Closing Arguments Continue with the Prosecution’s Case

 

 

The second day of closing arguments in Case 002/02 started as usual: Judge Nil Nonn started the proceedings at 9 a.m., and the Greffier confirmed that all parties were present, except for Nuon Chea, who is not present due to back pain. Nuon Chea waived his right to attend today’s hearing due to his medical condition, but he clarified that he has not waived his right to be tried fairly or challenge evidence admitted by this Chamber at any time. The Chamber granted Mr. Nuon’s request to follow the proceedings remotely.

 

Judge Nonn turned the proceedings over to Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang who began to present the prosecution’s final arguments.

 

Ms. Leang greeted the court and provided an overview of the crimes in Case 002/02 that were suffered by the Cambodian people during the Democratic Kampuchea. She stated that the crimes include starvation, overwork, disease, other inhumane acts, persecution, genocide of the Cham and Vietnamese, the forced marriage and rape of Khmer women, and the imprisonment, forced labor, and torture of millions of others in worksites and security centers.

 

Ms. Leang explained that the reason for the second part of the trial, regardless of the guilty verdict in the first part, is that justice continues to be sought of the victims of these crimes. She acknowledged that the process of seeking justice has been neither quick nor easy, nor should have it been.

 

To this end, Ms. Leang detailed the evidence-gathering efforts in this case. Between 2007 and 2010, the Office of Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ) investigated the crimes in Case 002. During this time OCIJ also conducted over 1,000 witness interviews and received over 8,000 civil party applications and victim complaints. Ms. Leang then briefly reviewed the procedural history of Case 002/01 and Case 002/02. Taking both Case 002/01 and Case 002/02 together, this Chamber has heard testimony from 278 witnesses, civil parties, and experts, and admitted over 16,000 documents. Documents include contemporaneous documents from the Democratic Kampuchea area, such as telegram and reports sent to the CPK leaders from the zones and Democratic Kampuchea organizations, minutes of meetings of meetings, the Revolutionary Flag and Youth Party publications, records from the S-21 prison and Tram Kok district, interviews, speeches, statements of Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan , and other CPK leaders, witness interviews conducted by OCIJ and DC Cam and other organizations, and publications by experts who have researched the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

Ms. Leang stated that contrary to Defense claims, this case has always been about the evidence, and not narrative, which shows the truth and proves the crimes for which the Accused are responsible. She said that it is the evidence that will be the focus of the Co-Prosecutor’s submissions in the next two days. And she maintains that it is this evidence that will be the basis for the Chamber’s decision.

 

Ms. Leang will discuss crimes at worksites, including enslavement, other inhumane acts, persecution relating to Buddhists, and forced marriage and rape. Ms. Leang’s colleague will cover the crimes at security centers, genocide, and other key issues, such as whether a joint criminal enterprise (JCE) existed.

 

Ms. Leang stated that enslavement at worksite cooperatives was a crime that affected nearly every Cambodian who lived in the cooperative and that the impact of this crime on the Cambodian people cannot be overstated as it affected a person’s job, occupation, home, religion, family life, and friendships. Virtually every defining part of Cambodian day -to-day life was taken away by the CPK in what was the most extreme transformation of society in modern times. No matter what workers did before April 1975, they were required to give up that life to become a worker who built infrastructure dams or a rice farmer.

 

The Accused have been charged with crimes at four worksites, the Trapeang Thma Dam, Tram Kok Cooperatives, 1st January Dam worksite, and the Kampong Chhnang Airport.

 

Ms. Leang first discussed nature of the crimes alleged against the Accused. Enslavement is the crime of exercising power over a person akin to ownership, by exploiting them for economic gain through forced labor, controlling their movement and environment, depriving them of their freedom, and preventing their escape from your control. Forced labor exists when it is shown that the victims had no real choice as to whether or not to work. Other inhumane acts are acts or omissions that cause serious suffering or injury to victims, such as detaining people in inadequate living conditions.

 

Next, Ms. Leang discussed the criminal liability of the Accused. She stated that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were in a small group at the top of the CPK who decided that Cambodians would give up their lives and become peasants or workers in the cooperatives and worksites of the Democratic Kampuchea. These decisions were made at party congresses and central committee meetings, attended by both Accused, including the critical meeting in May 1975 after the CPK seized power. Both Accused have admitted that people were forced to work in the cooperatives and were not free. Nuon Chea has done so in his testimony at the ECCC, and Khieu Samphan has done so in previous public interviews.

 

Ms. Leang stated that one of the key elements of the crime of enslavement is the control of victimized people. She said that evidence will show that control was the principle reason for the CPK implementation of cooperatives. A CPK publication “Revolutionary Flag,” written by Khieu Samphan, stated that the cooperatives were critical in controlling the production of rice, the country, and the people. Nuon Chea has stated in his books the need to control and seize the people by means of cooperatives.

Ms. Leang then quoted experts who have also described the Democratic Kampuchea as a slave state, in which people had no control over their lives or anything they did. As an example, Ms. Leang stated that testimony showed that daily life in the cooperatives started very early in the morning, workers had no control over when or what they ate, or what kind of work they did. Land, family, and religion were the three most important aspects of daily life, and Cambodians had no control over any of them.

