Asia-Pacific

Cambodia voices: Nong Sakal

Nong Sakal, 45, works for the Cambodian embassy in Brussels.

Image caption Nong Sakal lost all of his siblings apart from one elder brother

"On the morning of 17 April 1975 I ran out alone to Norodom Boulevard not far from my home in Phnom Penh to join other local people who were cheering and welcoming the black-uniformed troops - the Khmer Rouge.

I was 10 years old. Like many other people, I didn't know what was about to happen.

Soon after the Khmer Rouge soldiers flooded the capital, all local families were forced to leave their homes and go to the countryside.

Our family was closely investigated by the local Khmer Rouge authority. My eldest brother had studied military training in the US and my father was a teacher at a high school in Phnom Penh.

We were accused of links with the CIA, we were branded Angkar's enemies (enemies of the Khmer Rouge organisation) and we became a target for destruction.

Our family was forced to resettle in five different places within three years. We were separated and we didn't know each other's whereabouts.

I was sent to a camp for children where I was forced to do heavy work. My parents were put in concentration camps in Pursat Province along with many others who were accused of involvement with the CIA.

Lucky to survive

There was nothing to eat. In order to survive I had to eat raw fish, raw crabs and forest fruits which I'd never known before. Sometimes I'd get poisoned by eating the wrong forest fruits.

Everything around us served as food. But whatever we could find we had to eat it in secret, away from the eyes of the security guards. Otherwise we risked punishment or even death.

Image caption Nong Sakal (the boy with white shoes) with some of his siblings, none of whom survived

I had no proper clothes and a proper place to live, there was no education. We all stayed in the long hut under the strict control of the local security guards.

The living conditions were beyond description. There was incredible hardship for three years, eight months and 20 days. We were hungry, we endured critical health problems, hard work and intimidation. Life was confronted by death all the time.

I was lucky to survive while hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed by starvation and torture.

I lost 10 members of my family. Only me and my elder brother managed to stay alive.

I think that punishment for the top leaders of the regime is really important for the victims and the survivors. Everyone needs justice for the pain they received during the regime.

However, I would prefer to have the real record of confession of what influenced the regime from liberating the country to turning it into the killing fields.

Noun Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Duch are among the core members who can clarify the true intention of the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) regime. They must tell us the truth."

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