My name is Vet Heang. I was born in Khum Thbeng, Kandal Stung district, Kandal province. I was born in 1955. During Sangkum Reastr Niyum, I lived in Khum Thbeng, Kandal Stung district, Kandal province. My father died since when I was a baby who knew how to sit. My relatives told me like this. My mother became a widow since then, and she tried so hard to earn for a living to bring us all up. When she worked too hard, she also got ill. I have 5 siblings including me, and I am the youngest. After my mother died, my four siblings brought us up-the orphans. In 1970, it was Pol Pot regime. I ran from hometown to live in Veal Sbov, Kien Svay. When Pol Pot came into Kien Svay, I moved to Phnom Penh. My mother arranged a marriage for me, but after a year, my husband died. My mother and my siblings came back to live at my hometoown in 1973. I lived with another sister. In 1975, Pol Pot came in, I moved from Phnom Penh to village. There, I lived with sister. I lived for about one year, I moved to Khum Bakou from 1975-76. My life was so hard here. At my village, it was hard for eating, but there it was hard both eating and working. Then, they separated me from my sisters by sending me to join core team. They did not allow me to come home and I was not allowed to communicate with my siblings or relatives. I lived there and was sent several times to work and never come home-I worked. One day, I came in 1976, then in 1977, one day they arranged group. Before, Yeay Seng, I and other members of our 21 people were in separated group. One day, they arranged and made us 21 people from different places. I did not know that they would send me for killing. I kept working. One day, group chief called me while I was spreading water at Tuol Tamnei, behind Vat Prasat; it was about 7 pm. He called me and I knew that I would be sent for killing because they called for the whole group of 21 people. I took along only a dress because I was too scared. I did not know what to take along. I did not even have meal because they did not allow me. They walked us to a rice-mill place at Bakou. To prevent our fight back, they asked us to lay down and they tied our hands to the back. I was so afraid because I knew that I would be killed. They accused us a lot but I did not remember those words; they accused us of being enemies. They tied us to the back and put the barbed wire through our armpits. We stood in a row and they loaded bullets into their guns. We were on truck that night. When we arrived at Sang center, we were put in prison; they locked us. In morning, they asked us to work. We worked about one or two weeks, they questioned us. They asked us what we did that they brought us here, that we ruined the organization. If we say we did not do anything, they were not satisfied. If we did not say like what they wanted, they hit us with their sticks or guns. If we say we did not ruin or betray organization, they were not satisfied, but if we say we destroyed and betrayed the revolution and involved with red or white Khmer, they agreed, wrote down our names and sent our names to the upper level. They accused my husband having big position during Lon Nol regime, but in fact, it was not.
I was born in a very poor family and being an orphan, my life was so hard. During Lon Nol regime, he worked as parachute soldier and he died at Neak Leung. But they even exaggerated that my husband had a very big position as a pilot who dropped bombs on them; that is why they hurt me so much. So, if we say good about ourselves, they did not agree; we must say bad about ourselves so that they didn’t hit us. Therefore, we must say it because we did not want to get hurt. After questioning us, they sent us to work, it was very suffering-worse than hell. We worked there, ate there and peed and defecated there; I could not breathe. Suffering! I did not want to mention about it. I could not say it anymore. (09:10) They made us walked in a row to work and if we walked in a wrong row, they hit us. If we picked up wild leaves to eat, they also hit us. We need to walk straight to work, but we could not stop for a break, kept working till it was time and they would allow us to stop. After that, they selected to form a team again and they sent me to work at Vat Korkoh, near Phnom Tamao. They chose to join core team again. I was always in that kind of group. I worked so hard. My hands and legs were seriously damaged. I dared not even use my hands to touch my face. I washed my face with wet scarf only. My hands were cut and bleeding. At Vat Korkoh, I harvested rice; I did all kinds of work upon their order. But it was so hard for our meal; the porridge without salt; no fish or any meat to eat, only porridge water. I kept working. After harvesting, there came the liberation on the 7th January.
