A Female Khmer Rouge (Cham Muslim) Comrade





A Female Khmer Rouge (Cham Muslim) Comrade


By Bunsou SOUR

Documentation Center of Cambodia


"I've never regretted about the efforts I made for the revolution, but I am disappointed with my present life," 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 Wedding Days


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 their suffering.” 

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 Revolution


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 exclaimed.


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 world."


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 cooperatives.


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.


Double-faced Life


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 already.


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."








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