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Phnom Penh (Ah!) - THEARY SENG featured in the film FACING GENOCIDE

Former Khmer Rouge prisoner Theary Seng is the protagonist in the film Facing Genocide - NR photo



D. J. Ken - National Radio Text Service


While sleeping with her mother four year old Theary Seng's awakened and her eyes locked on to the eyes of the Khmer Rouge soldiers as they entered the room with wet ropes and then they left. Her mother knew exactly what the wet ropes meant. When she awakened her mother was gone. At first she didn't think that was unusual since the adults left early to go to work. In this case that wasn't the reality - Red Light and Virginity Trade to be Screened at the Meta House


Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Theary Seng lived through a nightmare after she was taken away to a prison camp at the age of four with her mother and her four brothers. She recounted the experience to an overflow crowd that came to see the film "Facing Genocide" at the Meta House tonight Wednesday, May 18.

Seng recalled that while she was sleeping with her mother her eyes opened as she saw Khmer Rouge soldiers carrying wet ropes walk into the room where the family was sleeping. Her eyes locked on to the soldiers eyes and they left. Her mother knew exactly what the wet ropes meant. When she awakened her mother was gone. At first she didn't think that was unusual since the adults left early to go to work. In this case that wasn't the reality as Seng later found that the KR murdered her mother as they did her father. She and her brothers were orphans.

The film focuses on the emergence of the Khmer Rouge and one of its top two leaders under Pol Pot Kheiu Samphan. The movie shows archive footage of Samphan as a young man who was perceived as a good man turned bad and though he denies it was largely responsible for the murder of over 1.7 million people.

About two thirds of the 94 minute film is devoted to file footage of the history the KR movement and Samphan's role in the organization that intended to turn Cambodia into a self sufficient Agrarian society. In the process Samphan was the face and voice of the KR as Pol Pot stayed in the background and very few people really knew who he was.

Samphan is interviewed by Swedish filmmakers D. Aronowitsch and S. Lindberg who captured some real life behind the scenes footage of his family life and accompanies him in visits to his homes in Pailin and Phnom Penh. They followed him for two years before his arrest in 2007 in a search of his personality. The film gives an insight into his mindset and his close relationship with Pol Pot. From Samphan's actions and openness he comes off as a, "Charming grandfatherly figure," Seng noted after the screening.

The filmmakers questioned Samphan about 10-year-old KR soldiers killing other children. Samphan denied any knowledge of such actions. Samphan focused on the positive side of the KR ideals and sidestepped the truth.

Seng now a lawyer and human rights activist enters the film as the protagonist in helping victims of the KR revolution through her organization Center for Justice & Reconciliation. One scene shows a victim that claims when she was 8-years-old KR soldiers took her to a rice field and then proceeded to beat and rape her. She wants justice through the KR Tribunal which has been stonewalling victims and the current Cambodian government doesn't want cases 003 and 004 to be tried.

As the film progresses there are photos and video from the Khmer Rouge era as well as still photos of Seng with her family before her mother and father were murdered. Another photo shows an 8-year-old Seng with her brothers in 1979 after they fled to a refugee camp on the Thai border.

On separate occasions Seng later met Samphan and his wife. Both deny that the KR movement killed millions of people or were what the KR reputation depicts. When the meeting with Samphan's wife was proposed by the filmmakers Seng was reluctant at first but later agreed. Samphan's wife took more time to consent to the meeting. She came with her daughter putting Seng into an awkward some moments. Seng pursued some sort of admittance and apology for what the KR did to Cambodia people. The result was denial.

This film is a must see but it is doubtful that the masses will ever be able to view. Currently it's making the rounds at film festivals. There is no current plan to make the film available for purchase to the general public. Seng said she doesn't know anything about the film's future in being made available for public purchase. It's a shame as it is a must see film about the mysterious and still misunderstood events of the Khmer Rouge genocide of its people.


In our NR Top 10 ratings during the first quarter of 2011 show that our report on the film Red Light was popular with our readers. It's an excellent film that reveals the tragic situation in the child sex trade and an insight on why parents ell their children into the business.

This is the best film that we have seen on the subject. The problem is the like "Facing Genocide" it is not being made available for public purchase. When you see CNN banging their drum of how they're going to stamp human slavery and the trafficking of children into the sex trade you would think that these films would be made available for public purchase.

These films get it right and are being kept secret and shown only to select audiences. You would think that with public and private funding they would try to get the word out.

It's more about making films and raising money than doing something about the root cause of the problem to stamp it out. The good news is two of the best films on the sex trafficking subject Red Light and Virginity Trade will be screened at the Meta House this Friday May 20. Red Light screens at 7 PM followed by Virginity Trade at 8:30 PM.

The Meta House is located a Sothearos Boulevard # 37 Sangkat Tonle Bassic, Khan Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh.

Tel: 923-224-140 & 023 218-987

Meta House is opposite the Phnom Penh Center and Build Bright University. For more information go to: www.meta-house.com


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