I knew that it was the end of Pol Pot regime; so we moved to find our relatives. But there was still their group with a gun; they moved us into jungle. We were not afraid of death anymore, so we refused to go with them and told them that we would go to find our relatives, but they asked us to go with them to upper part. I don’t know which upper part they wanted to take us to. They were a bit afraid at that time too because Vietnamese entered. So, they could not take us and they escaped. We moved through the jungle to find our relatives. We kept walking though we did not know the road. We kept heading to North because we heard that our relatives were there. We did not know where was where. We walked through the jungle, but dared not walk on the road. Then, on half way, they saw us walking, they called us to go with them again, but this time it was different people. They told us that if we kept going, Vietnamese will cut our throat on the way. We were not afraid of them anymore because we thought that we were already liberated and they also escaped, so we told them we go to find our relatives and we would not go with them. They said they did not allow us to go; we must go with them to upper part, but we did not agree. We kept walking and they kept talking and following us, but they were also afraid of being caught, so they rode bicycle on the road and left and I went to my relative’s house. I was reunion with my relatives and we came to live here. I met them that time, on the 7th January 1979. I almost died several times; that time I went to Phnom Penh to get some donation for my husband’s death. They gave us incentives. I almost die many times [since 1975]. The bombs dropped, but I tried to escape. I could not move through Pochentong road because of bombs. So, I walked through Obekha-om; there was no motorbikes or any vehicles at all. Then, my brother came to pick me; he was a soldier too, but he guarded a high ranking level 5 man. He got a Jeep car; he found me; then I was on his car and my life was saved. Otherwise, I would die on the way. He could find me and I came. I was at Kraing Tey during Lon Nol regime. I lived in several places. I kept moving to a safe place to live; if not safe, I moved again till the break out in 1975. About bombs, we were so suffering. I ran a lot. Once I lived by the railroad; I ran from Kien Svay to Tuol Kork to live on the railroad in a very small cottage. I moved a lot when there were too many bombs like moving to Pochentong; too many bombs dropped near the airport, so I moved to Kraing Tey. I was at Kraing Tey till the day that Pol Pot came in 1975, then I ran back to my village. I kept running since 1970, that time was not because of bombs but Pol Pot fought into the city. They shot anywhere when they knew there was soldier base-anywhere. They did not care how many died. I got cash [for donation of my husband’s death] at DN, but then in Pol Pot regime, they did not use that money. I received donation money twice. The first time, I could made a ceremony for him, but the second time, I could not use money; I threw it away. I had not had any children yet; I lived with my older sibling.
My brother came from Phnom Penh in 1973, he came to join with Pol Pot. For me, I was called the new people, so they did not allow me and my sibling to communicate and we must not live together. They sent me to a very far place so that we could not return home. My older brother was put in old category, but I was in new category-the 17th April people. They sent me to a group at very far place, not to be with my relatives because I am newperson. They were afraid I communicated with my relatives; I was a new person—the enemy. After I arrived for one or two days, they did not separate me yet, but about a week, they arranged teams. They put me in widowed group; we lived in a cottage over there, end of the village, separately and far away. I was with Yeay Seng, and my group since then. I dared not meet my older brother, not even talked to him; I just looked at his face. Our relations were cut because of being an old and new people. So, we did’t have any more relations as brother and sister. I did farming, but I was in core team; I worked very hard. Others were better than us since they could eat better and live better; we were so suffering for eating, sleeping. We worked hard until 10-11, but we did not have any meal yet. There was also overtime work. We carried soil three cubic meters in a day for each person by their plan, but also at night; we must work at night too. When we finished the work, we could have a meal. By the time we had meal, the cooperatives were very quiet. They prepared meal for my group such as one or two tables. They gave us porridge, and they divide for each of us by cups; the porridge was full of water, hardly find rice grain or corn porridge in which corn grain was damaged by insect and very few grains in the porridge. I was hungry, so I just ate. My brother did not flee; he was there, but when the Vietnamese came in, I went to find him and we met at South Trea Troh village. He waited to take me there because he later knew that I was taken there.
I think I never did anything wrong, but they wanted separate from my relatives and kill me because I was considered a new type of person; they did not want me to have relation with my family, I think. I did not do anything wrong because I was so afraid of other people. I did what I was told to do because I was afraid of them. (20:42) I tried to work hard even if I needed to crawl so that their plan went smoothly. I was very frightened, since the time they took me to the rice-mill place and tied me up. I was scared till I did not know where my soul was; and I did not even know the directions because I was too frightened; my brain seemed to be malfunctioned, I did not know anything. I was frightened, too frightened. I did not where they took me too till I arrived there and I knew that they took me for killing. I was at the prison; I was so frightened, my soul went out of my body and I could not even cry out anymore.
There, I saw few people; they were so skinny and sick. They could not go out to work anymore. They took people for killing every single time. For young men, they took 500 of them for killing in one time, and 100 women for one time. When I was there, they just took them for killing. There were several people left. Two days later, they sent people for killing again. They took them by truck; I did not see, but I heard the sound of truck coming to the door and I heard the sound of the chains touching each other. They called the name one by one, and they did not open the door too widely for they were afraid that we would run away. There were two guards there and they called out the names of those who would be killed one by one to the car. I did not see the truck, I only heard. They did not say they would send people for killing, but they said to go ahead. I don’t know where ahead was. I was there by the time they sent people for killing once. So there were several people remained, about 100 people.