Ms. Leang explained that the CPK had developed a policy to produce three tons of agricultural output per hectare, while building the necessary supporting infrastructure projects at “breakneck speed.” This policy was called the Great Leap Forward. Khieu Samphan had described this revolution plan at the May 1975 Central Committee meeting at the Silver Pagoda where he discussed the need to urgently build these projects. Nuon Chea had also agreed with the plan to build infrastructure quickly.

Ms. Leang stated that both Accused knew the cost of building these works so quickly and increasing the agricultural output so drastically. They knew they were pushing people too hard, the same people who did not have adequate food or medical care, and who were living in conditions that would eventually lead to death. People were working fifteen hours a day while there were shortages of food and medicine that led to sickness, pain, and malnourishment.

 

Despite the conditions at the worksites, the leaders continued to celebrate the Great Leap Forward. Ms. Leang said that they even increased the goal to 3.5 tons per hectare and pushed the population even harder to dig even bigger dams. The two Accused played an instrumental role in implementing this policy through their speeches and reeducation sessions where they exhorted their followers to push harder.

 

Ms. Leang explained that the Accused were aware of the situations at the worksites. At one reeducation session, for example, both Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea instructed cadres on how workers who were sick should be considered enemies, and they instructed cadres on how oppressive work and living conditions could be used to draw out enemies. One witness testified to his attendance at this meeting, and his terror at hearing the policy of branding Cambodians who did not work hard enough or were lazy as enemies.

 

In addition, Ms. Leang gave examples of how the Accused have themselves admitted how their policies caused suffering to the Cambodian people. Khieu Samphan did so in a Voice of America interview where he described his thinking about the hardship imposed on Cambodians in order to achieve the plan, saying that he realized that the CPK would not be able to reach this goal unless the people ran faster and faster, and that the Cambodians ran with starvation and some with less food, and they lacked rice and medicines, and he knew this because Khieu Samphan was managing the medicines. Nuon Chea had also acknowledged in a 2007 interview with a German reporter that the progress was too fast and the demands on the people were too high. He also admitted to Thet Sambath, his personal biographer, that the CPK regime may have been destroyed because the Great Leap Forward was very fast.

 

Next, Ms. Leang reviewed and addressed the Accused defenses to these charges, which was primarily that they did not know that people were starving, and that they did not know that conditions were so awful. Ms. Leang pointed out that their own statements show otherwise. In addition to their statements, both Accused traveled throughout the country visiting the sites personally and had the opportunity to witness the conditions for themselves

 

In support of this, Ms. Leang offered evidence from King Father Norodom Sihanouk who had given interviews describing how he traveled with Khieu Samphan through Cambodia in 1976 and describing the conditions that King Sihanouk saw, specifically how work went on day and night, the conditions were like those in concentration camps, that food amounts were insufficient, and the diet was very, very bad. Ms. Leang noted that what Norodom Sihanouk could see, Khieu Samphan could also see. Moreover, Ms. Leang noted that on December 13, 2011, in the same courtroom where this hearing was held, Khieu Samphan himself described how he saw workers walking through rice fields at 4 a.m.

 

In addition to the statements made by both Accused, Ms. Leang reviewed the documentary evidence on the conditions at the worksites and whether the Accused were aware of the stress on the Cambodian people.  Ms. Leang stated that the reporting during the period was extensive. Zones sent reports and records regularly to the party center leaders in Phnom Penh, and, despite the party center leaders attempt to destroy these records before fleeing in 1979, many records have survived.

 

Ms. Leang proposed that these records prove beyond any doubt that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were notified of the starvation, killings, and arrests in their regions. Both Accused received reports that the people in the countryside suffered from disease, starvation, due to lack of medical supplies, food, and overwork. For example, the Central Zone secretary reported that people across the zone were suffering from diarrhea and overheating and he recommended a reduction in work hours. The Northwest Zone reported that there were shortages in many regions and people were only receiving gruel. The Southwest Zone reported that there were shortages, and people had cholera, and were dying.

 

Ms. Leang explained that in addition to written reports, the Accused received reports in person at the leadership office in Phnom Penh from zone and sector leaders who came to report and receive instructions. Witnesses of these meetings included cadres at the K-1 office, the one surviving sector leader who described his trips to Phnom Penh to meet with Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, and Son Sen. Although there are few surviving members of the Standing Committee today who could testify, meeting minutes have survived that detail the rice production, health of people, lack of food supplies, and enemy situation.

 

Lastly, Ms. Leang stated that the Office 870 committee comprised of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, and Doeun, and this office received documented reports of the deaths of Cambodians, lack of food, disease, and enemy arrests. The response from Office 870 was to build more dykes and to ration food supplies.

 

This evidence shows clearly that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan knew of and had ultimate control of the living and work conditions at the worksites.

