News / Asia

    Former Khmer Rouge Prisoners Sell Story of Their Lives

    Say Mony

    The United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia has ordered the Khmer Rouge’s main jailer to spend the rest of his life in prison for crimes it says were “among the worst in recorded history.”

    The tribunal said Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch oversaw a “factory of death” in the 1970’s at the feared Tuol Sleng Prison, where an estimated 14,000 people died.

    The prison itself, called “S-21” by the Khmer Rouge, is now a museum.

    One of two former inmates, Bou Meng sits outside the Tuol Sleng Museum selling copies of his biography, "A Survivor From Khmer Rouge Prison S-21". He makes $70 to $80 per day. On a lucky day, he can earn up to $200 to $300.

    “If I sell [the book] at $10 a copy, they give me $20. They say I can keep the change. They wave their hand like this and say ‘You can keep the change.’ I thank them by holding their hands and kiss them, to mean that it is these hands that work to buy my books and give me a livelihood,” Bou Meng said.

    Bou Meng endured severe torture at Tuol Sleng so it is hard for him to return there every day.

    “Whenever I enter this place, I get really tense, but I have to earn some money, to feed my family, because I’m inadequately supported by the state," he explained. "So I have to come here to sell my books.”

    Huy Vannak wrote the book.

    “I wrote Mr. Bou Meng’s story in hopes of making his life meaningful, and to help him in various ways, both financially and mentally,” he explained.  He is now a public affairs officer for the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

    Canadian tourist Claude Brale bought a copy after touring the museum and talking to Bou Meng.

    “I saw a lot of depth in his face and his eyes," he said. "And from there I wanted to read more about his story.”

    Khmer Rouge prison survivor, Chum Mey, sells books and magazines
    Khmer Rouge prison survivor, Chum Mey, sells books and magazines
    In another corner of the museum grounds, survivor Chum Mey sells books about the Khmer Rouge and magazines about his survival.  He and Bou Meng are both critical of the U.N.-backed tribunal.

    “As you know, ever since it started, the court has never provided anything to the victims. There were only three [Tuol Sleng] survivors, and now that Mr. Van Nath has died, there are just two left," noted Chum Mey. "Still there has been no results whatsoever for victims.”

    “Why I’m not at the court? Why does the court not pity the two remaining survivors who are sitting selling books to feed our stomachs? Why does it pity only the accused so much? What court is it! I’m so disappointed,” Bou Meng said.

    “The court doesn’t distinguish which victims are more important, whether prisoners of Tuol Sleng or other prisons. [Victims] can participate in the trial process directly or indirectly. The court always welcomes direct participation but we don’t think there should be special treatment for any party,” Huy Vannak added.

    Visitors to Tuol Sleng say that by buying books from the prison’s survivors, they hope they can help in some way.

    “I hope he gets some satisfaction from being able to tell his story," tourist Adam Marris said. "And perhaps make the world a better place.”


    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora