My Memories through My Family







Sayana Ser


I was not born during the Khmer Rouge period, but I am aware of some of the events that passed during that time through members of my family. 


17 April 1975 was a day filled with hope for all the people of Cambodia.  It was also the first day in which the Khmer Rouge brought a life of difficulty, hardship, separation, and burning suffering to the people of Cambodia and brought incredible destruction to the country.  I still remember the stories of my parents that they had encountered and experienced during the Lon Nol and the Khmer Rouge regime. 


17 April 1975, was the day in which the Khmer Rouge liberation army gained victory over the Lon Nol Army.  The Khmer Rouge army successfully captured the city of Phnom Penh and broadcast their victory throughout the country of Cambodia.  The Lon Nol army dropped their weapons and ceased fighting. Throughout the cities and provinces they asked to surrender and defect.  After hearing the broadcast on the Khmer Rouge radio, they captured the entire city of Phnom Penh and the war ended at that this time.  On this same day, the country became stable. 


On the other hand, in Pailin, on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of April, no Khmer Rouge armies entered the city.  People only saw armies stationed in Pailin province marching with vehicles carrying small and large armies, tanks, and weapons large and small.  Refugees traveled on the road to O’Lac near the border of Cambodia and Thailand.  When the army in Pailin completely departed on the 20th of April, the Khmer Rouge army entered.  After people saw the Khmer Rouge marching in, the people, both men and women, young and old, went out to welcome them.  They had feelings of happiness and strong congratulations. They yelled, “Bravo, to the Father King!  Bravo to the Father King!  Bravo to Peace!  Bravo to the Liberation Army!”  Along the streets, the national road, and the path downtown, there were men and women traveling with white cloths tied to their wrists.  On their motorcycles and cars they tied banners pleading for peace and surrender.  


Within the three or four days, the people had many reasons to be happy.  Everyone’s faces were beaming because they thought they had gained a certain peace, there was no more war, and they could once again reunite with their children, relatives and friends.  One ought to feel pity for the people of Cambodia at this time, because their happiness was like a short dream that was shattered beyond what anyone could expect.  After the three days of joy and merriment, the Khmer Rouge Liberation Army, dressed in black, rode in their motorcycles and announced on their microphones commanding all the Cambodian people to abandon their homes, villages, and districts and to relocate in regions far away.  But deceptively, they asked the people to leave their villages for only three days so that Angkar could re-organize their villages and districts.  They aid that after everything was prepared and organized, then all brothers and sisters could return once more.  After they heard this announcement, the faces of the Cambodian quickly demonstrated their disappointment.   Tears once again began to fall because they were forced to abandon their property, their homes, and their villages.  Some cried because they had to separate from their family, their children, their parents, their grandparents, and their husbands and wives who lived far away and were unable to meet.   Instead, they had to flee further away from each other.   Not only this, but the Khmer Rouge also gradually began to use mischievous methods of execution and murder.  They announced for young and old women to cut off their long hair and keep their hair short.  If they saw anyone with long hair, they would shave it off.







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Ten Years of Independently Searching for the Truth: 1997-2007


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