Asia-Pacific

Cambodia voices: Sophy Chak

Sophy Chak, 28, works for the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights in Phnom Penh.

Image caption Sophy Chak says he cries when he hears stories from Khmer Rouge survivors

"I was born in 1982, so I didn't experience that period myself, but both my sisters, Kalina and Lya, did. In 1975 Kalina was 10 years old and Lya was only five.

They were sent away from our parents to live in Kang Kuma (children's centre), where they had to make fertiliser for the rice fields.

They were overworked beyond the capacity of their age.

Kalina told me that she was constantly hungry. There was nothing to eat. She was only allowed a small bowl of porridge a day - that was her meal.

Once she went out secretly to pick corn seeds and she got caught. She was tied by the feet and dragged for 150 metres. Soil entered her nose and ears.

Sometimes there was no food for a whole week. She was so desperate she had to go through human waste to pick undigested corn seeds, which she then washed and ate.

She says people don't believe her when she tells that story, because nobody has done such a thing. She says there's no remedy for that and that she'll never forget it.

Image caption Sophy's sister Kalina was 10 years old when she was sent to a camp for children

Lya missed our parents so much, she went to see them while they were working in the fields far away from the children's centre. She had to walk for hours and cross a deep stream. She would have drowned if it were not for a few boys who saved her live.

Kalina had only one piece of clothing which she wore during the day. She was without clothes at night time. She says she lived like an animal.

Lya, who was a little child, says she didn't know what was right and what was wrong. If the Khmer Rouge said something was right or wrong, then in her eyes, that was the case. She had nothing to compare it with.

We lost nearly 20 of our family members. Everyone from my family was tortured and put in prison except for my grandmother and my sisters.

I find it really hard listening to these stories - I want to cover my ears. I always cry when I hear survivors of the Khmer Rouge tell their stories.

Both my sisters don't have huge confidence in the UN tribunal because it was created to make a good impression on the international community. Both want to see the top leaders sentenced, they don't care much about punishment for minions like Duch, who would have been killed himself had he not followed orders from above.

I am myself happy that the tribunal was established. But I agree with my sisters. Duch was not the one who led the regime or created its policies, yet so much money was spent on his trial.

More importantly - he wouldn't have the answers to the questions I am interested in. The leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime are Cambodian, so why on earth did they kill their own people? Who was behind them? I just don't understand it and I want to hear the answers from Nuon Chea's mouth."

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