Interview With Sopheak

Sopheak (pseudonym) discusses her experiences under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

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Sopheak was a farmer in Bakrong, Cambodia, while her husband sold vegetables. Their lives were disrupted when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, and they were instructed by the head of their collective to flee. They moved to Preah Tayea Village, but were left homeless and had to shelter themselves under trees. The regime then relocated them to Knorr village, where they again had no home. They were then moved again to Prey Veng, having to make the journey on foot, where they had to sleep under the open sky. As she had given birth to her daughter a mere 3 months earlier, she was not assigned to work. Her husband was tasked to transport rice to various collective kitchens. Buddhism was outlawed, monks were defrocked, and special occasions such as New Year’s Day were not celebrated.

    Eventually, she was also required to rejoin the workforce, planting rice in the fields. Having barely recovered from her pregnancy, she was often unable to meet the daily work targets set for laborers by the regime, and was accused of laziness. She worked 12 hour shifts from 6am to 6pm, with meal breaks at 1130am and 530pm. Each laborer was only given a spoonful of porridge, and she suffered from chronic hunger. However, she notes that each collective had 3 rice banks with plenty of supplies, and is unsure why civilians had to endure starvation. Some kitchen heads allowed workers to supplement their meals with what they foraged in the fields, while others did not.

    Her job also required her to leave her 3 children in state-run care facilities. Her two older children, aged 3 and 5, were left in child nursing centers for the duration of the workday, as they were too young to attend school. Her infant daughter was tended to by an elderly nanny at a different center. Though Sopheak was uncertain whether her children were being fed, she inferred from their healthy complexions that they were eating properly. Her primary concern at the end of each workday was to rush to the nursing center to breastfeed her daughter.

    In 1977, her family was evacuated by ship to Battambang one night. The ship nearly capsized due to a hole allowing water to seep in, which was mended in time. This move disconnected her from her parents, whom she was unable to contact or trace until the regime fell. By this time, her husband had become ill and unable to work. In Battambang, she noticed that Khmer Rouge agents often took people away to be killed at night. She recounts many personal experiences of seeing individuals well and healthy in the day, only to never be seen again after night came. Surviving residents were told that the disappeared colleagues had been moved to build rice banks in other collectives. Her own brother, then aged 20, had been transporting rice to various collectives, and never returned from his deployment.

    Sopheak remained in Battambang until Vietnamese forces liberated the area in 1979. She claims that she and her peers were dangerously close to being executed by the regime, if the Vietnamese had arrived a mere 2 days later. When her collective was attacked, the Khmer Rouge attempted to force residents to flee with them, but she was instructed to go to Svay Rieng. They now had more access to food, and slowly walked to their destinations, resting and eating whenever they needed. The former Khmer Rouge members however, dared not return to their home villages.

    After the regime was toppled, Buddhism was restored in Cambodia. Sopheak now regularly visits the pagoda to make offerings and commemorate the spirits of those who lost their lives under the regime, especially her brother. She views her fate of having had to live through the regime as the consequences of her own karma, and does not seek revenge against her former oppressors. The only justice she seeks is the right to live with her family without anyone being killed. She hopes that future generations of Cambodians continue to learn about this dark chapter of their country’s history before the generation that lived through it fades away, to ensure that such a regime never returns. For her part, she has passed her recollections to her children through bedtime stories, and is keen to join in the May 20 Day of Remembrance commemorations if invited.

Mrs. Sopheak, Svay Rieng


Q: How long have you been in this village?

A: Before the Khmer Rouge came, I lived in Bakrong actually. However, I moved to live here after the Khmer Rouge regime. 

Q: What do you do to earn a living? A: I am a farmer. I plant rice. It is the only job I have. I don’t have any job while my children go out to earn a living. I have ten children, a big family. Only the youngest child is single, while the rest are married. Some have received proper education. Q: What was your job before the Khmer Rouge regime? A: I was a farmer. My husband was a vegetable seller at the time. 

Q: Do you remember what happened before the Khmer Rouge came to power? A: I remember that I was told to go far away, and that Vietnamese soldiers were coming. I heard the sound of gunshots. Q: Who told you to go away? The Vietnamese soldiers? A: No. The cooperative head told me to do so. 

Q: Can you please tell me a bit more? What did the cooperative head tell you? A: He said, if we heard the sound of gunshots, we needed to leave our place along with the other people. 

