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October 13, 2018

Written by : Vong Serey Vatanak


Since I was born , I have not seen my grandfather's face

Horrible stories were told about how cruel the Khmer Rouge regime was , but not many survivors from the regime wanted to recall because it causes tear to drop and pain to reoccur. 

Khmer Rouge regime started over 3 years from 1975 until 1979 . To Cambodian people, 3 years 8 months and 20 days was recorded in their mind permanently. When you talked to a Khmer Rouge survivor about that length of the time, they understand it very clearly. Over one third of the population was killed cruelly. 

The regime was targeting the then government and the people who lived with wealth, the educated and the elites. They were hunted down and most of them were named 1975 people. The first group from the city was  to be targeted and executed. The second group was the countryside governors , officials from rural communities. My mother who was around 16 years old was on the list of the second group. Fortunately, the second group could have been demolished if the regime had not been stopped in time. 

Those were not likely to be targeted were peasants, uneducated, and the low class people. Yet , they were still selected to be executed, or even cruelly tortured if found lazy and doing nothing. 

It was around 1977 . My grandfather was working hard on the farm when he decided to go to catch fish to supplement to the provided daily food,  after his whole day of hard work . This is one of the main reasons that people died. They worked so hard, but received little food from the regime. He and his friend were caught fishing and not working in that evening. They both were accused of being lazy and not working. One of them was cruelly executed and it was not my grandfather. Yet , the torture of my grandfather was so cruel that he was almost dead right after his release. 

He could not walk back to his village because of the injury from the torture. Someone spotted him on the road and brought him on an ox cart. He was dropped in a temple where informal and inexperienced doctors were based . My grandmother and mother recalled that they were allowed to come and visit my sick and injured grandfather in very short time. The visit was not allowed to be that enough. That was the last time they saw him. ( sighed). My mom also recalled that natural leaves were cut to boiled as medicine to cure the sick and the injured from the battle field. 

The regime separated family members especially those who can work (useful) and those who can't work (useless ,).  Since the last visit, my grandma and everyone could not see his hopeless eyes. It was not until 8 months later that my grandmother and my mother found that my grandpa died from the cruel torture. They were told that he died just  7 days later after they last visited him at the temple. 

In panic , and brokenness, my grandmother and my mother together with all my uncles and aunties rushed to the grave yard to find him. They dug through every tombs, with sweat, sadness, and silent pain.  Every excavation was in vain. . After 100 excavation of the bodies, the 100th attempt led them find him. They knew it was him because they recognized the scarf and the mattress which belonged to the family. In tear, they only saw the skull, and the remains of my grandfather

If he were to live now , my grandfather would be 83 because my grandmother is now 82. 

So, if I were to try to find out why my grandfather died, it was because he risked his life to go fishing to feed my grandmother, and his beloved children. 

Did we see how he love his family so much that he did not even care about his life? This reminds me of who I know , his name is Jesus who sacrificed on the cross for my sin, and everyone of us. People from my dad generation still lives in trauma, pains, and hatred. They need forgiveness and healing. The cure from those can be found in the Love of God , Jesus . 

Love you guys, Thanks for taking time to read this story. 


October 13, 2018