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CAMBODIA NEWS - VICTIMS OF THE KHMER ROUGE - Part 3

AKRVC Theary Seng and LY Monysak as guests on Hello VOA (Phnom Penh studio, 23 June 2011) - AKRVC photo

 

 

 

 

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - (AKRVC)

Wednesday June 29, 2011

 

Mr. LY Monysak

 

When the Khmer Rouge stormed into Phnom Penh on April 17, Mr. Monysak had no idea this would be the last time he would ever see his family. Forced to abandon their home, and flee the city, Mr. Monysak lost his relatives as armed men forced them to Kampong Cham Province. Battling sickness, Mr. Monysak was taken to a local hospital while his parents were ushered to an unknown location. After a full recovery he was released from the hospital, only to discover that the Khmer Rouge had murdered all 22 members of his immediate family

 

Born to a wealthy family in Phnom Penh, Mr. LY Monysak recounts his childhood with hints of a smile growing at the corners of his mouth. For a second, it's obvious that he is being transported to a happier and much simpler time. The nostalgia, however, lasts less than a minute as he is suddenly and unexpectedly thrown back into reality. Quickly, his childlike joy vanishes behind aged, suffering eyes and a pained face. Without prompt, he emotionlessly confesses: "by the time I was nine years old, I was an orphan."

When the Khmer Rouge stormed into Phnom Penh on April 17, Mr. Monysak had no idea this would be the last time he would ever see his family. Forced to abandon their home, and flee the city, Mr. Monysak lost his relatives as armed men forced them to Kampong Cham Province. Battling sickness, Mr. Monysak was taken to a local hospital while his parents were ushered to an unknown location. After a full recovery he was released from the hospital, only to discover that the Khmer Rouge had murdered all 22 members of his immediate family in an attempt to eliminate all wealthy and educated members of society. Less than a decade old, Mr. Monysak found himself wholly alone and hopeless.

Another bout with illness came in 1977, when he was sent to a rural hospital. Upon his release a family asked to become his guardians. For the first time, he felt optimistic, lucky and safe; however, he quickly clarifies that this too was short- lived. Less than eight months later his new family was taken "for re-education" where they, too, were murdered.

Mr. Monysak struggled with loneliness and desperation until liberation in 1979 when he was moved to an orphanage. Here, he was educated until lower secondary school, then left to become a soldier at age seventeen. Today, Mr. Monysak is still a soldier; a profession, he feels, has both advantages and disadvantages. The murder of his family, and subsequent destruction of all their property and possessions has left Mr. Monysak financially-dependent on the Cambodian Military, which currently provides for his housing and food. He fears for his future: "I am getting older, and when I have to retire the government will no longer give me a place to live. I will be homeless, and will have nowhere to go."

The devastations caused by the Khmer Rouge, persuaded Mr. Monysak to file a civil party application which the Extraordinary Chambers has accepted into the Civil Parties of Orphans Class. For years he admits to suppressing his emotions, and silencing his thoughts and stories. Learning of the opportunities to come forward from CJR's radio broadcast, Mr. Monysak realized he couldn't say quiet any longer. He describes the submission of his application as a healing processes and a means of relief.

Admittedly, he says he has apprehensions as to the effectiveness of the ECCC but through helpful organizations like AKRVC, victims can try to find justice, support and a community both locally and internationally. "There is no amount of reparations that could take away my suffering, but I hope that the tribunal will be successful in swiftly finding justice for everyone, especially the 17 April people." Specifically, Monysak blames the Khmer Rouge for stymieing his chances of success saying, "My only skill is shooting a gun, and I have no means of getting an education. I am all alone and without hope." He goes on to suggest the tribunal, in collaboration with NGOs and victims support organizations, work to provide training classes so that victims can learn marketable skills and be offered psychological counseling.

For the future, Mr. Monysak hopes that through tolerant panel discussions, non-violence workshops, and an accessible trial, there will be hope for the next generation where the anger that spurred the Khmer Rouge will have no place to flourish.

At the encouragement of the Victims Association and taken cue from Ms. OUM Suphany, Mr. Monysak has tried expressing his sentiments on paper in a poem, his first.

Mr. Monysak has been profiled in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, the award-winning feature length film Facing Genocide, among countless other interviews. He has been an active member of the Victims Association from the very beginning, attending many public forums and conferences conducted by the Center for Social Development, Center for Justice and Reconciliation and now CIVICUS Cambodia.

VICTIMS OF THE KHMER ROUGE - Part 1 - Mr. CHEY Theara

VICTIMS OF THE KHMER ROUGE - Part 2 - Ms. OUM Suphany

The Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia—the first association based in Cambodia to be registered with the Ministry of Interior and the first to be recognized by the ECCC Victims Support Section and independent of any political or religious affiliation—is a network of survivors of the 1975-79 killing fields who are joined in the fellowship of suffering, in the demand for justice, and in the work for a just peace. The members of the Victims Association are from overseas and spread across the provinces and capital of Cambodia, coming together as a result of the public forums conducted by its Founder, and now its president Ms. Theary C. SENG and Victims Outreach Manager Mr. SOK Leang since 2007. They include widows and orphans; former child soldiers and former prisoners; hard-working farmers and middle-class city-dwellers; well-known actresses playwrights, authors and journalists; as well as teachers, translators, security guards, taxi drivers, inter alia. Among the other members of the Victims Association is the Civil Parties of Orphans Class, a special grouping pre-dating the AKRVC founding when introduced officially in the Pre-Trial Chamber hearing of Nuon Chea in Feb. 2008, and since officially recognized by the ECCC Victims Support Section and a party to the Extraordinary Chambers Case File No. 002 against the senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

www.akrvictims.org

© Copyright: National Radio. Any use of these materials, whole or in part, is prohibited unless authorized in writing by National Radio. Contact: nationalradio@yahoo.com All rights reserved.

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