Q: So where did you go then? A: I went to Preah Tayea village, which is close to my current place. I left my house with nothing except my newborn baby girl. Now, she stays at that house near me. We did not have a proper house to live in. We stayed behind the palm trees. There were also many people from Bavet who came to this place too. We were together with thousands of people. When we heard gunshots, we moved further. At Knorr village, we settled there for around a week, then we moved again. 

Q: Is that what happened in 1975? A: Yes, it is. Q: What did the soldiers tell you? A: No, the soldiers did not waste time talking to us. They had their own tasks. We just got instructions from the cooperative head. The cooperative head was the one who managed and controlled us. They were responsible for food and the collective meals for hundreds of families. 

Q: So, that means that Khmer Rouge soldiers had taken control of your place even before 17 April? A: Yes, exactly. They came even before they arrived in Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge forced us to do hard labor, like planting rice in many hectares of land. The Khmer Rouge kept moving us from place to place. I was not pushed as hard as the others since I had just given birth to my child around 3 months prior.  My daughter was sent to dig the pond. She had to work hard and was forced to move to other places to labor until the Vietnamese soldiers came. Q: Where were you forced to move to? A: Knor village. In that village, we slept under huge trees for months because there were no houses. I had three children. The village is not far from here. I was not tasked to do any work because of having just delivered a baby. After that, we were evacuated to Prey Veng province. At night, we slept under the open sky. My husband carried the goods including milled rice (5 milk cans) to cook meals for a day. Behind us, a cow cart carried food. We couldn’t escape, and had to make sure that we remained with the group. There were many people, so we may have gotten lost. We kept walking for long distances. Q: How many days of walking? A: I do not remember that. I had just given birth to my child. I was weak, so I often stopped to rest before moving further. I had meals in the collective dinner hall, which hosted around 50 or 60 people. However, this number varied Then we got a house that hosted 3 or 4 families, while the cooperative head was responsible for our food. After nearly a year, I was forced to move to another place. My husband did not plant rice, but was tasked to transport rice for the cooperative. He used ox carts to transport rice and fermented fish for cooperative, while I planted rice. 

Q: Was there any work targets stipulated by the Khmer Rouge? A: Yes, of course. Like in rice planting, usually we were tasked to remove 20 bunches of seedlings, but I did only 8 or 12 bunches. Q: Were you blamed?

A: Yes, I was blamed for being a lazy person. I told them that I really could not meet the target set. I could not do it even if they killed me. The Khmer Rouge shouted at me. I couldn’t do anything, and just tried hard to live my life. 

Q: Were you forced to do construction work such as making ditches?

A: No, I was not. I just planted rice in the rice field, around 10km from our place. We walked in a very big crowd. I had to arrive at the rice field and start work at 6 am. 

Q: Really? A: Yes. The Khmer Rouge did not care about our newborn daughter at all. They did not care about who took care of her. Q: So, who took care your newborn daughter? A:  At 5 in the morning, I had to bring my daughter to the child nursing center, where a grandmother looked after around 30 – 40 infants; while kids were taken care of at different centers. The caregiving and meals were so terrible. I just left my infant daughter with the grandmother nanny and immediately moved to the rice field. At the nursing centers, there were a lot of hammocks carrying kids. 

Q: Did you send only your infant daughter there? A: No, I put all my three children, including the infant daughter, at centers. My 5-year-old and 3-year-old children were looked after by a nanny who took care of around 50 kids, while my infant daughter was taken care of by a different nanny in a different center. At 5 or 6 pm, I finished work in the rice field and went to fetch my children home. My children almost received no food at the nursing centers, only water. It was in Prey Veng province.

Q: Did you get sick under the Khmer Rouge? A: Yes, I got sick. 

Q: Did you receive proper medical treatment? A: There was no pharmaceutical medicine to treat patients at all. I received only traditional medicine made from tree roots. Somehow, it worked. I got better. When I got sick, I was allowed to have a morning or afternoon break or even a whole day off, and I took herbal medicine. There was a kind of healthcare center with medics. During evacuation, the medics were forced to leave their homes too. 

Q: How about your family? Did you live with them?

A: Under the Khmer Rouge, I was allowed to live with my husband and children for a year. However, I was separated from my parents and siblings. During the evacuation, my parents were forced to leave home, for where? I did not know. I lost all their information. We could only meet one another when the liberation army took over the province. We really couldn’t find them except by asking people to track them. We didn’t want to ask them.   

