A Female Khmer Rouge (Cham Muslim) Comrade
Documentation Center of Cambodia
"I've never regretted
about the efforts I made for the revolution, but I am disappointed with my
said Mousa Sokha.
Mousa Sokha aka Sun Sokha, is a former president of a women’s
sub-district association in Democratic Kampuchea (DK) Regime. Before taking this
role, she was a chief of children unit in the performing arts sector. She was
born in Chymoan, Krek sub-district, Ponhea Krek district, Kampong Cham province.
Her mother is Matt Chao and her father is Sun Chea (A Khmer joins Islam). She
has thirteen children and is expecting another baby. Three of them have married,
six under her full responsibility and four died a month or a week after birth
due to diseases. She is 43 now. Her husband, named Noh Loas, is 45, and was an
ammunition carrier during DK regime.
Today, she earns her living by growing corn, beans and other crops in her
two-hectare land, which earns her a small amount of money. Her husband is a
rubber plantation worker in Snuol and brings in some money for the family. Sokha
possess a limited medical knowledge, sufficient for her to provide basic medical
assistance to her neighborhood. This minor expertise is one of the two legacies
she inherited from the Khmer Rouge regime. The second one is political,
ideological and organizational concept.
Sokha was born in 1959. Her parents sent her away to live in the
care of her grandmother in Po En village, Kaong Kang sub-district, Ponnea Krek
district, Kampong Cham province. Then, her grandmother enrolled her in a school
to study Khmer literature and culture. When she reached the third grade, her
education was interrupted by a strike in 1965. Her ambition at the beginning was
to become a doctor, since she thought that this knowledge would be indispensable
for her and her family in times of sickness. Her second wish was to become a
tailor. Sadly, she obtained none of her wishes.
Consequently, Sokha began to study Islamic traditions and customs.
In 1972, she decided to join Khmer Rouge revolution. She was a sociable and
capable person in her village. She recalled her past, “Upon entering the period
of coup d'état of the Revolutionary National United Front, villagers, like
elderly Kin, thought that I was a the most educated adolescence in Khmer
language. So they appointed me as a chief of the children unit.” Not only Sokha,
the villagers, old and young in the village were happy to serve the revolution.
Sokha stated that, “There were some campaigns, carried out by a Khmer Rouge
cadre (Elder Salatt). He persuaded all people to join the revolution through
district, sub-district and village chiefs. For instance, fifty children of my
village enlisted in the revolution, and I became their leader. No one forced us;
they just launched a simple campaign as it was normally done, and we believed
that it was good, so we joined.”
The Memory of the
In 1974, she was married to an ammunition carrier youth, called
comrade Noh Loas. Mentioning about the wedding, she seemed to change her facial
expression. She said that she should not marry too young, because she still
loved working. She told me, “I regretted for marrying…I've been regret till
today…if I had not married, nothing would have happened. As a wife, I had to
think about my family—living conditions and the kids—so I spent very little
attention to working.” When she was single, there had been many men admiring her
beauty, and plenty of them got broken-hearted when she got married. One of them
was a youth, called comrade Sen, who had been living in the same village with
her. Comrade Sen had been a close friend of comrade Noh Loas. He had climbed up
to Sokha's house in the middle of the wedding days and uttered, “I don't care
about the wedding, since we are not a predestined couple! However, I'll be
waiting for you forever, no matter how many children you have.” “At that time, I
was young and bright; I am not proud about this…there were many people in the
village, who adored my beauty, even Elder Matt Ly's nephew. His family also
proposed to my family for marriage,” she continued.
Sokha married in 1974, at the age of 15, and her husband was 17.
Their marriage had been arranged since they were young. The parents of the two
sides worked together in the village. Comrade Noh Loas's father was a squad
chief, while Sokha's was a village chief. Sokha and her husband had always
played together when they were kids. The villagers had always teased them about
their relationship. Sokha's mother-in-law had usually said to Sokha's parents,
“When they grow up, I'll marry them.” As the strikes had broken out, Sokha had
been ordered to go to Po En village, while Comrade Noh Loas to Chymoan village.
When both of them had grown up, the elderly of both sides revised their promise.
Even though Comrade Noh Loas already had a new fiancée, he broke the engagement
with her and married Sokha. Sokha revealed, “The elderly reconsidered our past
relationship. My husband was going to marry his fiancée; but most people
disapproved of it, so he broke the engagement with her. When his mother inquired
him about me, he was silent. So his parents proposed the marriage to my family
in a traditional way, and he abandoned his fiancée.” Before married, comrade Noh
Loas was studying at grade 7.
Sokha and comrade Noh Loas seemed to be luckier than their fellow
villagers, for a month after their wedding a new law was passed banning people
from decorating their bodies with imperialists’ jewelry. Sokha recalled, “It was
barely a month after my wedding that the new law was put in effect. Even false
jewelry was banned. Everything used for bodily decoration was considered as
imperialist.” Sokha spoke with laughter that by that time, five to ten couples
had already been forced to marry.
If a couple rejected each other, they would be summoned for
reeducation. Newly married couples
were separated. They could meet their spouses once a month, by bribing village
chiefs and the women’s unit.
In her wedding, Sokha had been accompanied by bridesmaids, worn
diverse jewelry, like necklaces and rings, but dressed in black clothes with
tire sandals. The party was even entertained by performance of the local art
club. She remembered that a singer, called comrade Dam Pheng, sang a song
entitled Dam Pheng. Dam Pheng was a chief of an art club, in Tnaot sub-district,
Ponnea Krek district. He was born in Ba Phnom district, Prey Veng province, into
a poor peasant family. In a revolutionary novel (Quoted from various newspapers
and magazines) named “The Courage of Kampuchea's Revolutionary Citizens and
Army,” from page 34 to 58, described a detailed account of Dam Pheng's
biography. He was an outstanding revolutionist of the time. Remarkably, there
were published poems composed by him. The poem was written “I caress my
delicate, red heart and I make it stronger day-by-day, so that it is ready to
serve our priceless revolution and help the poverty-stricken proletariat. And
now the time has come; Kampuchean people is in desperate need for it to relieve
About ten days after singing in the wedding, he was imprisoned. A
notebook of political study is stored in the Documentation Center. This book
described about "different characteristics of revolutionary cultural
conservationists and anti-revolution cultural conservationists," and criticized
that "these two cultural conservationists were completely distinctive." The
former possessed the absolute spirit to struggle against the enemies in order to
liberate their nation and people, and class. Whereas the latter cared only about
money; they did what they could to get money, although it meant betraying their
nation and countrymen.
Only three days after marriage, Sokha was separated from her
husband, leaving them with no time to share their new life together, for the
reason that Angkar needed more forces to overthrow Phnom Penh. The order letter
written to Sokha's husband was "comrade Loas, you have to go to the
battlefield." Sokha, then, beseeched the sub-district chief to let her husband
stay, but that was a useless effort. In reply, the chief reminded her about her
pledge when she requested permission to marry from the authorities "Comrade, you
have to devote yourself, for when you came here to fill in the forms to get
permission to marry, you promised to us already."
Just a night after Sokha's husband had gone, Phnom Penh was
captured. So comrade Loas returned to live with Sokha and their first baby was
soon born. In 1976, Sokha gave birth to a son. Tragically, just a week later her
son died of disease.
Life in the
After being a chief of child unit in the art sector, Sokha was
chosen as a chief of an elderly unit. As a leader, she had to attend a meeting
everyday. The meeting always presented about faults, and the tasks of criticism
and self-criticism. Sokha was an adviser. Those who made too many mistakes would
face a hard time. Sokha expressed that if they did not change after four or five
mistakes, they would be called up to be reeducated. "The word ‘reeducation’ was very serious," she
As a Khmer Rouge cadre, Sokha understood this word as clearly as
others. "Reeducation, I thought, was a measure taken against those who continued
to make the same faults for four or five times, he or she would be taken away to
unknown destinations—imprisoned or what- you could not guess. This word meant a
lot. Probably, they were not reeducated. They were killed. The internal
regulation stated one could only make five moral mistakes," said Sokha. She
meant that those who had made five moral mistakes and still did not improve
would be punished in the form of imprisonment, or perhaps, execution. Sokha
narrated her daily tasks, "They set a formal regulation. The morality of living
consisted of fifteen points. They wrote like that. After work, we met in a
meeting to assess the progress of the jobs. Comrades who failed to achieve their
tasks had to present their reasons. As a chief, I had to write a summary of the
meeting's discussion. Say, for example, this comrade has done this much today
and spoke in a polite way, so he or she was given a score. Furthermore, the
meeting set new tasks for everyone—harvesting rice or other tasks informed to me
to tell them. We did only that much everyday and nothing else."
Sokha mentioned, "In the morning the Khmer Rouge tolled the bell
to wake everyone up. People had to be very punctual, unlike today. Their
regulations were strictly enforced.
After everyone was in line the old were told to sing a song entitled
'Wake up every slave.'" Sokha may never forget the national song of Democratic
Kampuchea, because she monitored the woman sector every single day.
