rouge who had become isolated and refused to unite with the government. They stayed in the forest and turned to common crime. Recently the bandits killed a traveler who was a former Khmer Rouge, and a district militiaman. The provincial authorities are continuing to crack down on the bandits who commit robberies along National Road #7.
Concerning the genocide, Mr. Paong Bopha Rith said, “There were two or three execution sites. One was Prey Chhloung prison located in Khsoem Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. The prison was about twenty kilometers north of the district headquarters. It lies along National Road #7. Another one was in Ro Leak Village, Sre Cha Sub-district, Snuol District. Most of the prisoners there were male youths who had been in the labor force. They were sent there to do forced labor, and were seriously tortured. They were killed after being sent on from the prison.”
There were no big mass grave pits which would provide clear evidence of these crimes. December 2 is one of sub-districts in Snuol District where minorities were severely mistreated. Some of them could not stand it and fled to Vietnam. After living in Vietnam for a long time, one of them was assigned to be a sub-district chief. After exchanging ideas with the chief of the District about which sites we might visit, means of transportation, as well as security and safety issues, we returned to our hotel to prepare for an afternoon expedition.
Pha-Ak rubber plantation or rubber plantation No. 64 At 2 pm that afternoon, the mapping team went by car to the site in Kat Dai Village, Snuol Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. It was four kilometers north along National Road #7 from the district headquarters. We interviewed two people who had witnessed the crimes with their own eyes. Their reports are as follows.
The first witness was Heng Be, aged 63, who is a chief of Snuol Sub-district. He was born in Kat Dai Village, Snuol Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. Today he lives in the same village and is a farmer. In 1979 Uncle Heng Be was a militiaman, and since 1988, has been a chief of the sub-district. Uncle Heng said that in the Pol Pot regime he was assigned to be a group leader for a production section. The Khmer Rouge never tormented him, because he was active and very hard working. He added that the prison at Prek Kaun Nge was a place where prisoners were forced to work hard, but that he did not at that time know the location of the execution site, only that the prisoners gradually disappeared for no apparent reason. One day he met prisoners whose legs were swollen and as big as an air pump [it is a Khmer idiom to say that when one’s limbs are swollen, they become ‘as big as an air pump’] yet still they were forced to work. After the fall of the Pol Pot regime, he learned that the prisoners at Prek Kaun Nge were severely tortured and then brought to be killed either at the Pha-Ak rubber plantation or at rubber plantation No. 64. The prisoners were killed and their bodies were put into small pits, with two to four copses in each pit.
He added that he hadn’t seen the execution site with his own eyes. He only was told about that. There were two people who used to be in this prison but who had managed to survive. They were Choeng Thlang, now living in Trapaing Leak Village, Snuol Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province, and Choeng Keo, now living in Wat Snuol Village, Snuol Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. It is not known if some other prisoners who managed to escape from the prison survived or perished. Uncle Heng Be told us that the other prison was in Kbal Snuol Village, Snuol Sub-District, Snuol District, Kratie Province. However, he did not describe it, because he did not know much about it. Our team finished the interview with him, and proceed to interview the second witness.
Second Witness The second witness is Ty Nhi, aged 46, currently a village chief. Now he lives in Kat Dai Village, Snuol Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. He earns a living by farming. In the Pol Pot regime, he was a teacher and he had forty-eight students. He said that once when he was looking after rice at Veal Kchoeng, he climbed to the top of a Kchoeng tree and saw the Khmer Rouge leading prisoners to be hanged. There was no healthy grass there, because there was too much blood flowing on it. This was the place where the prisoners were beaten to make them answer questions, and then were killed. He added that when he was on top of the Kchoeng tree, he could see them beating the victims like cattle, and could hear the prisoners groaning with pain (Uoy, Uoy..!!).
They killed prisoners irregularly, sometimes at night and sometimes in the daytime. This was due to their program. The prisoners were held at Kbal Snuol, were beaten to confess at Prek Koun Nge, and were killed at Pha-Ak rubber plantation. They walked the prisoners to the execution site and then they ordered the prisoners to dig pits. When pits were finished, they ordered prisoners to squat at the brink of the pits and to pray. They told the prisoners that they would be killed, then hit them with hoes or cut them with knives until they dropped into pits. Afterwards they filled up the pits with earth, so that the ground was flat and no pit could be seen. At other times, prisoners were killed and dropped into pits dug by the French for composting rubber leaves for use as fertilizer. Then those pits were filled in immediately. There were two to four corpses in each pit. The distance between each pit was ten to twenty meters. The pits were dug everywhere over one square kilometer of forest.
Witness Ty Nhi added that one day, the cooperative chief told him to go and cut Kantreang Khet plants [plants used to make brooms or compost] together with children, in order to make compost. At that time he saw security men escorting three prisoners. The prisoners were carrying knives and hoes on their shoulders and a security man was carrying a Cuban-made rifle on his shoulder. Curious about this, he told the children to stay still and quiet; then he crept through forest to observe. He saw the security men beat the prisoners with the hoes and drop the dead bodies into the pit.
The prison was populated by children of government officials who had been driven from Phnom Penh and Kratie Province. Some were also from Kampong Cham Province.
The prisoners sent there were forced to work very hard. As they became increasingly thin and weak, they could not work. They had no rice to eat, and when they were hungry, they stole pigs' slop and ate that. When this was discovered, they were tortured by being buried alive up to their neck. One of his friends by the name of Ieng Meas was buried alive up to his neck, and he remembers his pathetic look. Nobody dared to help him, because they were afraid of being caught and tortured. Our team then ended the interview with the witness and left sub-district office, heading south along National Road #7. After one kilometer, we turned left on a red dirt road, penetrating fifty meters into Pha-Ak rubber plantation. (See the map drawn by Mr. Khuoy Visal Mony at the end of this section.)
The execution site we visited there is called Pha-Ak rubber plantation, also known as rubber plantation #64. Our team examined the mass grave pits, which were pointed out to us by witnesses. The pits are in an area of the rubber plantation where there are many young rubber trees. They were as deep as a human waist. This execution site covers about one square kilometer. There were two to four corpses in each of the pits. In total, there were between 4,000 and 5,000 corpses there. Our witness warned us that there are some landmines in the area which have not yet been cleared. Since the location was not safe, we rushed to take the GPS readings, and take pictures of the execution site, pits and witnesses. The witnesses told us there are seven teachers familiar with this site. They are Ty Nhi, Ra, So Khy and Bopha (these three are sisters-in-law of Ty Nhi), Hul and two others whose names he did not remember. All are still alive. Nuon Sam At alias Dek, who was a chief of the prison, had killed people cruelly. Net, Neang and Sothear (who lived in Kampong Cham Province and is deceased) were Dek’s men.
Finally, witness Ty Nhi stated that if the government or court of law needed him to serve as a witness, he would agree without any conditions. After operating the GPS unit, at 4 pm our team departed for the 2 December sub-district, which lies four kilometers east of the district office. When we arrived at 2 Thnuo Sub-district, we interviewed Mr. Poeng Vin, chief of the sub-district.
Poeng Vin, aged 45 years, is a chief of 2 December Sub-district. Mr. Poeng Vin said that there were no Khmer Rouge prisons or execution sites in the 2 December Sub-district. There was only one work site at which a mobile work brigade was forced to do farming. The work site was not a place for killing people. When someone committed an offense, they would be sent to the prison at Prek Koun Nge and beaten to force a confession, and then they would be killed at Pha-Ak rubber plantation, as witness Ty Nhi had related. New couples were sent to stay with the Front Group. Our team then returned to the hotel at 4:20 pm, to rest up for tomorrow’s mission.
Khsoem Sub-district On 1 July 1999 at 7 am, the mapping team departed for Khsoem Sub-district. We traveled along National Road #7 by car. Khsoem Sub-district is twelve kilometers north of the Snuol District Office. We arrived at the home of the sub-district chief at 7:15 am, and met the chief of the sub-district, a man named San Phan. He is 63 years old. Mr. Ly Thim, age 57, is second deputy sub-district chief. Mr. Blong Khea, 42 years old, and Mr. Dim Khim, 37 years old, are deputy chiefs of the sub-district militia.
Mr. San Phan told us that in the Pol Pot regime, he was assigned to a fishing group in Khsoem Krao Village, Khsoem Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. He informed us that Trapaing Chhouk was a prison, located in Trapaing Chey village [previously known as Choeng Village], Khsoem Sub-district. The prison was twelve kilometers from the present sub-district office. To reach this site one must travel along National Road #7 to the north and then turn east and go twelve kilometers from the National Road. Trapaing Chhouk was a location where the Khmer Rouge gathered and detained prisoners, and Trapaing Kory was the associated execution site, located in Toul Village, Khsoem Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. The execution site is ten kilometers from the sub-district office, and five kilometers off of National Road #7.
