Visiting a Khmer Rouge Mass Murderer’s House in Cambodia.
Above photo: Having a moment’s reflection in Ta Mok’s house in Anlong Veng, Cambodia.
When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia recently, I visited Anlong Veng, in Oddar Meanchey Province, not far from the Thai border, to visit the house of Ta Mok, or ‘Brother Number 4’ in the Khmer Rouge hierarchy.
Nicknamed “The Butcher”, Ta Mok ruthlessly purged the Khmer Rouge army he was in charge of, and he was also believed to be responsible for directing mass murders when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 – 1979.
After the Khmer Rouge were deposed by the Vietnamese, this shitbag and other Khmer Rouge cadres were funded, supported and armed by countries such as China, who trafficked weapons and aid to them by way of the Thai military and security forces, across the Thai border.
Meanwhile, at best, the US, the UK and the rest of the world looked the other way, as the Khmer Rouge waged a war of terror across Cambodia. Pressure was also brought by the same countries to ensure the Khmer Rouge’s UN seat in New York was kept open for them, where one of Pol Pot’s friends kept it warm.
Unfortunately Ta Mok didn’t live to see ‘justice’, as he died in custody before he could face the farce of an international trial the like of which is currently dragging on in Cambodia against other old men unlikely to live to see a verdict, in ludicrously expensive and ineffective international, cobbled-together legal proceedings in Phnom Pehn.
My interest in the Khmer Rouge on this trip stems from my novel BACK, in which I catapult them into the 21st Century, when they capture a group of backpackers trekking through the jungles of the tri-border area, and then deal with them Khmer Rouge style.
I have tried to bring the horror and brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime to a new generation of readers, and on this trip I was visiting some still-existing Khmer Rouge sites, although many flimsy camps and hideouts in the eastern and border jungles have long gone.
In the dusty village of Anlong Veng, approximately 125 km from Siem Riep, and not far from the Thai-Cambodian border, we found Ta Mok’s house.
It was on a large site, and consisted of a number of wooden buildings with wonderful views over the Dangrek Mountains (which mark the border with Thailand) and extensive wetlands, which had apparently been caused when Ta Mok created a lake, which succeeded in killing all the trees, which now stand as bleached tree trunks in the water.
I was intrigued by his wall art, and noticed in a photograph I dug up on the internet that you can see some of it behind Ta Mok in this photo:
The house is a shrine where locals visit and pray, and I was even admonished for taking the below photograph of joss sticks in front of a shrine in one of the rooms. Given what the Khmer Rouge had done to monks (murdered them) and temples (destroyed them), and that they’d banned religion, I found this shrine in the house of a Khmer Rouge mass murderer to be unamusingly ironic.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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