 

Next, Ms. Leang discussed each of the four worksites, the first of which is the Trapeang Thma Dam. This worksite was in the Southwest Zone, and included a 14km dyke on the east side and an 8km dyke on the south side. It was a huge worksite, and workers were instructed to finish the dam by 1977 to satisfy the needs of the Great Leap Forward. According to the Northwest Secretary, this reservoir was built in less than two months. Khieu Samphan stated in 2013, that, in 1976, he saw canals and dams, including Trapeang Thma Dam, which looked like a sea in the middle of a field where there used to be dry land. He also described this dam in his book.

 

Other CPK leaders visited the Trapeang Thma Dam, including Pol Pot, and it was regularly reported on by the Northwest Zone to Office 870. It was known well enough by the CPK leaders that they could describe it in a 1977 edition of “Revolutionary Youth.”

 

Ms. Leang noted that during this trial, there have been 15 former Trapeang Thma Dam workers and cadres who testified. Like other worksites that were part the Great Leap forward, witnesses described how the people at Trapeang Thma Dam worked day and night with little rest. A company chief at Trapeang Thma Dam testified that during work offensives, workers would work without sleep, sometimes for several days in a row.

 

Khieu Samphan, in considerations on the history of Cambodia, said that workers worked from 3 or 4 a.m. through midnight, and he described the grueling manual nature of the work, including a personal requirement to carry three cubic meters of earth per day, and that food rations were reduced if they failed to meet their quotas. The food rations were already insufficient, as most meals were a small bowl of gruel. One witness said that he was so hungry that he often thought of giving up his life for one meal of rice and chicken.

 

In mid-1977, the Northwest Zone was purged and the cadres were replaced by trusted Southwest cadres. Ms. Leang described how there was no clean water available and the only source was muddy pond water. Ms. Leang offered a documentary example of the knowledge of the top CPK leaders of the lack of clean drinking water at Trapeang Thma Dam, specifically, reference to the lack of clean water in the July-August 1977 issue of Revolutionary Youth and which stated that “[o]bviously, they had to face with the problem of water shortage.” This issue of Revolutionary Youth also described the long hours, difficult conditions of work, and grueling manual nature of the work at the Trapeang Thma Dam.

 

Witnesses, such as a former guard, district secretary, company chiefs testified about seeing youth and Phnom Penh evacuees at the construction site who were thin and ill. The consequences of living conditions such as the lack of food, non-existent hygiene, lack of toilets, and pestilence like flies and lice, were that workers were malnourished and died from over-work. Witnesses explained that they continued to work until collapse because of their fear of reprisals and fear for their lives. Witnesses were not allowed to leave or to visit family, and cadres patrolled the units to prevent workers from escape.

 

Ms. Leang concluded that the conditions at Trapeang Thma Dam, in which emaciated workers labored for 15 hours a day on poor rations, worked until collapse, and were hunted by armed guards if they tried to escape, satisfied the requirements of the crimes of humanity of enslavement and other inhumane acts.

 

Ms. Leang stated that the conditions at Trapeang Thma Dam also satisfy the crime of political persecution. She explained that the company and battalion chiefs were instructed to seek out former Lon Nol soldiers or intellectuals. The chiefs were given the authority to execute these people and anyone who opposed Angkar.

At this point, Ms. Leang paused in her presentation as the time for the mid-morning break had come.

 

Before Judge Nonn called for a recess, he noted that Ms. Leang did not refer to the page or document number of the slides and video clips that she had presented to the Chamber during her presentation. He mentioned that one of the video clips was of King Sihanouk who spoke in French and without a provided Khmer translation. This issue was raised because without document numbers, Judge Nonn could not be certain that the slides presented this morning had been previously presented to the Chamber and the other parties.

 

Ms. Leang responded that she will provide the document numbers to the Chamber and the other parties, and noted that with regard to the video clip of King Sihanouk, he spoke in French on the video and it had not been previously translated into Khmer. Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian provided the Chamber with the video reference number, and explained that translations had not been provided for the King Sihanouk video as the Co-Prosecutors intended to rely on the simultaneous translation provided by court translators during the hearing.

 

Next, Nuon Chea Co-Defense Lawyer Victor Koppe mentioned that his presentation also did not include reference to document numbers with the same expectation that it would improve the flow of the presentation. He requested a resolution to the question now.

 

Judge Lavergne noted that what is important to the Chamber is to be sure that the materials have been presented to the Chamber and have been admitted by the Chamber. Mr. Koumjian offered to provide all parties a list of all audiovisual materials with reference numbers by the end of the day.

 

Judge Nonn thanked the prosecution and suspended the hearing for the morning break.

 

When the hearing resumed at 10:41 a.m., Judge Nonn began by stating that all parties should adhere to instructions in E457/7 (which were the guidelines that the Chamber reviewed yesterday with the parties).

 

Ms. Leang continued her presentation on the crime of political persecution at Trapeang Thma Dam. She stated that witnesses testified that the CPK screened people with relatives who were former Lon Nol soldiers, and who were taken away and disappeared. One witness testified that his parents and sister had been killed because his father was former Lon Nol official.

 

In the West Zone, multiple witnesses testified about killings, disappearances, arrests, beating, and burying bodies of workers killed at the Trapeang Thma Dam site. The also testified that people who were sick were executed as they were accused of being concealed illness.