Q: Have you ever been tortured?

A: No, I was not. However, I got blamed sometimes when I arrived at the rice field late.

Q: How was the food?

A: I did not have enough food to eat, just a spoon of porridge. 

Q: How many meals are provided per day?

A: We were provided only lunch and dinner. We were required to arrive at the rice field at 6 in the morning. Mostly, lunch was served at 11:30, while dinner was served around 5:30 pm.

Q: After Prey Veng, where were you evacuated? A: After Prey Veng province, I was evacuated to Leak Loeung by ship. The final destination was Pusat or Battambang provinces. I was on the ship for hours, from 8pm. There were many ships carrying thousands of people. At the time, I did not know the where the ship was heading to. At 11 at night, water came into the ship and luckily someone saw it and yelled loudly. A man fixed the problem. We passengers were saved. A man closed the hole because many passengers yelled out loud. I could not identify the direction of the ship, but finally it arrived Battambang. In Battambang, I was settled into a collective of 50 people, going up to 100 people as happened in Prey Veng. Q: When was it? A: Maybe, it was in 1977. 

Q: Who was with you?

A: My three children and my husband. My siblings, parents and I were separated across different places. We lost all contact and information. However, luckily, I met them after the Vietnamese soldiers came. Therefore, under the Khmer Rouge, I lived with my 3 children and husband. 

Q: How was the situation in Battambang? A: The situation in Battambang was similar to Prey Veng. I was forced to plant rice day and night. I ate insufficient food, which was porridge. Meals were like what I had had in Prey Veng province. 

Q: Did you witness any killings in Battambang? A: Many people were killed in Battambang. Every night, people were killed. You know, in the day, I saw people and their siblings at their house, but at night they disappeared. I did not know what had happened. However, I assumed that they were taken away to be killed. Usually, the Khmer Rouge killed people at night. They told people that the victims were given new jobs. They did not talk about the killings at all. Q: In Battambang, you were newcomers again. Were you scared? A: Yes, of course. I lived in fear every day, you know. I really could not sleep well because I could eat only a spoon of porridge. However, I just tried to live my life and survive. You know before the liberation day, the Khmer Rouge took away several people to be killed, for around 5 consecutive days. Each night, they brought people to be killed from 6pm to 4 am. They told us that those people were sent to build rice banks at other regions because the Vietnamese were approaching. The villagers at the other place did not have enough rice. They brought all the men away to be killed over 5 nights. After the Vietnamese came, things were quiet. People were sent in crowds to be killed. Q: How was your husband’s situation? A: My husband was lucky. He often got sick and could hardly do any work. 

Q: How long had you been living in Battambang? A: Around 1 year. I had not had enough food to eat, but had to do difficult work planting rice. My life in Battambang was as miserable as in Prey Veng. I got insufficient food and had to work regularly and punctually.   

Q: Have you ever witnessed people being taken away for killing? A: Yes, of course. I witnessed groups of people taken away for killings. It was around 6 pm. I clearly saw a big group of people being taken away to be killed from night to early morning. I did not see the moment they were killed. However, I assumed that those people were to be killed. Q: What did you feel when you saw that? A: I was shaking with fear. I did not think that that many people were being sent to build rice banks. It was impossible. A layman from Svay Chrum pagoda disappeared. I did not see him for two days, and we all knew that he had been killed. He was in the same collective as me. His responsibility at the time was carrying water and cooking rice. We lost him. I am sure that group of men were escorted to be killed. No one returned. They were all killed.

Q: How about religion at the time? A: No religion at all. All monks were disrobed.

Q: How about the ceremonies? A: No new year. No ceremonies. No religious practice. We only did work. If you were tasked to dig a ditch, you just did your work. There was neither holidays nor free time. 

Q: Did you ever think of New Year’s Day? A: No, I did not think of it at all. What often came to my mind was hunger. I was so hungry. I thought if I had any rice to eat, I should cherish eating it.

Q: In 1979, were you still in Battambang? A: Yes, I was in Battambang until the liberation day.

Q: Do you remember what happened on liberation day? A: The Khmer Rouge tried to force us to go with them. Actually, they tried to tell us to get ready to go with them. However, I had no time. Vietnamese soldiers came. It is a great fortune that Vietnamese soldiers came. Our lives would have been so hard if they had not come.

