Khmer Rouge, Cambodian Government Suffer Memory Failure in Court: This Might Help
By Nate Thayer
The witness at the moment on the stand testifying against Ieng Sary in today’s Khmer Rouge trial in Phnom Penh seems to be suffering a memory lapse. Let’s try to help him, and a few others who have remarkably similar maladies. The three leaders of the Khmer Rouge in the docket: Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, and Ieng Sary. The chief witness on the stand is Long Narin, for the last 30 years, Ieng Sary’s chief spokesman and closest loyalist.
He seems to be having memory problems. Let me see if this jogs his memory:
On August 6 1996, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge clandestine radio burst on the air and called for “the arrest and destruction of Ieng Sary and his miscreant clique,” said the radio announcer,”Ieng Sary has hidden himself among the resistance fighters for years,” stole party money, and was nothing less than an “agent of Vietnam. He is therefore sentenced to death.” The Khmer Rouge radio announcer whose voice it was? Khieu Samphan.
That would be Ieng Sary, Pol Pot’s brother-in-law. For relevant historical context, the two had been sentenced to death together already-together-as the “Pol Pot--Ieng Sary clique” in 1979 by the Vietnamese installed Hun Sen Government compromised of ex-Khmer Rouge..
On August 7, 1996, Ieng Sary replied on his newly acquired—now rebel—radio station. The Ieng Sary radio crackled from the jungle denouncing Pol Pot as “the cruelest and most savage of murderers” naming Nuon Chea as Pol Pot’s chief “henchman.” “The war criminals are nobody else but Pol Pot and his handful of henchmen: Nuon Chea…who are the mass murderers of the people of Cambodia, committing until now enormous crimes against mankind. As such, they are sentenced to death.”
Ieng Sary’s radio concluded that “This impetuous mass movement, this groundswell swept up all at once the bloodthirsty, dictatorial clique of Pol Pot and Nuon Chea…” The radio voice, reading from a statement signed in Ieng Sary’s name, ended with “I have decided to resume leadership.” The man whose voice it was? Long Narin. --The man testifying this morning in the docket unable to recall the “details” of his relationship with defendant Ieng Sary.
And for good measure, 3 days later Pol Pot’s radio announced: “The Cambodian people are not confused. They can tell gold from shit…So one-eyed Hun Sen, out-and-out lackey of communist Vietnam, stop barking like a mad dog to deceive others. You yourself have already been sentenced to death.” The announcement was made in the name of Khieu Samphan.
That same day, Ieng Sary’s radio went on the air with the voice of Long Narin and cleared things up a bit: “Constant mutual suspicion reigns,” Long Narin, chief spokesman for Ieng Sary declared.
That radio station was a gift of Hun Sen. Who promptly welcomed Ieng Sary back into the national fold and government. On 14 August, 1996, Hun Sen publicly declared over His radio, “I would like to guarantee the life, the security of Ieng Sary,” the same man he had sentenced to death a few years earlier. But now, Hun Sen had a change of heart and appointed Ieng Sary the new Governor of the Province of Pailin. He also loudly called for, and received, a royal pardon from all previous crimes issued by King Sihanouk. And he recognized Ieng Sary’s newly named political party The Democratic National Union Movement.
However Hun Sen’s then co Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, objected: “Pol Pot, Ieng Sary…at least five or six of them are completely unacceptable.” Hun Sen dismissed that remark less than a year later when he launched a bloody coup, murdering and torturing scores of Ranarridh’s supporters and driving him from power. A number had their tongues ripped out while alive, under interrogation, or their eyes gouged out, or their penises chopped off and stuffed in their mouths, before being executed by leaders of the current government holding a trial against ex colleagues accused of committing “crimes against humanity” and “torture” in Phnom Penh.
On September 8, 1996, DNUM issued a typewritten document in English and Khmer and signed on official DNUM stationary and signed “Long Narin, Spokesman”. The document said “following the decision not to participate in the UNTAC organized elections, the dictatorial Khmer Rouge leadership was obliged to move its headquarters…At that time, though the old fox Pol Pot decided not to publicize his Machiavellian decision about His Excellency Ieng Sary for fear of the People’s and the Army’s opposition. His Excellency Ieng Sary had no more position in the leadership.” (signed) “DNUM Chief Spokesman, Long Narin”
The Ieng Sary radio was more specific on the reason for his break with Pol Pot and Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. “I wanted to stay in Democratic Kampuchea, because I wanted to preserve our unity and thought it was still possible for me to express my opinion to a certain extent,” but “the dictatorial and murderous gang of Pol Pot (i.e. Sary’s current partners in the defence docket in the UN court, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan) began to openly make false accusations against me by labeling me as an agent of communist Vietnam and the Alliance (the grouping of the U.S., European and Asian countries now allied with the Phnom Penh government), as a traitor to the nation, the people and the Party” This “led me to make the decision to split forever with the dictatorial gang of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea…and found DNUM on August 15 1996…this movement stems from the profound aspirations of the cadre, combatants, and people of the liberated zone who rose in a tumultuous movement to eliminate the dictatorial and murderous gang of Pol Pot…it is a historical current no one can stop.”
So Ieng Sary left the “murderous gang” of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, and Khieu Samphan, according to his own statement read by his chief spokesman Long Narin, not because of 1.7 million people who died while all three—now in court as co defendants-- were in command together. But because he was accused of being a “Vietnamese agent” and “traitor to the Party.”
This was according to Long Narin, who this morning, in court, can’t recall the details of his relationship with Ieng Sary. The same Long Narin who helpfully hand delivered English translated copies, with his signature, to reporters at the time. The spokeseman for Ieng Sary who was later pardoned, appointed by Hun Sen to the current government, and then arrested by the same Hun Sen, still current Prime Minister of Cambodia. (who, just to complete the circle, was an officer in the Khmer Rouge army commanded by the now defendants during the same period when hundreds of thousands were killed).
All four had previously, at various times, sentenced each other to death. Then later welcomed in high ceremony into the current government. Only to be pressured to have some arrested by the international community. And of which all of the above figures contend they have had a lapse of memory of above mentioned details. Perhaps this might help jog their convenient, individually selective memories a bit.