 

Next, Ms. Leang discussed the 1st January Dam worksite. The 1st January was a 60km long dam in the Central Zone. Like the Trapeang Thma Dam, this was designated a “hot site” which meant extended hours for the workers. Ms. Leang showed an authenticated video of workers at the 1st January Dam, working barefoot, carrying earth in sacks attached to poles that rested on their shoulders, the workers walked quickly in long lines sometimes running to keep their place. They were dressed simply, some had hats, and others used scarves or cloth for head covering, the tools used to break the earth and shovel it were rudimentary, and there was no heavy machinery. The site was enormous and the embankment they had to climb was steep.

 

Nuon Chea, Pol Pot, and other CPK leaders visited the 1st January Dam worksite. The Center Zone secretary visited the site on an almost daily basis and reported back to the party in Phnom Penh.

 

Witnesses testified that Nuon Chea inspected the dam site often enough to see that it was not constructed well, and that Nuon Chea gave instructions to improve the construction. Another video was shown of Nuon Chea inspecting the site, and he is shown in close proximity to the workers and not observing from afar. Like Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea had ample occasions to observe the 1st January dam site.

 

Ms. Liang described a speech that Khieu Samphan gave on April 15, 1977, which was broadcast on the radio. In that speech, he clearly showed his knowledge of the worksites, the number of workers, and the lack of machinery. This speech also showed how Khieu Samphan contributed to the party’s plan to build these sites at the cost of the Cambodian people. At one point in the speech, he described the speed with which the dams were built, and acknowledged the quality of the work by saying that it did not matter if the dam only lasted five years. Khieu Samphan finished the speech by exhorting the people to work at a feverish pace to fulfill the party’s plan.

 

Ms. Liang concluded that Khieu Samphan and the other party leaders’ disregard for the quality of the dam indicated that they did not hesitate to exploit the workers for CPK gain, and that the Khieu Samphan speech indicated the party’s commitment to its policy of building faster than ever before regardless of the human cost.

 

Ms. Liang stated that the workers at the 1st January Dam suffered from crimes that were not due to excesses or failures of their local leaders, but of the leaders in Phnom Penh, who were willing to enslave, deprive people of basic freedoms, force them to engage in hard labor in the most inhumane conditions, and take their lives where necessary to achieve the party’s goals. Thirteen former workers and cadres testified about the conditions at the 1st January Dam, including one witness who was only 12 years old when he was working at the dam. The use of child labor was known to and approved by the top CPK leaders. In his April 15, 1977 speech, Khieu Samphan praised the use of child labor stating that the children of Cambodia were very happy collecting natural fertilizer and helping to build dams and embankments and helping to build reservoirs and ditches. Pol Pot’s nephew testified that he saw children working at the 1st January Dam when he visited there with Pol Pot.

 

Ms. Leang reviewed the testimony of witnesses on the conditions at the 1st January Dam. Witnesses testified that the conditions were almost identical to those at the Trapeang Thma Dam: the workers worked from before dawn until midnight, sick workers were perceived as lazy and punished (assigned to longer work hours, received smaller rations and beatings). There was rampant disease, such as malaria, dysentery, and cholera. There was no medicine or medical care, flies were everywhere, and every ladle of soup contained flies. Women had no form of sanitation or hygiene during their menstrual cycle which was a particular indignity. There were tens of thousands of people working there, with no latrines. One witness said you cannot hide thousands of flies and you cannot hide the smell of 30,000 people who had to defecate on the ground.

 

Ms. Leang concluded that this testimony indicated that the workers were enslaved: they had no choice whether to work, every aspect of their lives was controlled by the party, they could not move around freely, and armed militia patrolled the site to prevent escape and ensure constant work. The fate for workers who did not abide by Angkar’s plans was to be considered an enemy, and then to be smashed as they were blocking the progress of construction.

The Kampong Chhnang Airfield worksite was used to discipline and reeducate soldiers within the RAK who came from regions of the country distrusted by the leaders, like the North and East zones. The workers at this site also included handicapped soldiers. The workers built two runways that were 2.4km long, and a massive underground system of tunnels blasted out of the mountain. Like the other worksites, most of the top CPK members visited it, including Khieu Samphan and other members of the standing committee.

 

Ms. Leang summarized the evidence relating to the testimony: There were no days off, meals were provided twice a day, and workers became thin and sick. The Chinese supervisors at the site had plenty of food and weekly banquets. Witnesses described their extreme exhaustion from the overwork and lack of nutrition. People had to continue work while sick or be accused of being the enemy, which caused workers to work until they collapsed, though they were thin and fatigued. Workers were infected by lice, had to drink water out of the same creek where they bathed. Blasting the tunnels on the site resulted in workers being seriously injured or killed from rock fragments because they could not run fast enough after the explosives were ignited. Installing the explosive into the rock was a method of execution, and no one cared about the health or safety of the workers. These assignments were tasked to people that they wanted to die. Workers were not free to leave the site and constantly monitored by squads of armed guards. Workers were not allowed to move freely, which led many to call this a prison without walls. Workers were required to finish the work quota, no matter how long it took.

