SEARCHING FOR A MISSING FATHER
answering my request. Odam, Samnath, Vanthang and I are always in touch. They
all are married with kids now; time flies so fast, doesn’t it? I have been
following your work from the start, but I didn’t want to disturb you until now.
How are you and
your family? It has been nearly 15 years now since we parted in Thailand. I
talked to Hong Song Dara (construction in KID); he told me you were also in
Cambodia with UNTAC, but for some reason, we never crossed paths in that
one-year period. Where were you and with what component?
My father’s name
was Korn Ty Chheang, but in Pol Pot time he changed it to Lim Chor to avoid
detection. However, they still found him in 1977. My father was born in Takeo in
1929 and joined the French Colonial Army around 1948. He was stationed in Thmar
Pech, Kampong Cham province until the French left and Cambodia gained
independence. He was later transferred to Kampong Speu and then to Phnom Penh
after the coup in 1970. He was a major in the Artillery Division.
After Pol Pot
entered Phnom Penh, we went to his hometown in Takeo province, and later were
put on the train to Sisophon. My family was “distributed” to Bos-sbov village in
Phnom Srok district in late 1975. There, my father still went by the name of Lim
Chor, hoping that no one knew his background. But unfortunately, there were
people from his home town who knew him and were sent to the same village with
us. To gain favor from the village leadership, they reported my father’s army
background to the district security chief. However, with luck and hard work, my
father managed to hang on until March or April of 1977. One night around 10:00,
according to my mother, the group leader came to the hut and called him see the
village chief for a meeting. My mother knew right away that this must be the
end, but dared not to ask or do anything. My sisters and I were in the fields at
that time. My father never returned. Thereafter, we were warned to shut up and
forced to take double workloads every day.
A few weeks later,
I was told that my father was seen in Phnom Srok, the district capital, which is about 5 km from Bos-Sbov. But
back then, there were all kinds of rumors and it was hard to verify because, as
you know, you could only whisper to close friends.
I know that there
is almost no chance that my father is still alive, but I just want to get a
sense of closure on this ordeal. Moreover, after reading Issue 9 of your
magazine (September 2000) on Mass Graves in Banteay Meanchey, I hope that there
may be some documents or witnesses that can shed some light on what happened to
my father, especially Mr. Chhum Ruom, a deputy district governor and former
prisoner in Phnom Srok, who was interviewed by your magazine. Maybe he can help
if we can contact him.
Youk, thank you
very much for your kind attention in this search and if you need anything, just
let me know.