This section is designed to build up knowledge about what life was like in Kampot province under the Khmer Rouge.

From what we know already this varied by time – some parts had been under the Khmer Rouge since the early 1970’s – and also by location. Kampong Trach seems to be mentioned a lot and we know of some mass executions that took place in or close to Kampot itself.

There are other locations such as Koh Sla and Mt La’ang that are mentioned as being part of KR history since the 1950’s.

We intend to gather case studies from secondary and primary sources and eventually use these to draw some more general statements about what went on in the region until 1980.

 

The story of this family is told in the book “If on this Earth there are Angels”, which tells the story of Addheka, and her older (bong) cousin, Soern.* The family had been living in Phnom Penh since the early 1950’s but their roots were in Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border in Kampot province. Soern was sent back by his family in 1971 to take over and run farming land owned by Addheka’s parents.

He was not there long before he had to flee with his wife and two children who had to negotiate their way through roadblocks, avoid fighting around them and bombs from above, and push their bikes all the way back to the capital. It took them three days. When he returned he joined the Military Police of Lon Nol and did this until April 1975.

What is common to most survivors stories from Takeo and Kampot regions1

Work in the fields or labouring – almost everyone was forced to work in the rice fields or join labour gangs (chalats) that labored on irrigation projects. Most started work before sunrise, had a break in the middle of the day for 1 or 2 hours, at which gruel was served, and worked until sunset at least, often well into the night. Some had to return and tend to vegetables when they got back to their quarters.

Food – the standard unit of measurement is a half size condensed milk can (about 7 cm tall). Distribution was by family initially then by individual when communal eating was introduced, almost everywhere by early 1976. This was initially decided by the subdistrict authorities who decided how much of the harvest would be taken away and how much made available to the people. Then it was up to the powers at the village level to decide how much the workers would get. Amounts varied from 2 cans per person per day in the early days, all the way to a watery gruel with no rice at all.