 

Ms. Leang suggested that the most compelling evidence of enslavement is the documentary evidence on what happened to those who tried to escape. In one monthly report from 1978, sector troops found three enemies trying to escape from the airport location, the zone reported that troops fired shots, captured the workers, and that one of the captured workers had been sent to the reeducation place for interrogation. West Zone reports included a section on attempted escapes from worksites, and Northwest Zone reports also detailed the investigation, pursuit, shooting and execution of the “enemies” who tried to escape. Though these were different zones and different years, Ms. Leang noted that they all described the same response to escapees from the airport site.

 

Next, Ms. Leang reviewed the crimes and evidence related to the Tram Kok District in the Southwest zone. In 1977 and in 1978, the central committee honored the cooperative for its efforts to increase its production of agricultural product and held it out as a model for the rest of the country. In 1977, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan visited Tram Kok with Ta Mok and others. Witnesses testifying about Tram Kok included base people, new people, three former commune chiefs, a cadre who was district chief of hospital, detainees and guards, the district reeducation officer, and two former secretaries of the district. In addition to the witness testimony, there are hundreds of documents that indicate the crimes that happened there and corroborate the witness testimony.

 

Ms. Leang stated that the evidence showed that there was complete control by Angkar over work, meals, family life, thought, and movement. One witness said the only activities allowed were eating, sleeping, and working. Even going to the bathroom required permission from a unit chief. Personal property was confiscated by Angkar, no picking mangos or coconuts or other field produce was allowed. One witness’s 13-year old son was taken away and killed for picking potatoes. Families were broken up with husbands placed in male units, women in female units, and children in youth units. Children were beaten for trying to see their parents. Pregnant women were forced to engage in hard labor, like collecting cow dung. One witness who was pregnant during her time there said that she was accused of being sick and lazy when she had morning sickness.

 

As in other worksites, the food quota was inadequate to sustain the people, workers often only received a spoonful of rice, or had to work very hard for a bowl of rice porridge. When people became sick as a consequence, they were treated even worse and those who were not able to work had a reduced food ration. The former deputy chairman of Tram Kok District hospital testified to the malnutrition at the worksite, and that the malnutrition only worsened as the regime continued. When asked, he told the CPK leaders that there were so many people in the hospital because there was not enough food, and as a result, he was accused of attacking the cooperatives and his request to increase food rations was denied.

 

Ms. Leang further stated that many workers were arrested and disappeared after they complained of inhumane conditions. There is documentary evidence supporting the lack of food, the complaints by workers, and the subsequent treatment of the complaining workers.

 

Ms. Leang concluded that the crimes of enslavement and other inhumane acts have clearly been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

Judge Nonn thanked Ms. Leang and called for a lunch break until 1:30 p.m., at which point Judge Nonn reconvened the court for the first afternoon session.

Ms. Leang resumed her presentation.

 

Ms. Leang stated that the Accused are also charged with the crime against humanity of persecution on the basis of religion for their treatment of Buddhists. Ms. Leang identified the policy of the CPK during the Democratic Kampuchea regime as one that focused on closing pagodas, disrobing monks, and prohibiting the practice of Buddhism. This information was based on the experience of people who lived through and survived the regime, and who survived a profound change in one of the cornerstones of Cambodian life when they were no longer able to visit pagodas and worship.

 

Ms. Leang maintained that there is simply no credible evidence denying the CPK elimination of Buddhism. She noted that Annex E to the Prosecutor’s Final Brief lists every witness from every zone who testified to this crime in their area. She also said that the defense would have the Chamber believe that it was coincidence that every pagoda was simply closed and every monk defrocked in every corner of the country between the time the CPK came into power in April 1975 onwards. Rather, this was a policy determined by the CPK leaders in Phnom Penh, and the policy was communicated to a mass of top cadres in a meeting in Phnom Penh held from May 20 to 25, 1975. One of the surviving attendees of that meeting testified that both Pol Pot and Nuon Chea talked about the closing of pagodas at the meeting. Moreover, one of the local Tram Kok leaders who attended the May 20 to 25 meeting was the daughter of Ta Mok. When she returned from that meeting, she convened a meeting in Tram Kok where she communicated what was to happen with pagodas, monks, and Buddhism.

 

Ms. Leang noted that two monks testified about their personal experiences in being forced to leave the monkhood. They were told that they could not stay as a monk, and any monk should leave the monkhood or be defrocked. They were told that not following Angkar instructions would lead to their deaths. This event was also confirmed by local cadres and residents.

 

CPK leaders announced in a party circular that Buddhism and the monks no longer existed. Pol Pot and Nuon Chea also announced this at a study session attended by Duch in 1978, and they said that they had succeeded in making monks work at sites. Other contemporaneous documents confirm the reports of complaints of local youth who complained about the missing monks and places of worship.

