To the One Who Conquers
by Dr. Norberto L. Mercado

         LETTER FROM PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA : A Lady Pastor Told Me Her Story As A Child During The Rule Of Pol Pot And The Khmer Rouge From 1975 To 1979 (Part 2)

 I'm now in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Today is December 2,2010.

          This evening, I took a stroll in the city. This is the same place which became a "ghost city" in 1975, when Pol Pot ordered his Khmer Rouge (Khmer communist soldiers) to herd at gunpoint all city dwellers and marched them  to the countrysides of Cambodia -  to plant rice and build new mansions for communist leaders .

          I visited one of these communist mansions in the province of Takeo three days ago.It was owned by Tamuk, the right-hand man and chief executioner  of Pol Pot . He  died under house arrest  at the age of 70. 

         A new Cambodian friend took me there by motorcycle.The mansion is huge - four stories in height. It's color is white. I took a video of it. The mansion was built by forced labor in 1975-1976 when the Cambodian communists overthrew Lon Nol. It is located in the middle of a lake, connected by a concrete bridge. The land on which Tamuk's mansion  stands is reclaimed by the forced labor of the people.

          "Tamuk killed the people himself, not just by his soldiers. He constructed a prison camp at the back of this mansion," my Cambodian friend said.  We went to the back of the mansion and he pointed to me the location of the prison where workers - men,women,children - were kept for execution.

          This is where the story of children  scooping human dungs from toilets and looking for these in forests where women preferred to answer the call of human nature. 

          These human dungs which were  gathered by children day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year from 1975 to 1979, were mixed to the food of the city dwellers and those in the countrysides who were forced to plant rice and do construction work - like building the mansion of Tamuk.

          The  name  of the lady pastor who related this story to me, which was her personal experience as a child, from age  to 10 , isSok Leng . She is one of the three, in a team of 12 children, who survived the Cambodian genocide.She is married to a pastor of a Bible church in Takeo.

          The other two are Bopha and Chaoumran.

          Bopha is in  Takeo, Cambodia. She is a cloth-weaver.

          Chaoumran is living in the US with her American husband.

        "Öne time, Chaoumran and her husband visited Cambodia. She came to our house for a visit. I asked her if she still remembered the years we were gathering human dungs to be added to the pooridge being cooked for the people who were working in the fields. She motioned her hand, and requested me not to recall those years," Sok Leng told me.

         "What do you feel when you recall those years of your childhood?"I asked her.

      '' Ängry.  Before I got married, I entered the police force. I was a policewoman. I wanted to use my gun and kill the communist soldiers who did those things to us. But God has a different plan. He saved me and gave me a new life as a pastor," she told me.

          The teams of children instructed by the Khmer communist soldiers to gather human dungs and to add these to the day-to-day pooridge (lugaw) for  the food of forced laborers,  were composed of 6 boys and 6 girls. All the six (6) boys in Sok Leng's team died of diseases. Of the six(6) girls, only three survived. Many children in many teams  died of diseases and executions. 

           According to Pastor Sok Leng, children were killed by the Khmer Rouge(communists) when they cried because they missed their parents, when they disobeyed orders, or when they went  home and didn't come back. The Khmer Rouge took  them back from their parents and executed them by using sickles .( Hammer and sickle is the symbol of communism ) .

       '' Before the  children were executed, their hands were tied to the back by the Khmer Rouge. They were executed either standing or kneeling," she said.

           Pastor Sok Leng also told me that the Khmer communists used human dungs as medicine. They mixed these with charcoal (uling) . These were given by the communist soldiers to the sick  people. The "medicine"were to be   orally taken by field workers who were  sick!!!

           I have read and heard stories about the Cambodian genocide. But this is the first time that an eyewitness to the genocide  personally told me her experiences in gathering human dungs together with her team of 12 children, to be added to the pooridge being cooked day after day for the people's food. And for medicine!!!

           The lack of food, and dirty food, was one of the major causes of the deaths of more than three million (more than 3,000,000 ) Cambodians, out of a population of seven (7) million!!! For the past decades since the genocide took place, I thought there were only two million (2,000,000) deaths because that's what western journalists reported.

           After my evening stroll in the city of Phnom Penh, I ordered  noodles in one of their  cafeterias. As I ate the noodles, I felt like vomitting because I could not help thinking of the story of Pastor Sok Leng. I realized how sensitive my stomach is.