ON 40 Anniversary of the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, Sophoan Seng, one of the survivors compiles a collection of painful stories told by other survivors.
I read them all with the vivid images of my own parents and blind grand-mother among the millions who believed in the lies of the Khmer Rouge and left the city as they were told. I did not live with the Khmer Rouge regime but as a Khmer woman, the suffering of not saying goodbye to my beloved parents and to my grand-mother with whom I shared my adolescent years have been with me for the past 40 years.
When my husband and I returned to Phnom Penh with our two toddlers in 1989, we saw uncovered mass graves everywhere. The bones were almost fresh. Our daughters learned the painful truth of genocide. Now all these mass graves are covered up and the bones have desappeared except in some places such as in Cheung Ek, the genocide museum or at Ou Doung.
I think the mass graves and the bones should have been kept untouched. I think that the uncovered mass graves could have been a way for our people to learn the truth, in particular our youths. A comprehensive and engaging reconciliation process parrallel with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal would be more significant, a healing process, teaching us to reject violence.
Unfortunately, the violence is still part of us. Every day men, women, teenagers and even children committ the most hineous act of violence such as gang killings with samurai swords, decapitating in cases of domestic violence and rape. That is not healing.
It is for this reason that i think we should embark with Lauk Prathean Sam Rainsy and Mr. Hun Sen in this new culture of dialogue. They are willing to put aside their personal differences and even to hold themselves respondible to the nation should their political and personal commitment fail. It is the moment our people and our beloved nation have waited for all these 40 years.
All we are saying is give peace a chance.
This begins with each and everyone of us.
Mu Sochua, MP
SOPHOAN SENG ‘s STORY
40 Year of Memos, Story Telling, Healing and Moving Forward for all Cambodians
This 40 years, it is my first time to recall back my past turbulence and my family. I was born at an architectural still house in the heart of Siem Reap in 1976, one year after the ascending to power of the Khmer Rouge. I am recalled by mother since I was very young on many things that I am having difficulty to remember. I have remembered clearly only my birthday I was frequently asked to recite it in Khmer traditional lunar calendar. My father passed away since I was in the womb. I have never seen the face of my father even though through the photo. Mother told that all family pictures and photos were totally destroyed to avoid catching up as enemy and facing death penalty. My mother passed away when I was 11 years old. The bitter story has later little been told by my survival two older sisters. All my four siblings were killed during the regime. I have no clue tills today that how could I pen about them or figure out about their face accurately? During the Khmer Rouge period, I have no memory at all except some flashing image occurring within my head on how bad I was crying inside the Buddhist worshiping hall to ask for mom and to scavenge for food to eat. But I remembered the starvation and famine during the presence of Vietnamese solders patrolling surround my house in Phum Dang-het, Srok Chi Kraeng. I think during 1979 to 1980, there was famine throughout the country.