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KLVH-CSOKHOM Interview Part 2

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Moderator: Did you have any girlfriends in school? Uh, that's, that's, maybe too personal... but, uh, yes, I had some, girlfriends at school. Moderator: In like Junior High? Moderator: High School? Sokhom: Was in Junior High. In High School and... Yeah. Moderator: So for high school, you had to change schools? Moderator: Or is it... It's not the same school? Uh, its not the same school. Cause, okay. After I finish primary school, I, pass examination and went to that, secondary school. And, I, uh... was in that school for only... uh, I believe, like two years. Yeah. Two years. And then 1970 came. You know. As the war came, in 1970. The big war, so. The war came, and then, the Khmer Rouge, came from the jungles and, you know, uh, they attacked the army posts. In the village and all that. And then they occupied. But, be... Before they, occupied that, I, you know, the school, because they know the emergency, so they close the school. The secondary school where I attended. So, uh, all the students, would have to, be transferred to provincial to a school in the provincial town. So, and it, it maybe, just about, and then I left. I left the home, uh village. Um... My, all my brothers and sisters, they were, there in the village. Okay, because they still, they were still in primary school. And, um, Moderator: So, you... Sokhom: I don't know what other reason why they stayed there. Well, at that time, my mom, was not in the home town, either. She was in the provincial town. After knowing, after knowing, that my dad died. During the war. In the attack. Maybe just, a couple of months earlier. So my mom went to Phnom Penh. To capitol city. To a... draw some pension, from the government. You know, because she is the, the wife of a, people in the army. So she, after, you know, husband died, the wife will get some pension for, for that. So my mom went to capitol city, get some pension, and she just stayed, a few days in a provincial town. While all of this happening. The Khmer Rouge, came, one night to attack the, the, the village, and then they occupied. I already left, see. My mother left first. For you know, to, to, to get the uh, the money from the government. Okay? And then she happened to stay in the provincial town, for a couple of days, after she came back from Phnom Penh. And I came later. Because, well my mom told me, the uh, get out there, to come. Okay? And then she would get my brothers and sisters later. Knowing that I was the, the first one to that need that school in the provincial town. You see? So all this happened that we, did not know. That the Khmer Rouge was, in, you know, was in, in a hurry to attack. And occupy the village. That's the thing. Moderator: So wait, I'm confused. Moderator: Um, Moderator: Your mom, when, Moderator: the Khmer Rouge took over, Moderator: your mom was Moderator: um, in the, Moderator: she was not in her hometown village? Moderator: Not in your hometown village? Okay. Yeah, when, all right, when, uh, the Khmer Rouge took over that town, Sokhom: that village. Moderator: That town? Right that, our village, our home village. Moderator: Your dad had already died? Sokhom: Right. Moderator: Okay. Sokhom: My, my dad died, a couple of months earlier. Moderator: Okay. Sokhom: in a different place. She would, he, he was in, a different place. Moderator: And you were away at school? I was uh, uh, before that attack happened, I happened to move from that. From the home town. From the home village to the provincial town. Moderator: Okay. Sokhom: Yeah, to, continue my studies there. Moderator: So is that where your mom Moderator: went to go get pensions or whatever? Right, my mom came earlier, Moderator: Okay. Sokhom: Yeah, came earlier then like, you know, she made trip right? Its not like fast here, in, like in America. It took like what? 2...3 days, to get to capitol city, or something like that. Okay, she get, and after, it tooks her maybe, you know, several more days, or a week, to, to draw that pension. Money. Okay? And then after she got there, she came back to provincial town. The provincial town, uh, the provincial town, from, from my home town, to the, the provincial town, is about 28 kilometers. It pretty close. So, my mom just happened to get back from, Phnom Penh. And she st...stayed, in provincial town, just, couple days, she, she she had some, uh, relatives there too. So she stayed, there for a couple days. And then, you know, during this time, that the Khmer Rouge, came to attack there. And they occupied, and then they, they, took all, my brothers and sisters and grandparents and aunts and uncles to the jungle. Moderator: So... Moderator: can we back up a little bit? Moderator: Um, um... Moderator: what was the feeling like in Moderator: Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge took over? Moderator: I mean, did you feel like something was coming or, Moderator: was it kind of a surprise? Uh, well, it was not, the, was not really a surprise. And, but, it, its kind of mixed feeling, you know, You're not sure what, what, was to come. But you kind of have this, feeling that, oh it may come, but, you know. Um... 1970 is the start of the war. You know? Start of the war, where, when they, deposed the, the king, of, of the uh, the chief of state. He was the chief of state. He was not a king at that time. So he was the chief of state. The prince. So when they deposed the prince, because the, Viet Cong, and North Vietnamese, uh, army, you know, spilled over into Cambodia. So Cambodia was like, a side show, you know from Vietnam War. So, Cambodia was like a side war, a minor thing. But when it the Vietnamese uh, communists, spilled over into Cambodia, territory... people, the Republican, people, you know, they, did not trust the prince anymore. So they depose him. And then, the war started. You know? The Khmer Rouge, only has some small army. You know? They already had some small army. So they start the war and yeah, they fight. Moderator: So at that time, what did you know Moderator: about all of this? Moderator: I mean, did, were they telling you something at school? Moderator: about the Khmer Rouge or? Moderator: Did you just know from like Moderator: what people were saying in the city? Moderator: Or? Sokhom: Um.... I know from the the um... everywhere I mean actually from the radios from newspapers from, uh, people talking. But not from a teacher. The teacher don't uh, Sokhom: the teacher don't tell... Moderator: Don't ever tell about about it? They never, talk about it. Because those Khmer Rouge leaders were teachers so... They was, you know, they were, uh, high school teachers, you know. So... um... that how we learn. Moderator: So.... Moderator: was there like a day, that, Moderator: there's a certain specific day when you Moderator: knew that the Khmer Rouge had taken over? Yeah, um... Moderator: Do you remember that day? What, what day exactly was it? 17... A New Year's Day, I believe. Yeah. It was the New Year's Day. 17th of April. 1975. Yeah. Moderator: What was that day like for you? It was... still....I...I...I didn't know... you know, I didn't know, what, what... what eventually come, you know. Uh, on the one hand, I feel like, it was, a joy, after all these war. From 1970 to 1975. You know? All these 5 years, you could hear, you could hear a lot of a, bombings and... gun fire and all that. every day. People die everyday. Okay? And suddenly, this group here... uh, the Khmer Rouge, we did not know, their ideology and we did not know, what they were really about. You know? But they preach to the people okay, you know? We are for the people. We did the revolution for the people. The poor people. You know? So they, uh, uh, spread this, uh, you know, sweet talk to peoples and a lot of people believe that. Because you know, they said that, there would be no, uh, rich people who exploit you, you know? No rich people abuse you. And we all equal. And... Yeah. They did this revolution for the people. So a lot of people believe in a lot of this during the liberation day on that 17th of April. A lot of people, were joyful, you know. They shouting. They singing. Of course its the, happened in the New Year's also. So it's like, the, the army, who, fought them earlier, you know? So like, they join hands. They shout. They cheer and they singing together just like brothers and sisters. It was a very good feeling. So sometime, well, a lot of time, I forgot about or, I never, really, know that there was a venom, you know, or or something, sinister, you know inside all that, uh, you know, behind all that uh, sweetness and and joy. Moderator: So... Moderator: I mean... Moderator: that, how old, how old were you in 1975? 1975... Um... How old was I? Uh... 19? Yeah, I think so, 19. Moderator: So... I was 19 years old. Moderator: So... Moderator: Um... Moderator: Your, your dad, Moderator: when did you find out that your dad died? 1970. Moderator: Uh, 1970? Sokhom: He, yeah, he was a... stationed in a province uh bordering Vietnam. In the East of Cambodia. Okay? And one night, the Vietcong uh, the Khmer Rouge, we didn't know for sure, who, which army that came to uh, fight, his post. That came to attack his post. So... they attacked his post and you know, they, killed all of em. You know. Maybe just, a few just, I believe there was like, a... three or four, guys, three or four soldiers, survive at that time. And, my father, did not survive. Moderator: Do your..... Sokhom: So.... And then my mom, uh, heard that, news that, his post, got attacked. So she went to, a, capitol city, Phnom Penh, to ask his friend about that. Yeah. And then his friend told all about it. You know, some, some days later, after the attack. One of the survivors, told her, and then she came back home with a, terrible news that my father died. During that time. Moderator: How, how did you, Moderator: respond to your dad... Sokhom: Well, you know, it was sadness. We were crying and I could not sleep that night. Cause it's like, like if, its, its more like, hanging in the balance. We don't know what's going on, you know, what's to expect, how you know, the uncertainty of, life, its just, hang over, you know. Uh... cause the war started, and, we lost, our dads and, and we're not sure, bout our future. Moderator: Kay, so... Moderator: you are 19, Moderator: and that's when the Khmer Rouge took over? Moderator: And you were separated from Moderator: you're not with your mom Moderator and your... Sokhom: No... Moderator: brothers and sisters? Moderator: Um... Sokhom: I came to a, another, uh, province in the West, Northwest of Cambodia. To continue my high school studies. Moderator: So, while the Khmer Rouge had taken over, Moderator: you just.... Sokhom: Yeah, at the time, when the Khmer Rouge took over. Moderator: Kay, so.... Moderator: how, um... Moderator: when did you find out that Moderator: your, your whole family was, Moderator: um, taken to, Moderator: the labor camps, or whatever? Uh, at the time, I did not know. Because, 1975 came. The Khmer Rouge, took over, the whole country. And then, they, uh, uh, uh, tell people, okay, they, they tell people to go up to the labor camp. Everywhere in the country. Okay? Moderator: why weren't you told? They evacuate entire city. And, I was just among other people that, who, who, was trying to figure out to to find, a place to go. So... I was in Battambang, that's the province that I stayed at the time. And... I wanted to come back, home to the uh, uh, to my hometown. Uh... but I just walk in about, I walk bout couple miles. And then the Khmer Rouge on the road, they told, me to go, to stop where I was going. So just, get off the road to go to work with other people. in that town, in that village. Moderator: So... Moderator: what, you...were you taken to Moderator: a labor camp? Moderator: or? Sokhom: Yeah. They, they, tell people to everybody to go to a labor camp. Moderator: Kay. Sokhom: Yeah. Moderator: So you went to a labor camp? Sokhom: Yeah. Moderator: What was... Moderator: was that like? It was hard. It was the... difficult. All those, you know, in the, in Cambodia, and the Khmer Rouge, there places, that, were like hell. And there are places that are you know, a little better. So... You know. I consider the place where I stayed, was, uh, a little better than, you know, other places. Um... But still... you know, they force you to, work hard and, work on a field. Moderator: What would you do? Moderator: Just pull out rice and stuff? Yeah. So I was not married. You know, they put all the single people uh, all the guys, uh, in one big group. Maybe... 500 of us, okay? And, of course, the, the big group, is divided into sub groups and all that, you know? And the girls, all the single girls, in one big group also. And they have their leader and subdivided into sub groups also.

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Khmer Legacies
Director: Socheata Poeuv
Views: 90
Posted by: khmer legacies on Feb 17, 2009

Part two of six of an interview with a Cambodian genocide survivor. Carrollton, TX. 1-/22/07

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