Ly Chhun Leng-Combatant, Division 920

Interview with his sister, An Chhun Y, age 60 Kang Meas District, Kampong Cham Province

When the war came, Chhun Leng stopped studying and lived at our farm for a little while to help my family. The Lon Nol soldiers came to collect him
in 1970; if he hadn’t gone, they would have arrested him. But after 15 days, he ran away to the forest to become a Pol Pot soldier. He wanted to bring Sihanouk back.

My parents didn’t want him to be a soldier, but he had already escaped to the forest when they learned about this. Chhun Leng thought that if he stayed in the village he would be killed.

No one could sleep in our village after 1971. They dropped bombs for seven days and seven night, and destroyed my house. When they dropped the bombs, I ran to the graves or the canal. Eventually, I went to live near the canal and built myself a small cottage there.

Chhun Leng visited home for a night in 1975 after the liberation. There were two bodyguards with him; they came by car and were carrying guns. While he was visiting, my parents told him to quit the Khmer Rouge, but he wouldn’t.

They tried to persuade him to come home, but he said that if he stayed home, his only job would be carrying earth.
He didn’t want anyone in the village to control him, so he decided to stay with the Khmer Rouge.

The second time Chhun Leng came home he told me he had become the chief of a division in Mondul Kiri province. He said it was difficult living in the forest because he had to escape from the bombing and a lot of mosquitoes bit him.
He also gave me advice, saying that if they told me to work,
I had to work hard or they would kill me. Then he went back to Mondul Kiri.

A woman named Sieng who worked with him told me that they arrested him around 1978. Her husband was also arrested like my brother. I think they were killed together. They told my brother they were sending him to a meeting, but they were lying. Then they killed him after accusing him of being CIA and in the Vietnamese network.

But later, the fortunetellers told me that my brother was still alive and living on the Thai border. I went there three years ago, but couldn’t find him. They cheated me out of 60,000 riel.

Even though my brother had a high rank,
I did not have enough food to eat and I worked hard. I had to, or they would have
killed me. In fact, they accused me of being a high- class person and a social imperialist, and the Khmer Rouge asked the villagers about my biography many times after Chhun Leng disappeared. I did not dare argue with them.

We could never take a bath, and could drink only from the stream, but people also used the stream as a toilet. One day, the Khmer Rouge said that the rice I transplanted had died. They told me that if I continued to work like this,

they would send me to O Tra Kuon in Kang Meas district. It’s about two kilometers from the village where I lived during the Khmer Rouge. If you go there, you can see the skulls. Later, they realized that I hadn’t transplanted the rice, so I was ok. One of my sisters had high class; she lived in Phnom Penh and was a new person. She was sent from Phnom Penh to live at my house and was made to carry earth. She was arrested in 1977.
They also killed another member of my family. He climbed a coconut and the Khmer Rouge hit him until he died. The Khmer Rouge beat my husband Chhorn; he was the village chief. They hit him with a piece of wood, but he didn’t die.

Ly Chhun Leng’s undated biography states that he was born in 1947 and was married to a woman named Dy who was also a soldier. It also noted that one of his sisters was connected with the enemy.

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