The execution site is now covered with trees, and there is no easy route to get there, especially in the rainy season. In the dry season, the trip can be made, but it is not safe. At this execution site, prisoners were not killed directly, but rather were killed by starvation. The prisoners were New People driven from the East and forced to work there. The victims totalled around two hundred people, including children. They all were accused of being “Vietnamese” enemies. Mr. San Phan stated that so far nobody has had the courage to visit this site, and so the number, depth and size of the pits is unknown.
During the Khmer Rouge regime, the people were separated and not allowed contact with one another. If anyone attempted contact with others, they would be considered Vietnamese or accused of being involved with Vietnamese. The Khmer Rouge also considered Cambodians from the Eastern Zone to be Vietnamese. Tuol Samrang was a sub-district prison where slight offenders were sent to do forced farming, tilling and clearing the land. The prisoners were divided into groups; each group was made up of three people, and was ordered to clear one hectare of land each week. The offenders were allowed to take a bath once every three days. Among two hundred prisoners, only three survived, saved by the National Liberation Front in 1979. They are Meas Ren, male, aged around 56, living Khsoem Krao village, Khsoem Sub-district; Say Kroem, male, age 66, living in Khsoem Krao village, Khsoem Sub-district; and Pok Phen, female, age 45, living Sre Thmei Village, Khsoem Sub-district. Concerning leadership at this prison, Mr. San Phan told us that the chief of the prison was named Sothear, and that he is deceased. A man named Net was the chief of the district. Neang was his deputy chief. In contrast to what witness Ty Nhi had told us earlier, Mr. San Phan maintained that Nuon Sam At alias Dek was not the chief of the prison, and did not kill people.
Rather, according to San Phan, Dek was mild, gentle and a hard worker who did not hold any positions of authority during the Khmer Rouge regime. In our previous interview with witness Ty Nhi, we were informed that Nuon Sam At alias Dek was the chief of the prison and had killed people. However, Mr. San Phan (the sub-district chief), Mr. Ly Thim (the second deputy chief of the sub-district) and Mr. Dim Khim (deputy chief of militia) all argued that this was not true. In an effort to clarify this discrepancy, the sub-district chief invited Nuon Sam At alias Dek to meet with us. The interview with Dek is as follows.
Nuon Sam At was nicknamed “Dek” by his relatives in 1970. He was first called Dek because he is a hard worker and he always tries to achieve, never complaining even though his work is difficult. His mind is as hard as metal. That is why the nickname Dek stayed with him all these years. This year Dek is 51 years old, and he serves as a first lieutenant in the national police stationed at the Khsoem Sub-district checkpoint. He told us that during the Sihanouk regime, after finishing junior high school he applied to serve in the Ministry of National Defense. He was later sent to Stung Treng, and in 1970 he left the armed forces [either resigning from or deserting the army] and joined the revolutionary forces. One month after joining the “national liberation forces,” Angkar assigned him to Snuol District as chief of the district soldiers until 1975. After April 17, 1975, he was sent by Angkar to a cooperative, to lead a life as a common person. This was because he had previously served in Sihanouk’s army. He lived as a common person from 1975 to 1979. Regarding our information from Ty Nhi, who had said that Dek was the chief of the prison and had killed people, Dek smiled and said that Ty Nhi had confused him with someone else, because between 1975 and 1979 he did not hold any position and he was simply a common person. Dek stated that he was accused only because he had been a soldier and used to walk back and forth.
Dek added that after January 7, 1979, he became a teacher and taught at Khsoem Krao village, Khsoem Sub-district, Snuol District, Kratie Province. When the position of village chief eventually became vacant, he was encouraged to become a candidate for the position. He was subsequently elected as village chief. At that time he was both a village militiaman and the village chief. With time, the people voted for him to become Chief of Khsoem Sub-district. Later on, the district needed new cadres, so the district committee assigned him to be responsible for district agriculture. After working in the district agriculture post for some time, the authorities sent him to attend a training course. When he returned, he was promoted to be Deputy Chief of the District Committee. He held this position from 1983 to 1986. After that he worked for the district education department, and after the 1993 election, he worked for the information department for a short time. Then he was transferred to work in the transportation field as a chief. Still later, he was sent to Kratie Province, but because he needed more income, he was transferred to the National Police. Now he is first lieutenant stationed at Khsoem checkpoint.
Dek says that he completely agrees with the government policy for a trial of the Khmer Rouge. With this information from Dek, we concluded that Mr. Nuon Sam At, alias Dek, in fact was not the Khmer Rouge prison chief and was not responsible for killing people.
The mapping team was not able to visit the prison at Trapaing Chhouk and the execution site at Trapaing Kory because the logistics were too challenging. The area was simply too heavily forested, and the rainy season posed additional difficulties. Moreover, it did not seem to be very safe from a security standpoint. After taking pictures of the interview subject, our mapping team returned to the hotel at 9:30 am. We then continued our mission via Sam Linh Road, heading to Chhlong District by taxi. We arrived in Chhlong District at 12 o'clock.
Location of Chhlong District Chhlong District is bordered by Kratie District in the north, by Snuol District in the west, by Dam Be District in the east, by Prek Prasab (across a river) and Memut Districts in the northeast, and by Kampong Cham Province in the south. The district is comprised of eight sub-districts with forty villages.
The district population includes 9,497 families, made up of 50,779 people. The number of women is 25,828, and there are 691 government officials including 212 females. The district covers an area of 5,041 hectares, of which 1,680 hectares is devoted to wet season rice; 2,508 hectares are for cultivating dry season rice; 853 hectares are planted in other crops; and 714 hectares are free land, of which 86.84% is forested. A logging corporation called Prey Sabtean Company has carried out undisciplined forestry here, failing to observe proper techniques. This has seriously affected the environment in Telling District, contributing to natural catastrophe, bringing drought and floods nearly every year.
Our mapping team arrived at Chhlong District headquarters at 2:30 pm and met Mey Pheng, Chief of Chhlong District. We asked him about Khmer Rouge execution sites. Mr. Mey Pheng said that in Chhlong District, the biggest Khmer Rouge prison was in Kanh Chor Sub-district, twelve kilometers from district headquarters. The prison was located in a house that had belonged to one Mr. Long Sarem. After the Khmer Rouge tortured the prisoners, they took them to be killed in the forest west of the house. They killed a great number of people, and some corpses were not buried. There was another prison at Prek Samann in Thmei Village, with an associated execution site on the banks of Phkeam Lack. In that location, there was only one mass grave pit, containing about thirteen corpses.
Another execution site was located at Kho Kandol; most of the prisoners at this location were brought from the Eastern Zone. These prisoners were policemen and officials. The Khmer Rouge did not kill teachers at this site.
Yet another execution site was at Veal Lngaok in Sre Tiek Village, Damrei Phong, Chhlong District. The killing there was committed en mass. This site is thirty kilometers from district headquarters. No people live there, and it takes about an hour to get there, traveling through forest and water. Still another execution site is at Kampong Damrei, in Prama Village, Kampong Damrei, Chhlong District. The Khmer Rouge also executed prisoners at Kbal Tonub, though no evidence remains at that location. It is fifty kilometers from district headquarters, but the roads are too difficult to allow access in the rainy season. After chatting with the district chief about various topics, it was time to visit some of these genocide sites.
At 7 am on July 2, 1999, the team went to Kanchor Sub-district via moto-taxi, accompanied by Mr. Kleng Saran, who is a first lieutenant in the Inspection Police. We traveled through Prek Chhlong and Thmei Village. (See the map drawn by Khuoy Visalmony). When we reached Kanchor Sub-district, we met the sub-district chief, a man named Men Keomleang, age 61. We did not interview him. He took us to see a witness who was a victim. When we finally reached the witness’ house and climbed the stairs, we saw an old man. This is what we were looking for. Not wasting any time, we interviewed him straight away. The interview is as follows.
Yoen Chhoen, age 66, lives in Prek Samann village, Kanh Chor Sub-district, Chhlong District, Kratie Province. During the Pol Pot regime, he also lived in this village. The Khmer Rouge assigned him to do handicraft work. He was arrested by the Khmer Rouge in Chhlong and was imprisoned in Kanh Chor Sub-district for 6 months and 10 days. He was physically tortured and his ribs were broken. Mr. Yoen Chhoen said that in late 1978, some inmates in this prison were set free, but he did not know anything about them.