 

Many pagodas became CPK prisons and killing sites, like Wat Baray Choan Dek, which was located near the 1st January Dam. In the Southwest Zone, 15 of 21 security centers were housed in pagodas. Despite this, Nuon Chea claims that there was no ban on religion. A former Tram Kok District Secretary testified that “Buddhism was eliminated because it was too gentle.” He testified that monks were defrocked, and that the chairperson of the party (Khom) gave the order and the communes implemented it.

 

Ms. Leang stated that the evidence is clear that the CPK implemented this policy both in the Tram Kok district and throughout Cambodia.

 

Lastly, Ms. Leang asked to allow her colleague, Deputy Co-Prosecutor Seng Bunkheang, to present the crime of forced marriage to the Chamber. The request was accepted by Judge Nonn.

 

Mr. Bunkheang began by stating that the CPK believed that they could treat ordinary Cambodians as property to do with as they pleased, and this was shown by the use of the policy to force individuals to wed spouses chosen by the regime and to consummate the marriage.

 

He continued to say that these policies constitute two separate crimes that are legally classified as the crime against humanity of other inhumane acts: first, for the forced marriage, and second, for the rape in those cases where the couple was forced to have intercourse without the consent of one or both individuals.

Mr. Bunkheang explained that the CPK arranged marriages without people’s consent in order to form a revolutionary family loyal to Angkar. This was implemented in every zone and autonomous sector of the country, and in the military division.

 

Mr. Bunkheang stated that both Accused had affirmed that the CPK intended to increase the Cambodian population dramatically from approximately 8 million to 15-20 million people within 10 years. Khieu Samphan agreed with an expert who stated that Pol Pot wanted to increase the population dramatically and not reduce it. Khieu Samphan also gave a speech in which he discussed and supported this policy. Nuon Chea admitted his support for this policy in a 1981 interview, and said that the four-year plan for 1977-1980 had been to increase population to 15 million people within 10-15 years.

 

In addition to the statements of both Accused, Mr. Bunkheang also noted the documentary evidence issued by the CPK which stated that population increased, but not as much as was needed by the party. He noted that achieving a goal of doubling a population that was systematically being starved and killed would require an unprecedented increase in the birth rate. To further these goals, CPK would arrange and approve marriages. Nuon Chea admitted to his approved biographer, Thet Sambath, that “the man always wants to choose a beautiful girl, and that is why we force them to get married and Angkar chose the wife.”

 

Various zone, district, and other CPK officials oversaw the marriage ceremony. This was a policy carried out by individuals at the highest echelons of the party, and its implementation included persons at all levels of society. For example, one witness worked at the Ministry of Commerce, which was overseen by Khieu Samphan. She testified that Khieu Samphan made a speech in which he stated that all female cadres had to work for the state and all females over the age of 19 should arrange to get married. Khieu Samphan did not say whether the marriage should be about love or not, but that women about 19 and male youths about 25 should be arranged to be married. He said that the reason for this was so that they would produce children for the defense of the country.

 

Mr. Bunkheang noted that another witness testified that in 1977, the Ministry of Commerce was told to marry at least 100 couples a month. And a witness from the Ministry of Social Affairs stated that she was forced to marry, and that Angkar arranged the marriages.

 

Mr. Bunkheang stated that this evidence shows that the first marriage policy emanated from the center of the party.

 

In case 002, 54 trial witness testified on forced marriage and 131 witnesses gave written record of interviews of forced marriages. Specifically, 27 witnesses in court testified that they personally were forced to marry; 59 people provided this same evidence through the OCIJ. In addition, 22 people testified to personally witnessing other forced marriages and an additional 52 people provided evidence through the OCIJ that they personally witnessed a forced marriage. This evidence is extensively covered in the final brief.

 

Mr. Bunkheang stated that this and other evidence concerning forced marriage on the case file shows how forced marriages were implemented, men and women who had sometimes never met each other previously could be married and with little or no notice, and parents were rarely if ever allowed to attend the weddings. After the ceremony, the couple had to make commitments to Angkar, and the policy also determined who could marry whom and paired people of similar socio-economic background. One witness testified that base people had to marry base people and not the 17 April people because of their unclear biographies. He said that there was a fear that the 17 April people would be implicated with the KGB or CIA. Youth league or progressive people should only propose to their own people and likewise party members should propose to other party members. This approach to match-making was not documented, but only discussed in the meetings.

 

Forced marriages happened all over the country, and there were reports from zones that showed the number of people who were married.

 

Mr. Bunkheang stated that there was also a concern that the union that was formed should not threaten the CPK. As a result, after marriage, couples were only allowed to see each other for a few days each month – enough for pregnancy but not enough to create a spiritual bond. This was one way the CPK controlled spiritual private property. Khieu Samphan had a comment on controlling spiritual private property around 39 – that bonds include parents, children, someone? King Norodom also had an exchange with Khieu Samphan about this – in which Khieu Samphan told him not to have a family life any more, but only to think of the country. A Ministry of Commerce employee recalled that Khieu Samphan said we were under the supervision of Angkar and should not look for parents because Angkar was the parent.

