This is a true story...

by DR. Norberto L. Mercado

    Letter from Takeo, Cambodia: A Cambodian Lady Pastor Told Me Her Story As A Child During the Rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge

Thank you for praying for me in my trips. Lots of adventures

But God saw me through all of these.

I'm here in the Takeo province, Kingdom of Cambodia .

It is educational and fruitful to immerse one's self with the people in the countrysides.

They have simple lives.

This afternoon, we had a fellowship beside a lake here in Takeo. This is the province where the murderous KHMER ROUGE (Khmer reds or communists) began their movement.

Not far from the place where we had fellowship near the lake is the mansion of Tamuk, built by forced labor in 1975-1976, upon the victory of the Khmer Rouge  when they ousted Lon Nol from power.

Tamuk was the right-hand of Pol Pot. He controlled the army in five provinces, including Takeo, and shared power over the army in all provinces.  He died in 2007 at the age of 70. He was the most murderous, most ruthless, among Pol Pot's lieutenants.

This afternoon, I interviewed a woman here in Takeo who is now a lady pastor. I want to write her story in a book. She is married to a pastor, and they have three children (all boys) . One died in a car accident .

She was born in 1970, and was around six(6) years old when the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot came to power. She was about ten (10) years old when the Khmer Rouge were ousted by the Vietnamese Army.

Her story is funny and horrifying at the same time.

She told me that all the children in her village, and she was one of them, were assigned by the Khmer Rouge to gather human dung everyday.

The Khmer Rouge soldiers  would wake them up at 4:00 AM, sometimes 3:00 AM,  DAILY.

THE CHILDREN WERE GROUPED INTO 12 MEMBERS EACH GROUP - 6 GIRLS and  6 BOYS.  Their assignment by the order of the Khmer Rouge  : To gather human dung up to 12:00 PM, have lunch, and then gather dung again from 1 PM to 6 PM. Dinner would be at 7 PM.

They would do this everyday, from Monday to Sunday, week after week, month after month, year after year during the rule of the Khmer communists(Khmer Rouge) under Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Non Chea, Tamuk and all the other communist murderers.

And you know what the Khmer communists did to the human dung those children gathered everyday?

They ordered the children to mix them with the food the people were eating everyday! Human dung became an added food for the people because there was less food to eat !!!

So, in every meal that the people in their village in Takeo ate, human dung was added!!!

The lady pastor (who was a child then) was one of those assigned to taste the food. She said the Khmer Rouge would not want to taste it.

Many of the children who gathered human dung day after day died.

In her group of 12 , 9 died - 6 boys and 3 girls. Only three (3) survived. She was one of the three. Two of them are in Cambodia. One is in the US - she married an American when she grew up.

She said that if the children would cry, the communists would  tie their hands to the back,  and kill  them.

"Ï didn't cry,"she told me.

The children were separated from their families. They were allowed to join their parents only for one hour, once a week.

Then, the Khmer Rouge expected them to return to duty and work. Otherwise, they would be taken from their parents and killed.

She said that hunger was so bad they would eat leaves of trees, and grasses - anything they could eat. But they would eat only as a group - not alone.

 Anyone caught by the Khmer Rouge soldiers eating leaves or grass all by himself or herself was killed for disobeying the order of the communists.

Out of seven million Cambodians, the lady pastor told me that  more than three(3) million died during the rule of the Khmer communists. Not two million as reported in the past. They died of execution by  bullets and  sickles, famines, sicknesses such as cholera,malaria, and diarrhea, and simply exhaustion from daily farm - communal work.

She said that the Khmer Rouge soldiers were so young - mostly only young boys and teen-agers. They all wore black uniforms.

You know, if I stay long here in Cambodia, I could write more books and novels out of the people I am interviewing.

I'll be back to the Philippines via Saigon on Friday.