Bizarre Spin on Tortured Confessions of Australian Khmer Rouge Victims.
Above Photo: Looking out from a balcony still covered in barbed wire at Tuol Sleng Prison, Phnom Penh.
While doing some BACK-related research, I came across a really misleading piece on theaustralian.com website (see link below), which discussed two Australians who were interrogated and murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Tuol Sleng torture centre in Cambodia.
I then read similar comments on another Australian blog (no doubt repeating the newspaper’s editorial tone) that both David Lloyd Scott and Ronald Dean, who had been tortured and beaten into signing pathetic and untrue confessions in the most disgusting circumstances, had somehow “thumbed their noses at” their captors and that the confessions were “pisstakes”, and that by supplying them, they had “unfortunately…signed their own death warrants.”
Describing these confessions as some kind of private joke which ended up with the unintended consequences of having these men killed is totally wrong and disrespectful to the suffering these men would have endured, and displays a lack of understanding of what the Khmer Rouge were doing in Tuol Sleng (or S-21), under the sadistic rule of Comrade Duch.
Portraying these confessions as defiance or “pisstakes” is just wrong.
The purpose of torture in Tuol Sleng was to extract confessions implicating others: networks of spies, conspirators, the CIA, KGB, the Vietnamese, all of whom the Khmer Rouge believed were trying to ‘undermine’ their crackpot State.
The Khmer Rouge were so paranoid about their miserable and failing Chinese-backed experiment in genocide and mass-enslavement, that they needed to produce enemies where none really existed. And to do that, they brutally tortured people, Cambodians, Westerners, Americans, Aussies, Vietnamese; anyone who was processed through the camp, until they got what they were after. Truth was irrelevant in the torture process, and they didn’t stop until they had a confession.
Like other Western victims, David Lloyd Scott and Ronald Dean had fallen into the Khmer Rouge’s hands by allegedly sailing into Cambodian waters in the Gulf of Thailand in 1978. After that they were offloaded, probably in Sihanoukville, and taken by road to Phnom Penh, where they were incarcerated in Tuol Sleng for interrogation and prolonged torture.
An indication of the severity of the prison and lack of respect for prisoners can be seen in the courtyard of Tuol Sleng today, where ten (translated) rules which inmates had to abide by have been put up on a sign. These include:
- You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
- Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
- Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
- You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
- Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
- While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
- If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
- If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
Former guards at Tuol Sleng say up to 30,000 people passed through the torture centre before the fall of Phnom Penh in 1979.
Only a handful survived.
So when these Australian men confessed that old friends of theirs were CIA operatives and they’d been recruited into the CIA by stupidly named people like Mr Magoo, in exotic locations like Prague, or one of their old Colleges in Western Australia was a CIA training farm for “active probationary CIA agents”, these weren’t jokes; it wasn’t “black humour” or “pisstakes”.
They were outpourings of anything that came to mind as the terrified victims were brutally tortured in Tuol Sleng. They had to give their interrogators something – anything; and in the absence of anything concrete to confess to, under the weight of torture, people simply made things up.
The victims’ suffering shouldn’t be trivialized, even today.
Not that the unfortunate victims knew it, but after they’d confessed, they were to be murdered like so many thousands of others who’d passed through the prison.
Hopefully, one day all Khmer Rouge murderers will be brought to justice, right across Cambodia, not just a few OAPs thrown to the wolves, who’ll all probably die of old age before a verdict anyway.
Sadly I doubt this will ever happen, but all of their victims deserve it.
See the full article in the Australian here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/intrepid-larrikins-defied-pol-pots-killers/story-e6frg6n6-1225761788100
For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War, POWs/MIAs and Adventure Backpackers trekking into the war-ravaged jungles of Asia, see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/
For POWs left behind in Laos, see:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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