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And they didn't. And, my third old..oldest sister, would tell us now, that she said, she had, you know, she had good things to eat, she had nice clothes to wear, and she had, had, the treatment. was, was nothing to complain about. Moderator: So do you know why she was chosen to Moderator: I guess, create this new... Moderator: pure race? I don't know why, I don't know why, Maybe, she look, small Cambodian than my other sisters because there were two of them, so there are five girls, right? So, the two oldest sister, was supposed to be the widows, right? So they stayed at home, with mom in the village. And the next two, they're pretty close to each other, they were the teenagers. And then, there was me, the little girl. Well, these two, were Bopha, the one with the night blindness, she looks very Chinese, you know her skin is fair, I have no idea. I'm thinking, that this is the reason, why they did that. I, but, honestly, I don't know. It could be a very arbitrary thing, I have no idea. Moderator: So, this Chana... Moderator: was taken, um, Moderator: and then, was she forced to... mate? Moderator: or something? Not, yet.... I think, Moderator: She was being prepared? I think, so. But Chana and Bopha, are very, too individual, and I listen to their story, I'm just so amazed. Bopha, was more like me. Stern and not giving in. She'll do what's necessary. But, she's not playing the game. Because, she doesn't want to. Because, she, she knows, deep, deep, down in her heart, that these people, are mean, unethical, and cruel. Chana, would tell us, these really funny, stories. She, had to live, I mean, her life was actually, not bad, because, she said that what she did was she would, do makeups, you know, for the young, the people that were in charge, Moderator: They'd do their makeup? Well, you know, pluck their eyebrows, and... Moderator: Groom them? Bophanny: And clean their nails. Grooming them. You know because... And she would tell them funny stories. And when they sing, these great washing song, she would be the loudest one. You know, she said, "Oh, yeah I know, I'm rotten, lying and faking it." You know, she said it. Now, she's like "Yeah, they, they thought I was one of them." So. she got better treatment. So, she would tell us really, funny stories. She's like, "Oh yeah, they're really, you know, these people are really, some of them, some of them, are very ignorant." She, and, and oh, she would and she, uh, she has this, this gift, my sister, Chana, of storytelling. And you know, she watch a lot of movies, before the war. She would tell em these stories, movies, you know, and they loved those. And, so, she get really good treatment. Moderator: I never heard of this before.... Moderator: this is really fascinating... Moderator: Do you.... Bophanny: Yes Moderator: Do you know what this group was called? Moderator: Or, what, what do Khmer people call this? I think, the, give me a minute...I have to say it in Khmer. Umm... The Red team? Something red. Something, red. I don't know it as a fact, but, as I'm watching tv and learning about these things... I really believe that, those were the group that they were going to... Umm, Moderator: Start a new? start a new, you know, that you heard of the new, year zero, right? You have to start with somebody, and you saw the masquerade, that they were making, right before the invasion. And they were going to eliminate, all the "impure" people like the, half-breeds like me. Or people, with...that wear sunglasses, a sign of intellectual, that, the, were not you are. to go to kill. And, I really, I don't I don't it as a fact, but, I think, that those were the team, that they was going to keep and breed them, grow a new race. Moderator: And did, do you know, where they put her? Moderator: Was it one central place where they brought these people? Or... They, the, the camp all camps have always been separated by gender. So, for example, in my camp, was only little girls. There is no little boys. Little boys are in separate camp. And you're not allowed to mix. And she said, that the same with her. That she knew, of the, the, the, the the camp, that were, were guys. But, they're not allowed to mix. But, occasionally, they would have, events, I don't know, where they allowed you to mix. But, she, um, she didn't, well at least for those 2 or 3 years, that she was away from us, she did say that, that you know, she didn't receive the same treatment, that we did. And, she had enough to eat. And, she was healthy. Moderator: And how did she get this idea that... Moderator: maybe, they were going, they wanted, to use her? Bophanny: I don't think she realized that at the time. Moderator: Did she hear that or... I don't think any of us knew that. Moderator: But it's just bizarre that she got such different treatment. Bophanny: But, yeah, but we knew about this team, the special team, cause rumors, you know, people were talking right? And there was a rumor. And, they, handpicked you. And I don't know why they pick a certain person. Only thing, I can think of right now is that, because she's darker than than, my old, oldest sister I don't know. Moderator: Mmm. And so, she wasn't, um, made to do the work that... No, she get to stay, you know, in the camp. And she, maybe, she does housekeeping, a little bit for them. But, um, she, she had, an okay life. But she ran into trouble when, the whole time she was faking it. They really trusted her. They really believed her. And, back at the village, at Capri, you know, where my mom was living, the village leader's little daughter, had the same age as my sister, Chana, was also at this camp. They decided, that they're going to run away. You know, like I did. The problem was, they had no idea, where they were. Or how to, you know, get to, back to Capri. Because, they were this special team. They had different outfits, than we do. Cause, we had to wear, I remember, our, our clothes were, you know, um just sort of grayish, cotton. Um, and you can tell, if someone is really important. I remember, some, some things now. You can tell if someone is really important, by