Cambodia: Survivor of S-21 Prison Camp Testifies Against Duch
Vann Nath, a survivor of prison camp S-21, took the stand today to testify against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch. Duch ran the prison camp S-21 in which all but 14 out of 15 000 captives were killed. Many were tortured to death, others sucumbed to starvation. Duch has asked for forgiveness saying he was only following orders.
Vann Nath is the first surviving prisoner to testify at the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the former head of the S-21 centre where about 15,000 men, women and children were detained, tortured and executed during the Khmer Rouge's five-year reign.
Only 14 S-21 inmates are thought to have survived.
The rule of the Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot was an incredibly violent and bloody one. The years between 1975 and 1979 saw about 1.7 million Cambodians killed. Civil war had been waged and American bombing missions further served to destabilize the country. At first the Khmer Rouge were welcomed in the city of Phnom Penh. The radical communist Khmer Rouge soon targeted the city people for extinction. For instance, simply being able to read was an offence punishable by execution.
When the world was again allowed into Cambodia, the horror of the past years started to unfold. Hollywood made a feature length film, The Killing Fields that only begins to capture the extent of the crimes against the Cambodian people.
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Narita, Chiba, Japan