People got sick because of having no meal. The porridge was less and corn was full of insects. We found too few grains in a cup they gave to us without any salt or fermented fish. They only boiled it for us to eat. While working, I was too hungry, so I even ate the roots of water hyacinth, roots of grass, wild leaves, and many kinds of leaves. I just ate and picked the young leaves to eat. Some people also died because of unknown, poisonous leaves. I just ate because I was too hungry; before they gave me a cup of porridge. I also ate Ka-eurk vine which had young leaves. When I worked and there were roots of water hyacinth around, I cut and ate them. They did not allow us to look for something to eat far from working place, if we did, their guards would hit us. During our work, two guards watched us with one gun each. They hit us if we took a break or sit; we must work until it was time meal break, then we can stop. We stopped for a short time, and then their army ordered us to work again until 5PM that we returned back (24:55). We worked with suffering; no meal to eat; I was so hungry and tired. I hardly dug the soil because of having no energy, but I did my best because I was afraid of being killed, afraid of being hit. I worked hard; if I could not carry soil by a two-handled basket, I took half. Later on, my knees were too hurt, I only took a piece of soil like this. My knees were too loosing. My head and my knees were bad-looking. It was just like animals; I was too skinny during that regime. There, at Sang prison, we could not come out because they made a fence there at Tonle Bati and around there were canals. The south of canals was for prisoners; work site was at Wat Koh Khnol; at the north of canals lived the people. But they did not allow us to see. We lived like we were in cooperatives; we grew plants, cleared forest, water canal system. It was the same like others, but it was just so difficult-too difficult that I could not describe. When we went out to work, we made a row. In the row, one person was too hungry, and saw the rice sack nearby; he put his hand to take the rice grain. He got a bit of it to peel its skin off for eating, then the soldiers saw. They hit him with gun till the gun was broken; they hit him until all of us who did not take it felt too scared and never dare to something again. They hit him till bleeding all over his body and he was unconscious. After hitting, they tied him to the back and walked him and shouted out in order to warn others not to do like this. He was bleeding; so afraid. They shouted out to warn us all not to follow him, not to steal or pick up anything to eat. We were afraid, so we dared not; we only waited for a cup of porridge, full of water. Then when it was time for work, we went to work; we were afraid of being hit. We were patient, no matter how hungry we were. If we found roots of water hyacinth, we ate. We were too hungry, so we ate. It was about the end of 1977, [that I was arrested and sent to the prison]. I came back and stayed in my village for about one year. I was there for about one year and in 1979, it was liberation. I did not count the day and month, but [I was sent to the prison] around end of 1977.
They interrogated us. They had a small store near the river bank, fit for two or three people to sit; they interrogated us one by one. There were two of them and one of us, one by one. They questioned us; they had their weapons. If we did not talk properly, they hit us. If we said we did not do anything wrong, they also hit us. Only we said bad about ourselves even though we did not do anything wrong, we had to say it so that they would not hit us.
There at Sang Prison of Tonle Bati, there was a place surrounded by bamboos; they put a warning sign of head skull. I did not know what was inside. The fence of bamboos around and it was so wide, near Vat Koh Khnol. It was not allowed to enter; even when we walked, we were not allowed to look at it. Maybe it was a killing site because the bamboos fence was very thick with a head skull sign. I dared not to look at it because I was afraid of being killed. I did what I was ordered to do; I was afraid of them. When they sent me to Wat Korkoh, I met my brother, but I dared not to talk with him; I only looked at him and he knew that I was there at Sang Prison. I dared not to talk to him; I saw him only once. They sent me again and my brother might think I was dead because I was no longer at Sang. I was at Wat Korkoh. There, it was even stricter than Sang prison; they killed all-completely. I saw many containers full of blood. They hit and put bodies into water to make fertilizers. This was what I saw. There were a few hills and 4-10 containers to put corpses inside; they used the fertilizer to spread on hills with a kind of plant. I saw it, that was why I was so scared. Koh Khno was near Sang prison and Vat Korkoh near Phnom Tamao was even stricter than Sang. When I was there (Vat Korkoh), they selected more people-17 people to harvest because they killed all there. We harvested for a while, then it came liberty.
I saw about 4-10 containers with blood and bones. We thought among 17 of us that maybe they killed and made fertilizers because bones were there and no people there. So we were there to move the fertilizers. We did not know when we would be killed too; maybe after carrying the fertilizers or after harvesting rice, they would kill us too because there was no more people at the site of Vat Korkoh near Phnom Tamao, except only 17 of us who went there. Soldiers there were also careful; they did not walk away from us because they were afraid that we would run away. We had to ask for permission if we wanted to pee or defecate and we could not go a bit far; they had to see us. It was so difficult because I am a woman and they had to see me –so difficult. We must ask permission; we could not go anywhere freely.
They wanted to take us back after liberation, but we thought maybe Pol Pot regime finished, and people came from Phnom Penh told us to look for our relatives. And we thought that we would not go with them again, so we told them (Khmer Rouge soldiers) that we would go to find our relatives and they were also afraid, so they ran away ahead. On the half way, there was another man called us again to go with him into jungle, but we refused again, saying that we would not go with him; we would find our families. We talked like that while walking very fast because we were afraid they would catch us, but he dared not to do because he was also alone. He also ran away from our army, but just wanted us to go with him. We walked and he dared not, so he rode bicycle to the south. I did not know where he was heading to. He was riding on the road and we walked by the rice field. Then, we met with our relatives. None of my siblings died—all survived. That time, my brother was at Kraing Sva, and my two sisters were at Bakou, the other one lived at Kien Svay. My husband whom I married with in 1979, worked at the district’s commercial department. Then, he was called to work at an orphanage, and now he is retired. He retired about 10 years now. Now I do farming, after that I sell at the market. I do farming during the farming season—I sell in the morning and do farming in the afternoon time. My husband mainly does farming. [During the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, they gave us farming land depending on the number of our family members. The more members, the more farming land we got. There were only 3 members [in my family]—my child, my husband and me.