In late 1978, according to Mr. Yoen Chhoen, eight hundred prisoners died. Some died of starvation, some died of illnesses, and some were executed in the forest behind the prison. The witness added that the prison was a simple house, which belonged to Mr. Long Sarem. The house had two floors, a ground floor and a first floor; it was nine meters wide and ten meters long. The prisoners’ legs were shackled. The prisoners were divided into two categories, those with serious guilt and those with slight guilt. The prisoners classified as having serious guilt were not allowed to leave their confinement. Their legs were shackled to restraints attached to the floor. They were allowed to drink a little bit of water each day. The water was served to prisoners on China plates, mixed with a spoonful of raw corn seeds. They were also given two or three branches of Phty Banla, even though this thorny plant is inedible. The prisoners whose guilt was classified as “serious” were not allowed very much water, because the Khmer Rouge wanted them to die. The prisoners whose guilt was classified as “slight” were sent to do farming, day and night. While confined, however, their legs were shacked, just like the “serious guilt” prisoners. Ten to twenty prisoners died each day. The corpses of those whose guilt was “slight” were bunched together, three or four in each bunch, and sent to be buried in the forest.
The prisoners were civil workers, policemen and teachers. Mr. Yoen Chhoen added that he arrested on the accusation of associating with Vietnamese. He survived by drinking his own urine (when there was no water), and also because he deceived the Khmer Rouge by changing his name. His real name had been Chhin, but he changed it to Chhoen, in an attempt to confuse his jailers, who had already executed someone named Chhin. He told them that “that Chhin was killed a long time ago.” When the Khmer Rouge looked on their list and saw there was no one named Chhin, they did not say any thing, but they did not release him, either. They kept him there and did not give him food or water. Among eight hundred prisoners, only three survived, released by Khmer Rouge cadres from the Southwestern Zone. When the Southwestern Khmer Rouge arrived, they killed the previous cadres as well as almost all of the remaining prisoners.
Mr. Yoen said he knew that the bodies were buried in the forest behind the prison, where there was a big pit. It was eight meters square and two meters deep, on the banks of the lake, one hundred fifty meters east of the house. One hundred and fifty corpses were placed in this pit. There were also some smaller pits, dug along the stream. The chief of this prison was Comrade Pon, later replaced by Comrade Tob, and finally commanded by Comrade Leang.
After our interview with Mr. Yeon Chheon, we took pictures of the witnesses. Then along with the sub-district chief, we continued on to visit the prison site. Our team arrived at the prison, now converted back into a house, at 8 am. The prison was built of wood and roofed with tile. Mr. Long Sarem and his family live in this house. After operating the GPS unit and taking some pictures, we interviewed the owner of the house. The interview is as follows.
Second Witness Mr. Long Sarem, 56, earns his living by farming. He is the owner of the house which had previously been used by the Khmer Rouge as a prison. It is located in Kanchor sub-district, Chhlong District, Kratie Province. Mr. Long said that the house was built in 1961, and between 1970 and 1975, the Khmer Rouge had used it as a hospital. In 1976, the house was converted for use as a prison. At that time, he moved to his mother-in-law's house, about one hundred and fifty meters away.
When they made it into a prison, the Khmer Rouge built a fence around the house, and forbade people to come near the house. At that time, Mr. Long was assigned to be a cook at the Central Cooperative. He told us that two hundred prisoners were placed upstairs, and another two hundred were held downstairs. The yard around the house was also roofed over, and an additional four hundred prisoners were held there. In all, eight hundred prisoners were held at the house. This number is the same as the figure given by Mr. Yoen Chhoen in our earlier interview. After the Southwestern Khmer Rouge cadres (who were called the “Central” Khmer Rouge) came to take control of the district, the new leadership took both the previous Khmer Rouge cadres and the prisoners to be killed; only four prisoners survived. Of those four who survived, two were Cham. At night they brought in new prisoners by canoe. As the new prisoners were put in the prison, old prisoners were taken to be killed. When they killed the prisoners, Mr. Long could hear them shouting.
As he related this story to us, he took us to his house. He pointed out a spot on the wall, north of the door, and said that scripts had been written there with charcoal, showing dates and the number of prisoners killed. In a pathetic voice, he told us that 6,000 to 7,000 prisoners were killed. Since then, he had removed the charcoal marks, so they were unreadable. He also told us that in 1977, two hundred prisoners were killed in just one night. As they killed prisoners, they brought in more from various places.
After taking pictures of the witness, he led us to an execution site. He told us the execution site was called Prey Trasek. It is located three hundred eighty meters east of the prison. It was a lot forty meters wide and four hundred meters long, adjacent to Pkeam Lake. We were unable to count the pits, because they covered the entire lot. Some were three meters square, some four meters square, and some five meters square.