Q: So, the Khmer Rouge wanted people to go with them? A: Yes, that is right. Many men were sent to be killed. I did not believe that they were sent to make rice banks, because building rice banks did not require that many people. 

Q: Do you know where they were killed? A: I heard that they were killed at a mountain, but I have no idea what the name of mountain is.

Q: Maybe, Sam Pov Mountain?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Can you describe what happened next? A: After the Vietnamese soldiers came, my family and I came back to Svay Rieng. We just walked. It took us months to make it to Svay Rieng. Some people paid Vietnamese soldiers in gold, to be driven to where they wanted to go. For me, I did not have any gold. I had nothing except three children and a husband. So, we just kept moving. My husband carried some basic goods which could sustain us. I carried my children while walking. On the way, we stopped to cook food and had meals whenever we were hungry. We could eat enough food, you know. We relaxed when we were tired. 

Q: How about Khmer Rouge soldiers? What happened to them? A: The Khmer Rouge dispersed. They had left. Only ordinary people were left in the villages. I did not see any confrontations or shooting at all. However, I heard firing sounds. 

Q: Did you meet Vietnamese soldiers? A: Yes, I did. They told me to go back to Svay Rieng. They spoke Vietnamese and I understood it. We had already prepared everything when the Khmer Rouge told us to do so. So, we were ready to leave our place. So, when Vietnamese came, we moved little by little. The local people who originally lived there took some goods and resources from the collective. 

Q: Did you face any difficulty on the way back to Svay Rieng? A: It was not that difficult actually. We walked home. At night, we slept anywhere. We had food and basic stuff to continue our lives. I always carry a 5-liter water can. I saw it on the street, and I took it. 

Q: How did you feel when the Vietnamese came? A: Actually, at the time I was very scared when we were told to prepare to leave the place. I thought that we would be killed. An old woman who lived with me in the collective told me that we could not do anything. Let destiny work its way. We could not escape at all. 

Q: Had you thought of resisting? A: Not at all. I was so exhausted. Why? We could eat only a spoon of porridge per meal. That was the only hope to live on.

Q: How did the Khmer Rouge members’ meals look like? A: They ate differently and separately. I ate at a collective dining hall with many people.

Q: Have you ever seen them having meals? A: Never. During mealtimes, people made a line to get a spoon of porridge from a designated person and we just ate it. While having meals, my thoughts were about my children. I needed to go to the daycare center to breastfeed my children as quickly as possible. I had no time to eat leisurely. However, I believe that they had good meals indeed because their complexion and physical appearance looked healthy. They were fleshy. 

Q: Did the kitchen head have the power to kill? A: No. He was only responsible for preparing food for us. 

Q: Talking about tradition and culture, how did that look like? A: Nothing at all. No religious practice was allowed at all. Buddhist monks were defrocked. 

Q: How about schools? A: There was no school at all. However, my children were too young to go to school. Anyway, after work in the rice field, I always spent my time taking care of my infant. Therefore, I did not have time to learn about the outside environment.

Q: Now, when reminded of the Khmer Rouge, how do you feel? A: Yes, I feel very pained, but I couldn’t do anything at the time. In our collective, there was much milled rice, but the Khmer Rouge did not allow us to eat enough food. They took the rice to another place. 

Q: Do you think you are lucky to survive the regime?

A: Yes, I think I am very lucky. You know, at the time, if the Vietnamese had come two days later, we would have all been killed. The Khmer Rouge told us to get prepared to leave. I wondered why they told us to get prepared and where they wanted us to go. We had left our hometown with nothing, and I wondered why they wanted us to move further. You know if the Vietnamese came two days later, all of us would have been killed. To this day, I am still scared and shocked. I didn’t think I would survive you know. It is still in my mind. 

Q: How do you deal with that feeling? A: I just keep myself busy, doing many things and going to places. 

Q: Have you ever dreamt of your life under Khmer Rouge? A: No. 

Q: After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, did you go to the pagoda? A: Some time after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, I went to the pagoda and felt so happy. I felt as though I was reborn. At the pagoda, I prayed to Lord Buddha, offered alms and food to Buddhist monks in the hope that this dedication would go to my relatives who were killed under the Khmer Rouge. Now, I usually ride my bike to Svay, Por Thom, Bakrong and Porthireach pagodas to pray and dedicate it to my relatives. Q: Did you lose family members under the Khmer Rouge? A: Yes, I lost my younger brother. He was responsible for transportation under the Khmer Rouge. He was tasked to transport milled rice to some places, and never returned. When we asked the collective head, he said that my brother was tasked to transport milled rice. He was still on duty. However, he never returned. Q: When was that? A: It was 3 months before of liberation day that my younger brother disappeared. We have never seen him at all since that time. Some people said he transported the rice to others. He was single and 20 years old. 

