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Horrors at Khmer Rouge Airport

Katie Beiter / Khmer Time Share:

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – A transport technician for the Khmer Rouge yesterday told the Tribunal that the regime valued construction materials more than human lives. 

Chan Man was describing conditions at the construction site of an airport in Kampong Chhnang province, which began in early 1976 but was never completed.

He estimated that only 10 percent of the workers survived. “Construction materials and equipment were more important than human lives,” Mr. Chan Man said.

Most deaths were from overwork, exhaustion, malaria, and suicide. Some workers jumped in front of road rollers to be crushed to death, he said.

Mr. Chan also told the tribunal that he still recalled hearing people scream at night, followed by the stench of decomposing bodies. Usually the screams lasted for three to four minutes, he said.“I did not know when my day would come.”  
 
Mr. Chan joined the Khmer Rouge when he was 14, working first as a messenger. He was sent to Sihanoukville after the fall of Phnom Penh to assist in delivery of aid from China. He said he also accompanied Chinese engineers to the airport construction site. Most of the workers there were former soldiers from the Eastern Zone who were being “refashioned” because they were considered to have betrayed the revolution, Mr. Chan said.  

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