the way they dress also. The more important people, had really, just pure black. You know, their dye is stronger, and its newer. Its crisp, crispier. And they had, I think the "kamaa" you know, the Cambodian scarf, its, its, of a different type. Well, none of us were allowed, or had access to those kind of things. But my sister did. So, they were the special team. You know. My sister, had Chana, had learned all along, take, take notes, of all these things. In the meanwhile, faking it, that she's, you know, totally gungho about their ideas, and what they're doing. And they trusted her. And, then, she, got this other girl, who is the daughter of the village leader, of, Capri, Capri, um, to run away with her. To go back home. Because she was afraid, that they would never be able to come back home. And be reu... reunited with the family. They knew that something was up. But they didn't know what it was. So, knowing, that they had this clothing, they kept it. And they decided to play along, like they were, part of the "Angka" team. Who had to travel, um, along the villages. Uh, collecting reports of... I don't know what their lies were. I bet they told a lot of lies. But people trusted them, because of their clothing. And, so, she would go from one village, and ask them enough information, to get back to Capri. And she did. But, also, they came to the village, to my mother's house, and I only knew this, afterward, when my mother told me. They came to the house already, and told my mother, that they're expecting, these two young ladies, And as soon as they get there, they need to report them to the government. And again, my mother was all, you know, "Oh my god." "What are they gonna do to her?" Cause, they knew these girls been running. And, so she, the, these girls, had, had and along the way... My sister, told me, that she would lie to different, village, villagers or you know, village leaders. And because of the way they dressed, you know, cause of their outfit I told you about, they, they got away with a lot of things. And they were treated well. Because, they were "supposedly" you know, someone from the higher ups. Right? But then they got to the village, and as soon as they got to the village, because the village leader, the village leader's daughter, was with my sister, there was a huge incentive, from the village leader, to hide both girls. So, my mother said that, that was, an elaborate plan of hiding the girls, as they were coming to look for the girls. And they all denied it that, nobody showed up. They lied, you know, to the people that came to collect them. To the Khmer Rouge. And, I guess they believed them. I don't know what happened. Or maybe, because, of the village leader, he was, you know, he spoke really strong, and you know, he was like known. And we would never do this. I think, it was just our family, they wouldn't believe us. And so, they left. And, then they, didn't come back for those girls. Bophanny: And so they.... Moderator: How were the girls hidden? I think, my mother said, from house to house. They had to be, hidden for a long while. They couldn't really go out. And my sister got lucky, because the village leader was hiding his daughter also. So, he had to hide my, otherwise, you know, His daughter would have to be returned as well. Bophanny: So, she got lucky. Moderator: And did you... Moderator: Did they know what would happen to them if they were caught? I can only imagine. I don't think, it would've been light. Moderator: So what happened to them after they left the, Capri? They, well, they stayed with us. And, they evacuated the hole. Later on, when there was, they said, there, there was no food to feed the, the people anymore. And, so, they brought back, brought me back, and my brother back, from the separate camp, back to the village. Because the whole village now is supposed to move. To, another village. Really close to Thai border. And that was, Labek. And I don't know why they did that, I don't believe that there wasn't enough food, because we were always growing rice. And, I remember seeing, these, you know, how they keep rice in, in the countryside? This sort of like, big warehouse, and they just, dumped rice in. I mean, there were just, lots of those. I don't know, I think, it's a political reason. But, I don't know what it was. So again, we were, moving, On the road. So they took us to Labek. And we had to live there. But, as soon as we got there.... Again, the separation of, family members. I had to go to children camp. My sisters had to go to different camp. And then we're all separated again. And, of course, I, I'm not allowed, I wasn't allowed, to come home. And I think, by then, I had become, more and more frail. And gotten, more and more sick. And the reason why I remember this, because, one time, I was sooo sick, that, they got sick of me. The, you know, the, the leaders. The camp leaders. They didn't want to take care of me. They had called my sister up. And Chana, came, and showed up one day, and she had brought with her, all kinds of goodies to eat. Like dried fish, and rice. Maybe some banana. I don't know. And I remember, I thought, I died and gone to heaven, cause I haven't seen my sister I hadn't had anything to eat for so long, and, I remember having really strange dreams, but now, I'm thinking, that it wasn't a dream. I think, I was hallucinating. I remember, before I, woke up and saw my sister sitting next to me, I remember, feeling, hot, cold, hot, cold, And, I remember, seeing, it was, it was such a strange experience, it, I couldn't forget it, because I never had anything like that, I'd never experienced, anything like that, in my life. But, I, and I don't know if it was hallucination, I mean, cause I'm, but, I'm thinking that's probably what it is. I remember, laying there, laying there, and the ceiling was far... it just, recedes. You know, it goes, far, far, far, away. and then, all of a sudden, it was coming back down. I'm like, "Oh my God." "I'm gonna get crushed." You know. It was like that. Which, things was really skewed. And the spatial, was really weird. You know. And then I woke up. And, then, my sister