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Witness Describes Forced Marriage Under Khmer Rouge

This photograph shows the wedding of Nun Huy aka Huy Sre (left) and Prok Khoeun aka Prak Samuth (right). Huy was born in 1951 and served as head of the Khmer Rouge re-education center at Prey Sar, also known as Office S-24. Prey Sar was part of the central internal security complex in Democratic Kampuchea, which also included Toul Sleng Prison (S-21) and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. One prison document, dated 23 July 1977, reports the killing of 18 prisoners at S-24 and bears a note saying "also killed 160 children today for a total of 178 enemies killed." Duch, who oversaw both S-24 and S-21, testified this week that Huy was killed after the escape of his radio operator from Prey Sar. Huy's wife, Prok Khoeun (b. 1953), was an official at S-24 until June 1977, when she became the deputy of an interrogation team known as the "hot group" at Toul Sleng. Source: Documentation Center of Cambodia, Document No. D1175 and K08273. by Dr. John D. Ciorciari.

Hearings against two former Khmer Rouge leaders continued Thursday, as a witness described forced marriage, saying no one had the right to reject the spouse selected for them by the regime.

Cheang Srey Mom, 59, told the court she had been told she would marry a man she did not love with only a few hours’ warning ahead of a ceremony.

“The female group chief came to me and told me that Angkar [the Organization] had to marry me tonight,” she told the court. “I was terrified.” When she told the chief she wanted to ask for her mother’s advice, “she said, why my mother, because I am a child of the Angkor. Then she asked me to prepare for the wedding.”

Chean Srey Mom’s testimony is part of the second and final phase of an atrocity crimes trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

She lost her father, who was killed at the Kraing Tachan security center, just before she was married. After her marriage, she said, Khmer Rouge cadre would secretly watch her and her new husband at night, to ensure they were sleeping together and having intercourse, she told the court. If not, she would have to be “educated,” she said.

“There was the case of a woman in my commune,” she recounted. “The woman did not love the husband prepared for her by the Angkar. She did not sleep with him, and the militia knew it, and got her educated, but she still did not love him. She pretended to follow the Angkar, because she was afraid she would be killed. Some others who did not follow the education, one, two, three times, they would be punished, to carry water, clean herbs and dig the land.”

Chean Srey Mom’s testimony is part of ongoing hearings for the two men, who face charges of atrocity crimes, including systematic forced marriage and rape by Khmer Rouge cadre under their leadership. Those charges were added to a raft of other war crimes, including genocide, as the court continues this phase of the trial.