The big pit we had been told about, eight square meters, was in another location some distance away. We were unable to visit that site, because there was no road. Worse yet, the area was thick with spiny bushes called “Vietnamese thorns.” Kleng Saran First lieutenant told us that the facility was a prison of Region 21, and the prisoners were brought from the Eastern and Northern Zones.
The people who escorted us were Mr. Uch Sunlay, Chief of the Provincial Information Office; Mr. Men Koen Leang, age 61 and now chief of the sub-district; Mr. Chum Suon, age 53, chief of the village and a farmer; Mr. Long Sarem, age 56, also a farmer; Mr. Kleng Saran, age 51, a first lieutenant in the Chhlong District Inspection Police; Mr. Loem Ponleu, age 25, a policeman stationed at the Kanhchor Sub-district checkpoint; Mr. Norng Da, age 28, a militiaman in Kanh Chor Sub-district; and three motor cab drivers. Our drivers were Mr. Som Va, age 27, Mr. Pon Pheng, age 21 and Mr. Leang Hong, age 30. The three motor cab drivers live in Prek Samann Village, Kanh Chor Sub-district, Chhlong District, Kratie Province.
After interviewing the witness, taking pictures and operating the GPS unit, our mapping team returned safely to Phnom Penh.
Conclusion and Evaluation The research conducted on our second trip to Chhlong and Snuol Districts, Kratie Province, was a partial success. We achieved a variety of good results.
The administrative relationship between our team and the sub-district, district, and provincial officials was good. We received detailed information about Khmer Rouge prisons, our two target districts, and provincial regulations. Khmer Rouge activity was not a concern on this trip, but the possibility of bandits was worrying. In May 1999, there were five or six robberies along National Road #7; travelers had been shot and relieved of their belongings. The trip by water from Chhlong District to the province was no problem. It is one hundred four kilometers from Snuol district to Chhlong district. The road from Snuol District to Chhlong District running through Memut and Mambe, known as Sam Linh Road, was isolated and too quiet. That can be worrying.
Collecting information on the execution sites from district and provincial officials was problematical. We got some information on the location of the prisons and execution sites, but we did not get detailed information on the number of victims, mass grave pits or identities of witnesses. Nonetheless, we carried on with our research quite easily, because the provincial governor had informed the district chiefs, and district officials in turn told the village administrators to be ready for us.
The roads in the districts and sub-districts were generally easy to travel, but some of our target sites were thirty to fifty kilometers from easily accessible places in the sub-districts, particularly Damrei Phong, Sre Lngaok and Roung Damrei in Chhlong District. Sometimes, there were no good routes and no people, but plenty of bandits. Consequently, we found it impossible to reach some locations. It terms of environmental conditions, we worked well in the morning because there was no rain at that time of day, but it tended to start getting dark around noon, and the light would fade. Sometimes, therefore, we could not work in the afternoon. Both districts are heavily forested.
The execution site at Trapeang Chhouk in Khsoem Sub-district, Snuol District was five kilometers from National Road #7. We could not reach that location due to the lack of roads and poor security conditions. We did not want to meet any bandits. Facing these barriers, we were able to get to only two sites.
To complete our surveys in these districts, we will need to wait for the dry season, and we will need to budget a lot of time. We will also require security assistance from the local authorities. It is more efficient when we get clearer guidance from provincial and district officials, reducing the time required for us to locate the sites and find witnesses who have first-hand information. For example, the information given to us by district officials regarding the Region 21 Prison in Kanh Chor Sub-district was not particularly clear. However, our team went there and was able to find victims were held in that prison. Thus we managed to get clear and reliable information. If we had been timid or inattentive to what provincial officials were telling us, we would not have been able to meet sub-district and village chiefs, and would not have achieved any results.
In conclusion, because this trip was relatively was short, we were not able to accomplish all our tasks, and not able to visit all the execution sites and prisons. Our incomplete results were a function of the terrain and the security situation.
Execution sites in Snuol District
Snuol Sub-district headquarters
Pha-Ak rubber platation or called rubber plantation #64 ( 1square Km )
(The pits were dug in the whole rubber plantation #64, and there were two or three corpses in each pit).
Over 4 Km
Over 3 Km
Snuol District headquarters
xecution sites and Prisons map
in Chhlong District
~ 380 m
Kanh Chor prison
Route along the Mekong River
5. KRATIE PROVINCE
Site Name/ Visited Date
File #/ID Code
Chamka Kaosou Pha-AK(rubber plantation)/30 June 99