 

Next, Mr. Bunkheang discussed the marriage ceremonies, noting that ceremonies had many similarities nationwide, though with some small variation. It is not the Prosecution’s position that every partner in every marriage was forced. Rather, it was shown that some fortunate cadres were allowed to marry a partner of their choice. However, almost universally, others did not have the choice of who to marry regardless of if they were a high-ranking cadre or a new person. Once a male cadre had selected a woman, the woman could not refuse the marriage.

 

The prosecution also recognized that many couples who were married parted ways after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, and some did not for a variety of reasons. Mr. Bunkheang stated that those reasons are personal to the individuals and irrelevant to the criminal liability of the Accused in this crime.

 

Mr. Bunkheang highlighted the evidence relating to the coercion to marry and consummate. The couples lacked real choice as to whom to marry, whether to marry and whether to consummate that marriage. Coercion occurred explicitly through threats, punishment, and execution for those who resisted marriages or consummations. Coercion happened implicitly through the climate of fear of punishment in an environment where they were already barely surviving. This implicit coercive environment was created through warnings not to question Angkar, punishments for refusing any order, no matter how small, or breaking any rule, total dependence on the state which was all-powerful, and knowledge that others who had resisted had been punished or killed.

 

In this environment, individual consent to marriage proposed by Angkar was impossible and any refusal could result in branding the person as an enemy and result in refashioning, reeducation or execution. The vast majority of those who were forced to marry were also forced to consummate or have conjugal visits. Both men and women testified about being forced to marry and consummate their relationship with the fear that not doing so would result in their mistreatment or death. Both men and women testified about the emotional harm that resulted in marrying someone they did not know, or did not love, or did not choose.

 

To ensure that the consummation occurred, the new couples were monitored by militia who reported who talked about Angkar and who refused to consummate the marriage, and those who refused to consummate would be taken away for reeducation and executed.

 

Mr. Bunkheang stated that consummation when one or both did not consent constituted rape, and both men and women were subject to rape. Many couples consummated their marriage because they knew they were being monitored and knew that not doing so could result in their death. In some circumstances, men threatened to report their wives if they did not submit to the consummation, and some men forced their wives. When couples did not consummate, they were taken for reeducation, threatened, punished and executed.

 

While the defense acknowledged a desire by the CPK to increase the marriage, they maintain that the marriage policy of the CPK required the consent of both partners. They based their argument on revolutionary moral precepts, in which both parties must agree to a marriage and they claim that this precept accurately reflects the position of the CPK. The Co-prosecutors respond that not only is this refuted by the evidence, but looking at the other precepts, this argument is further refuted. For example, another precept was to not do anything to impact the people, not even give a chili pepper. These precepts do not reflect the reality of the CPK, rather that if it is true that both parties needed to agree, then it is clear that this only happened as a result of the coercion.

 

Nuon Chea claims that there are no specific examples or object reasons why consent is not possible. Mr. Bunkheang said that these are covered extensively in the brief, but a few highlights would be offered now. In one witness’s testimony, she was married to a handicapped soldier who had been blinded in fighting, the witness says that she was married in a group, some of the people cried and two ran away. She said that she cried and was very disappointed as she had never seen her would be husband before the marriage day, but they would be killed so she had to bear the situation. Her husband described the wedding from his perspective to the OCIJ judges – he found out that morning he was to get married, and no one told him he was to get married but he had to do so because they had to follow Angkar orders. Another man said the when he was questioned by the Khmer Rouge about his marriage he said they got along because she was his cousin, but if the man said that they did not get along, they would be required to have sex and a militia person would eavesdrop. If the wife refused, she would be taken to be killed.

 

Further, the defense states that in the cultural context of Cambodia these policies were not harmful or out of the ordinary, rather that they were like parents organizing marriages for their children. Khieu Samphan said that Cambodian marriages were not primarily about love.

 

Mr. Bunkheang said that in making this defense, the defense mischaracterized the criminality of forced marriage – in which lack of love or the involvement of parents does not make a forced marriage criminal. What does make a forced marriage criminal is when the state usurps the role of choosing partners for people, punishes them for refusing, and punishes them for not consummating

 

Lastly, Nuon Chea in his brief likens forced marriage and rape program to countries who have taken to promote an increase of population growth by promoting fertility centers. He describes the forced weddings as a practical and economical decision and the speculation that the militia monitored couples to see if they consummate that they were acting as an ordinary police force trying to protect the village.

 

Mr. Bunkheang stated that one witness was not doing ordinary police functions when he was told to report on couples who refused to sleep together. Nor was a second witness when he was told to monitor the activities of newly married couples. Mr. Bunkheang concluded that considering the Convention of 1966 and the definition of a full and free marriage, CPK marriages came nowhere near.

 

Khieu Samphan said the CPK marriages were an improvement over traditional marriages and the CPK marriages were an insignificant shift from parents arranging the marriages to the CPK arranging them. But Mr. Bunkheang noted that witnesses felt the opposite – they felt robbed of one of the most important traditions in life – choosing a partner and celebrating in traditional ways that have been in place for generations.

 

Many respondents identified forced marriage as an important aspect of the violence the CPK perpetrated against the population in Democratic Kampuchea.