said, that I had really, really, high fever. Chana, said "You've been having lots of fever." And, she couldn't stay very long. Because, again, they only gave her permission for, I think, maybe one day and a night. Or something like that. To stay with me. And, so I stayed at this camp, And I had wanted to go home again. But, I wasn't allowed. And then, one day, I remember, still, feeling, really sick and I hadn't worked, because I just didn't have the energy. Being left alone. You know, at the camp. Everyday, you go to get out of the camp, you go to the country, and you go to the fields, and you work, and you come back. So, I would be alone in camp, while everybody's going to work, And I was really sick. And, I remember, one day, at about, I think, it must've been, in the evening. I heard bombing! This is a sound, that I'm very familiar with. And, for the first time of my life, I felt joy. Moderator: Even though you didn't know what that was? Bophanny: I did not know what was happening. But I thought, somebody, is trying to fight. Somebody. And that's a good thing for me. And, I, remember, just feeling, pretty much, by then, pretty hopeless. And I had been, I had a lot of time to myself. Cause, I was so sick, and I wasn't working, to think about what I want, and what I wanna do. And I remember, that, there was, no way out. This is it. And, its a really, sad feeling. And, when I heard the bombs, it was like, "Oh my God." It was the greatest thing. I remember, even as a small child, I knew that, that was not a life, that I wanted. But, I just didn't know how to get out of it. And, I remember... The little things I remember, before the invasion of the Khmer Rouge, in 1975. I remember, wanting a bicycle. And I wanted a bicycle. And I wanted a pencil. And I wanted, some paper, to write. But none of that was allowed. You're not allowed to speak. You're not allowed to write. Education, was forbidden. The more ignorant you are, the better off, you'll be. And, I remember, that, I would never in my life. People to read and write. And I knew I'd miss that. Because there was no school. And I had grown, older, and older. It just feeling, really hopeless. Moderator: So, can you, uh, step back a little bit Moderator: were conditions at Labek any better than at Capri was? No. And in fact, I didn't get to stay, with my family very long at all. It was almost, immediate. As soon as we unpack. Off, I had to go. And, I had no idea, where they send my other brothers and sisters. And they also, had no idea. Where I was at. I mean, they knew, to some kind of a, another, concentration, you know, Moderator: Mmmhmm. Moderator: Throughout this whole time, were there a lot of people dying around you? Yes. There again, you know that, memory that I, that I described to you.. Of feeling, sort of like in this movie, while, I'm sitting still, and everybody is mov...moving around me. There were always people talking around me, Bout someone that died. Someone has been "taken" away. or requested by Angka, by the government. And, everybody know what that means. So, people, would, just, disappear. Oh, and then I forgot to tell you. Now, I remember. When we were in Capri. I still had my, one, of my older brothers, with us. Every night, my m...mother, would, tell us, this is when I, get that permission, to come home, she'd tell us, she says, "You know, its just," "getting unbearable." Because, they said, they were, they suspected, that, we were lying, about our background. Who we were. And, every night, there's a meeting, at every camp, just like I said. You know, in my camp, I had to work during the day. At night when we come back, we eat, and then we go to the meetings, and meetings and chant, and what not. The adults had to do pretty much the same. Except, my mother said that, in her meeting, they would put you in a circle, and "Angka," would walk behind you, and he or she, would say, "We know, among us, there is an enemy." "Someone who is pretending." "Disguise. And...but, we want to give the opportunity," "for the people, you know," "for, for them to come forth," "and confess whatever." And you can imagine, how scary, it, must have been for my mother. Every night, hearing this. Knowing that, any day, any time, we would be discovered, and we would all be, killed. My older brother, couldn't stand, this type of treatment. And he, again, you know, feeling, like my oldest brother, saying, "People, cannot do this to you." "You have rights." You know, he keep saying, that we have rights, But, we didn't. And, he, my mother, I, I know this now, Because, my mother was telling us. This story. He, told my mother, that he cannot live like this. It is, he just can't. He said, "Mom, I'm going to try to run away." Even though, we were not that close to the Thai border. This is back in Capri. He, knew that we were close enough. Because, there had been, I think, maybe, other people, who had left. But, we, but, I, don't think, he knew, whether they made it or not. But, he did, tell, tell my mother, that he, he and a group of his friends, are going to try, to escape. So, one morning, we woke up, and a group of men, including my brother, disappeared. Gone. When we were, forward a little bit, to nine...sometime after the Vietnamese invasion, when we were at the border. We actually met, one of the men, that were in my brother's group. He, course, we asked, "What happened?" "Do you know what happened to our brother?" He said, that when they were walking along the border, at some points, someone discovered them. And I think the Khmer Rouge, found out that there were people were trying to, make it through the border. They were shooting. As soon as the shooting broke out, the group dispersed. And you don't look back. You run. And he said, that, by the time, he stopped, he was in Thailand, in some village. And he was alone. He had no idea, what happened, to the other men.

Video Details

Duration: 19 minutes and 30 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Khmer Legacies
Director: Socheata Poeuv
Views: 75
Posted by: khmer legacies on Apr 30, 2010

Part three of seven.

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