Q: Do you ever recall him? A: Yes, I remember him. I do pity him. He was killed while living in hunger. 

Q: After liberation in 1979, what hope did you have? A: Actually, I did not expect to survive the regime. If liberation had been delayed two days, I would have been killed. However, I had a chance to survive and meet my siblings and relatives, and move on. I felt as if I was reborn. 

Q: Have you ever told Khmer Rouge stories to your children? A: Yes, I often tell them stories. I tell them “You are so fortunate that you were born in better circumstances. I was born in a regime which almost took my life. I had almost nothing to eat. I was skinny. Only my mind was alive, my body was almost dead”. Usually, I tell them stories before bedtime. Q: Do they believe the stories you tell? A: Yes, they do believe it. They ask me questions like why I survived. I told them that I just tried to live my life as others did. Q: What do you feel when you tell them that story? A: I feel a bit relieved when I tell them my life story under the Khmer Rouge. 

Q: Have you ever been interviewed about the Khmer Rouge regime? A: Never ever. This is my very first time being interviewed on the Khmer Rouge regime.

Q: Anyway, have you ever participated in 20 May Remembrance Day events? A: Never ever. I have never been invited to participate. If I were invited, I will join. 

Q: What is your religion? A: Under the Khmer Rouge, there was no pagoda at all. Pagodas were converted into kitchens, collective dining halls and ammunition warehouses. Anyways, I am a Buddhist. 

Q: Do you believe in karma? A: Yes, I do. I believe that experiencing the Khmer Rouge regime was the result of karma. Everything is karma. I took it that I suffered during the Khmer Rouge as a result of my karma. 

Q: Do you have any anger against former Khmer Rouge members? A: I do, as a human being, but I cannot do anything against them. 

Q: How do you calm your anger? A: I just try to forget about it. However, I cannot forget about it. You know, I always think of my younger brother who was killed by the Khmer Rouge. He always in my thoughts, like he is riding an ox cart carrying milled rice to other places, including collective kitchens. I am still angry. When it comes to the Khmer Rouge, I was always fearful. I remember my younger brother and miss him so much. I wondered why the Khmer Rouge killed him. He worked every day, delivering milled rice to collectives. I also remember the time that I overheard the footsteps of people who were taken away for killing. For consecutive 5 days, so many people were killed. I don’t who were those people. You know, I heard the sound of their footsteps when they walked in a group. In my collective, I did not see as many people coming to get porridge as before. They killed innocent people. I was forced to work all the time. 

Q: Have you ever thought of escaping the regime? A: Of course, I really wanted to escape from the regime, but I really could not. 

Q: I heard that the 3+ years under the Khmer Rouge regime was like 30 years. Does it resonate with you? A: Yes, it is true. The night seemed so long to me. At night, I was very hungry. My thoughts were only about hunger. Surviving a day was like surviving a year. 

Q: Have you ever picked any fruits to eat due to hunger? A: No, I dared not do that at all. And the kitchen was locked. You know, if you dared to steal a handful of rice, you will end up being beaten by the kitchen head. Q: How many people managed the kitchen? A: There were 3 people actually: 2 men and 1 woman. The men were in their forties and the woman in her thirties. One man was responsible for taking care of the rice. The other man was responsible for cooking and the woman was responsible for washing up. The one who cooked the food was the one who did not allow us to steal any food. Never have I stolen any food. I saw a man who caught stealing rice by the kitchen head. He was extremely tired and tried to grab the rice to eat. However, the man stopped him immediately. You know, just eating uncooked rice at the time was very delicious to me. It was tasty and sweet. It was like eating Ambok. Some men were forced to work in the rice field. They were so tired, they wanted to eat uncooked rice. You can imagine how tired they were. They got up early at 5 to work. They were hungry, so they went to see if there were leftovers in the kitchen. I could not find any leftovers but rice. Uncooked rice was very tasty to us. It was as enjoyable as sugar. 