 

The Co-Prosecutors are not saying everyone was forced to marry, but there was a situation where many were forced, and evidence of those who were not does not diminish the evidence of those who were forced to marry. Those at the top who were responsible for the policy tended to minimize the severity of the forced marriage policy or interpret statements of commitment and consent as genuine to minimize their own criminality. In contrast, other witnesses who were cadres who organized marriages and who admitted that the couples in those marriages were forced. Additionally, another said that women did not refuse though she did not like the men, and these women got divorced after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Nuon Chea challenges the occurrence of marriages in various zones, but this is categorically untrue, as there are witnesses in each zone who have testified to forced marriage in those zones.

 

Mr. Bunkheang noted that Nuon Chea seemed to forget that he proposed a witness in the Northwest Zone who had also provided information on forced marriages in that zone. He testified that he and his wife knew each other before their marriage, and he was recommended to her, but other couples were not treated like he was – the others were forced to get married. He also testified that other men who got married that day found out that day who they would marry – they would be asked if man a loved woman b, and if they agreed in the evening they would be married in the morning.

 

Finally, Nuon Chea argues that militia men monitoring couples could not have happened because it would have violated cultural norms. But violating cultural norms was normal for the CPK, for example, the CPK was violating cultural norms to make monks work, and in fact the entire policy of forced marriage violated Cambodian cultural norms.

 

Mr. Bunkheang said that the issue of forced marriage is untouched by the arguments in the defense briefs. The evidence on forced marriage and rape is extensive, painful and irrefutable asking chamber to find both Accused guilty of the crime against humanity of other inhumane acts with regards to the crimes of forced marriage and rape.

Mr. Bunkheang yielded the floor to Assistant Prosecutor Dale Lysak with president’s approval.

 

Mr. Lysak will discuss the crimes committed at the four security or reeducation offices, Tram Kok district office, Kraing Ta Chan, Au Kanseng, Phnom Kraol, and S-21. These were just 4 of 196 security offices identified by DC Cam that were in operation during this regime.

 

Mr. Lysak stated that the execution numbers at S-21 represent just one security center – the scale of killings is an unimaginable atrocity. There were no trials, no appeals, no lawyers, no law, when people were killed on that day. As this Chamber heard from Duch, these executions were under the order of Nuon Chea, Brother #2.

Mr. Lysak showed pictures of some of the people executed at S-21, from a 24-year old woman to a former ambassador to the Soviet Union to a 13-year old Vietnamese girl, whose 8-year old brother and father were later killed as well.

 

Although Mr. Lysak will only discuss the four security centers, he said that what happened at the four in this case was replicated in security centers across the country. Mr. Lysak brought a hard copy of a report numbered E31094, which was a monthly report from the West Zone for July 1978. He described how the report makes a clear statement of the party policy that the zones were instructed to implement with regard to to these enemies. The report includes people who dared to complain of insufficient food, overwork, or separated them from family. It included reports of a man who was sent to reeducation because he was a French national who during the previous regime who played music for foreigners. In every report like this seen by the Co-Prosecutors, there were reports of RAK soldiers.

 

Mr. Lysak stated that the Accused were well aware of what was going on in this country, as the National Co-Prosecutors had discussed earlier today. Standing committee meetings were attended by both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, as Khieu Samphan admitted to the OCIJ. Any doubt is therefore removed that both of these Accused attended meetings where they received reports from regional leaders in their territories. The zone leaders reported on arrests, asked for direction from Angkar, and reported on enemies.

 

Mr. Lysak stated that these documents obviate any argument that the zones were operating independently from the top echelon of the party. There were at last two security centers that failed to destroy all their records – S-21 and Kraing Ta Chan, and as a result, there is no serious dispute of the crimes that were committed at those centers, which has also been corroborated with witness testimony.

 

In Mr. Lysak’s submissions continuing tomorrow, he will address the crimes against humanity that he believes are most closely associated with the security centers: imprisonment, murder, extermination, torture and other inhumane acts. He will also offer some submissions on the two Accused responsibility for those crimes.

Mr. Lysak began to discuss the crime against humanity of imprisonment, defining is as a deprivation of a person’s liberty arbitrarily, that is, without a justifiable legal basis. He stated that thousands of victims were deprived of their liberty and detained at the four security centers. Among the hundreds of witnesses who testified, not one claims that there was a court, or judge, or trial available to them. It was party leaders, and party leaders alone who decided on who was arrested and who would be smashed. He noted that this is the very definition of arbitrary imprisonment and execution.

 

In addition to witness statements, there are surviving documents that related to these crimes. For example, a telegram sent by Northeast Zone secretary to Phnom Penh in which it is decided that comrade Thi should take secret measures to take out networks of poor persons who were identified as contemptibles. Mr. Lysak stated that it is not legally justifiable to arrest and detain someone on the basis of their network, or family, or associate. That is not due process but guilt by association.

 

Judge Nonn next adjourned court until tomorrow at 9 a.m. and instructed security to bring Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to security facility of the ECCC and return tomorrow before 9 a.m.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(c) 2017 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW

Please reload

Share this post:

Follow Genocide Watch for more updates:

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon