IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER - Nâng Thet Borey 1931-2008
 


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 Humanity: "The dog that trots about finds a bone." -Golda Meir
 confronting the past
 By Vorak Ny
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WAT POR COMPOUND


Wat Por

Wat Por compound, the makeshift hospital where my brother Dara spent his final days, had been rebuilt and converted into classrooms.

Next to it is a small tin-roofed shack that was used as a kitchen and sleeping quarters for nurses and guards during the regime. Today, it is an administrative building.

A vegetable plot has been turned into a school garden with a flag pole. A small pond nearby was said to have been used as a burial site during the regime. Today it has been filled in. I sat on the school bench for long time and looked around, trying to figure out the exact location where Dara might be buried. Something told me that he is here.

Dara was the youngest boy in our family; he was born in 1965. Polio had left him paralyzed from the waist down. The Khmer Rouge felt that people who were physically or mentally impaired were unfit for the regime, and they attempted to kill him on at least one occasion.

My mother begged them to spare his life. A few days later, Dara tied a log onto his waist and dragged it as the Khmer Rouge looked on. This act alone may have saved him from an early execution.

 

I then went to Mong Russey train station, where Phal and I once followed the ox carts that were transporting rice to the waiting trains. The station is run down and filthy.

Villagers have taken over the passenger waiting area and ticket booth as shelter, while the loading dock and barber shop are abandoned.

The rice warehouse is still operating, though. During the regime, I stole rice from this warehouse, then snuck into the woods across the road and back to Chrey village.


Mong Russey train Station

Under the searing heat of April, I looked at my watch; it was 2:42 pm. I thought I had seen everything I wanted to see. My next stop was Battambang town, where I visited the school my brothers and I shared for a few years before the Khmer Rouge shut it down in 1975.

The house where we had lived for two years was gone; only an empty lot remains. The land is up for sale, along with three other empty lots surrounding it.

I went back to Doun Teav, where the boat dropped us off, and headed down the Sangke River. I only recognized a few places. Doun Teave Lycce, where we took refuge for several nights, has been remodeled and given a coat of fresh paint.


Lycce Net Yong (1975)

I have learned about the horrors of Auschwitz, the Nazi�s mastermind Adolph Hitler, and victims like Ann Frank, but nothing compares to what I saw at Tuol Sleng (S-21).

My suspicions about the brutal murders that took place there have been confirmed by many outsiders like the journalist for Australian's Daily Mirror John Pilger, who called Pol Pot an Asian Hitler in his article, Echo of Auschwitz.

I thank him and others for their courage to write about the regime: Chanrithy Him (When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up under The Khmer Rouge), Dith Pran (founder and president of The Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project), Vann Nath (A Cambodian Prison Portrait in S-21), and Loung Ung (First They Killed My Father; A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers). And acknowledgment is due to the Documentation Center of Cambodia's Director Youk Chhang and its entire staff for their pursuit of justice.

The first full account I read of the atrocities committed in Cambodia was an article in Reader Digest: Murder of a Gentle Land by Anthony Paul and John Barron, followed by Cambodge Anne Zero by Francois Ponchaud, a then a more detailed account by William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia.
Also Read: To My Mother With Love

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About the Author: Vorak, Ny is the founder of www.khmerwriter.com. A survivor of Democratic Kampuchea and a reader of Searching for the truth

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