"Wake up, servants, impoverished people! We are enraged and unable
to express our feelings so that our chests almost burst open. This time we won't
be afraid of death. The old regime will soon be overthrown, servants please
stand up! Tomorrow we'll be under a new regime, in which we do everything for
ourselves. This struggle is the last. Together we'll join with the
Talking about the policies of the Khmer Rouge, Sokha seemed to
think that everything was good, except for two shortcomings—slaughtering people
and forcing Muslim-Khmers to eat pork. In avoiding this anti-religious act,
Sokha and her family requested permission from Angkar to cook food at home, by
saying that her husband, who was an ammunition carrier, was having some
colleagues coming to their home. Her pretext worked very well. Later, after the
Vietnamese invaded two or three times, the Khmer Rouge began to ban
Muslim-Khmers from cooking privately. They had to eat with the army and
Sokha disapproved of this order, "Never, never had it been like
that. Their reason was the same—for the revolutionary front. No one dared to
talk about religion. They banned worshipping, ordered us to eat pork and cut our
hair. No pagoda. Monks were forcibly excommunicated."
Regarding the slaughtering of people, Sokha asserted that one day
when she was transplanting rice at Svay Chreah sub-district, Snuol district,
Kratie province, she saw a Khmer Rouge cadre undress a women and cut off her two
breasts to fry for food. This cadre was called Ski, a chief of youth unit. (He
is alive, however his address is unknown). Sokha was frightened with the sight
and began to worry about her mother. Her mother, called Mat Chao, suffered a
heart attack, and could not undergo heavy work. Due to her absenteeism, the
Khmer Rouge arrested her right at her home. Sokha worried that her mother's life
was in danger. Luckily, Sokha's
husband caught them up with his ox cart and took her back home, since he was
quite a prominent figure in the village.
After returning to her homestead in 1979, the couple lived
comfortably, and even owned a house with a tile roof. But their prosperity was
short lived. They were cheated by a friend working in the Ministry of Interior.
Troubles began to creep into their family. Sokha's husband became despondent due
to the complete loss of their wealth they had saved for a long time. Sokha was
responsible for the debts. Their remaining property was sold to pay those debts.
With no money, they built a small hut in Krasaing Sre Veng village, Dambe
sub-district, Kampong Cham province, and ran a small business earning just
enough for their daily needs. In 1985, Sokha decided to act as a "double-faced
person". In her area, former Khmer Rouge and ordinary people lived together. The
people living there learnt to adapt themselves to the environment, otherwise
they would have troubles.
Sokha said that a provincial police superintendent (1985), named
Ly, employed her as his spy. At the same time, with the Khmer Rouge, she helped
to sell their equipment, such as radios and walkie-talkies, and sometimes
exchange money from dollar currency to Riel currency for them. The Khmer Rouge
used the money to pay the salaries to their rank and file. Sokha worked, as
well, with Nuon Pet (aka Khann Soeun) in division 920 and Long Yin in division
1003. Acting as a spy for the State of Kampuchea and as a trader for the Khmer
Rouge, Sokha went in and out of the forest and Phnom Penh in order to observe
the Khmer Rouge and to buy and sell goods for the Khmer Rouge. She said that she
used to report to the State of Kampuchea to raid a position of the Khmer Rouge
in the forest. Sokha also claimed that she sold dollar currency for Riel at O
Reusey Market, at a house of [former official] managing director of rubber
plantation. Her life as a spy and trader was full of dangers.
Sokha's life was like those of other spies, whose fatal day
awaited. One day, she brought into
her house two Khmer Rouge soldiers, 920 and his messenger. She said that before
doing so, she had informed the [national] police already. This Khmer Rouge
wanted to meet their colleagues in Phnom Penh. However, this attempt was
aborted. They were all arrested and caged. Sokha asserted that they arrested
even her because they wanted to earn a good reputation. Relevant to the
documents relating to Nuon Chea, which she took from the Khmer Rouge, Sokha
confirmed that she had offered them to the provincial authorities
When Sokha was holding a position as a chief of "elderly unit" she
seemed happy and proud. However, due to her difficult living condition of today,
she had to stop thinking about the revolution anymore, and spend much more time
caring for her family. She spoke in sadness that she'll never regret about the
efforts she made for the revolution, but she is disappointed with her present
life: "I have never been remorseful about my life in the revolution. But for
some reason, I just have a bad feeling. I struggled in the past… and now I am
poor. Now, I need a job to promote my family's living condition."