Q: Where was the rice stored? A: Rice was stored in large rice banks. In a collective, there were up to three rice banks. However, we never had enough food to eat. I did not know where the rice went. There was plenty of rice, you know. I saw there were at least 10 ox carts carrying rice from my collective’s rice bank. It was said that the rice was used to supply collectives that did not have enough rice. It was kind of loaning the rice. When our collective lacked rice, we could go get it from other collectives. However, in our collective, we always ate insufficient rice. There was a lack of rice, and a milk can of rice was used for 4 people, not 2 like before. I had nothing to eat, except porridge.

Q: Was there any party or celebration? A: Not at all. I was given only a spoon of porridge per meal. We could not do anything against them. We could not resist. They controlled us. Q: Do you know about female working brigades? A: Female working brigades were usually tasked to make ditches. They were not allowed to work with older women at all. They were young and had a different kitchen and dining hall. Some kitchen heads were kind. They allowed us to eat vegetables we found with the rice. Some did not allow this. They would snatch it from us and throw it away. I had a lot of male relatives who were tasked to build ditches. They carried soil. After the regime, one of them now works in a cruise ship. At the time, life was desperate. He had nothing to eat. I really pitied him, so I brought him some cassava, but he couldn’t eat it. Q: Did this happen in Battambang province? A: No. It was in Svay Rieng province, before the evacuation actually. Talking about Battambang, my younger brother was evacuated with my mother and from then we were separated. We lost all contact within our family. We were sent to Battambang separately, based on the collective we belonged to. I belonged to Bakrong collective while my brother belonged to Kampul. After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, he settled in Phnom Penh where he now works on a cruise ship. His life is much better. I lost one younger brother. We have never heard from him at all. Were he alive, he would have come home to meet our parents. All we can do is to religiously dedicate and remember him.

Q: What do you feel when you think of Buddhism to calm your anger? A: Yes, Buddhism does help me calm my anger. 

Q: Do you believe in Lord Buddha’s teaching “hatred is finished by no-hatred”? A: Yes, I do believe in it. If someone does harm to us, you should not harm them back at all. 

Q: Do you want justice? A: Yes, of course. By wanting justice, I mean I just want to live harmoniously with my family. Without anyone getting hurt or killed. 

Q: Have you ever thought that a genocidal regime could reoccur?

A: I don’t think such a regime will occur again in the future.  I really don’t want to see such a regime – a killing regime coming back again. It killed people. 

Q: When talking about the Khmer Rouge, are you scared? A: Yes, I am still scared and shocked. I remember all that had happened at the time. It reminds me of my younger brother who was killed. I wonder why he was killed. Q: Are you scared to tell your story about life under the Khmer Rouge? A: No, I am not. I am glad to share my story with others. I was just scared to recall the hardship and suffering of that time. 

Q: Have you ever participated in 20 May of Remembrance Day events? A: Never ever. I am not aware of this Remembrance Day at all. Usually, I stay at home alone. My son is home today because he has come to study a weekend class, and another son just came from Phnom Penh to visit me.  He is a tuk-tuk driver in Phnom Penh. Q: Regarding the Khmer Rouge, do you want the next generation to learn about it? A: Yes, I do want them to study Khmer Rouge history, but I really do not want it to happen in Cambodia again. Over time, old people continuously leave this world, you know. If the next generation does not study this history, they will be ignorant of this. They will not know what happened and how Khmer Rouge regime was like. 

Q: How do you remember your younger brother who was killed by the Khmer Rouge? A: Usually, I think of him and pray for his soul to be at peace. On Pchum Ben day, our extended family, across more than 30 small families get together at a family stupa to remember and dedicate prayeras to him and other deceased persons. The remembrance ritual is presided over by a Buddhist monk. 

Interviewer: Soeung Bunly

Interviewee: Sopheak

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Transcript Notes


  1. Consider how Sopheak’s experience of the Khmer Rouge regime was shaped by her experience of motherhood.

  2. How does Sopheak’s testimony illustrate the presence of regional and local variations in Cambodian civilians’ experiences of exploitation by the Khmer Rouge regime? What are its implications for the study of the Cold War in Cambodia and Asia more broadly?

  3. Consider how the experience of repeated, forced relocations shaped Sopheak’s experiences of the Cold War.

  4. Assess the role of religion in Cambodian society during and after the Cold War, and how it shapes survivors’ memories of the civil war.