This article illustrates that Ponchaud's account of the deportation of the population of Phnom Penh is the same as Barron and Paul's account, the same as the account that so outraged Chomsky, though Chomsky and Herman lead the reader to believe the two accounts were very different.Francois Ponchaud Cambodia: Year Zero, p.23-28, english language translation: Chapter two:
On April 23, I was on duty as interpreter at the embassy gates. A Khmer Rouge official whose job was to locate foreigners informed me that ten French people had been found thirteen kilometers to the north and had to be brought back. This gave me an opportunity to get out of Phnom Penh six days after the revolutionaries' victory. The inner suburbs on Highway 5, leading north to the Thai border, were totally deserted. Not a soul in the Russey Keo district or around Kilometer 6, which had been heavily overpopulated before. A few homes were charred remains, the doors of others had been smashed in, the lanes were heaped with litter; a few Khmer Rouge were searching for recalcitrant linggerers, and dogs and swine were nosing about for food. Beginning at Kilometer 9 the houses were no longer completely empty but their inhabitants had made preparations for imminent departure. Between Kilometer 10 and Kilcmeter 13, the farthest I went from the city, there were hundreds of thousands of people blanketing the paddies, camping along the roadside or in the ruins of villages leveled by the war. No doubt there had never been such a crowd at the market of Prek Phneuv, twelve kilometers outside Phnom Penh. Our car could only creep through the dense human mass, and I recognized several friends, both Khmer and Chinese. They looked as though disaster had struck, and they made covert signs of recognition, glancing fearfully at the guards sitting beside me. The accounts of many Khmers who lived through the deportation from Phnom Penh are filled with the same anguish. I personally saw no dead bodies either in Phnom Penh or outside the town, But the deportees were haunted by visions of death.
One group of women in charge of an orphanage were told to go north. When they reached Vietnam in November 1975 they recounted the nightmare they had lived through:
About three on the afternoon of April 17 we were ordered to leave the orphanage immediately. Young soldiers aimed their guns at us, telling us to hurry. In our haste we left the house almost empty-handed, even forgetting to take any rice, pots and pans,. or fish. After a few hundred yards we could go no farther. It was a stupefying sight, a human flood pouring out of the city, some people pushing their cars, others their overladen motorcycles or bicycles overflowing with bundles, and others behind little homemade carts. Most were on foot, like us, and heavily laden. The sun was fierce but we were so dazed we hardly minded it. Children were crying, some were lost and searching vainly for their parents. The worst part of the whole march was the stopping and starting: there was such a crowd that we cduld never go forward more than a few yards at a time before we had to stop again. Sometimes the Khmer Rouge fired into the air to scare us and make us go faster. We nearly died of fright when there was a burst of machine gun fire just beside us.After several days on the road these women reached Prek Kdam, about thirty kilometers from Phnom Penh, where the Khmer Rouge put them on board a launch that took them another fifteen kilometers to the north.
By evening that day we had reached Kilometer 4, in Russey Keo, and slept in an abandoned house. We begged a little rice because the children's stomachs and our own were crying famine. The people on the road with us were kind and helped each other out. The next morning at dawn shots were fired and we got back on the road in a hurry. The crowd was as dense as ever. When we got to Kilometer 5 we were very frightened by the sight of several corpses lying by the roadside. Their hands were tied behind their backs and nobody dared go near them. People were saying they were the leaders of the former government, but we didn't know them So we could iot say if it was true. A little farther on, ten more bodies were lying in front of the door outside the Pepsi-Cola factory the Khmer Rouge said they were soldiers, traitors. People were allowed, to take as much Pepsi-Cola as they wanted, but we were too afraid of the dead men to go any closer. At Kilometer 6 the crowd surged into the Catholic Relief depot [an American charity] to take things. The Khmer Rouge let everyone take as much as he could carry: "They were imperialist goods and so they should be used to serve the People. We took rice, pots, and mats, which were precious to us afterward
That night we were still not very far from Phnom Penh. We had only gone a few kilometers, and very slowly, because the road was so full of people. That slow pace was more exhausting than a quick march would have been. That night our bed was the dusty earth and our roof the sky. The next clay, near Kilometer 10, we were terrified: there were several corpses in military uniform lying in the road, but the Khmer Rouge trucks had driven back and forth over them and flattened them completely. All you could see was the shape of their bodies. We were terribly disturbed by that sight.
Suon Phal, nineteen years old, escaped to Thailand on May 4, 1976; this is his account
I was in my last year at the Boeung Kak lycée in Phnom Penh. My family and I left the city and took the road to Prek Phneuv. Along the way I saw Khmer Rouge soldiers waiting in groups of three or four searched people and took their watches, radios, glasses, gold, and precious stones. Some even took 500-riel bills and threw them in the air, saying "The revolutionary Angkar has put an end to money." We had great difficulty making any headway because of the enormous crowd leaving town and also because some Khmer Rouge kept firing shots to scare us. Many people died on that march: the hospital patients who had been driven out, the women who gave birth on the road, the war casualties. We reached Vat Kak on April 25; along the way we saw many dead bodies scattered about everywhere-even in the pagodas -and the stench that came from them was almost unbearable.
Sam Suon, a twenty~six-year-old employee of the national import-export company, escaped to Thailand in July 1975 and is now in France. He tells what happened on the southern side of town:
The Khmer Rouge shepherded the deportees quietly along, without too much brutality. However, the food problem began that very first evening of April 17 The answer to every request for food was always the same: "Ask the Angkar!". People heard it so often that they started asking, "But who is the Angkar?" The Khmer Rouge answered, "It's every one of you! You must figure out for yourselves how to find some~ thing to eat. At that, several people lost all hope. Kong Sam Oeun, a very famous film star in Cambodia, was crying with rage; all he had left was one suit of clothes and his Mercedes! Some people tried to argue with the Khmer Rouge-a druggist, in particular. The Khmer Rouge cut off his head right in front of me and left the body lying in the road. Nobody dared to touch it for fear of reprisals. Many students who had shown dissatisfaction had thew hands tied behind their backs and disappeared, taken away by the Khmer Rouge.
On the morning of the eighteenth the Khmer Rouge announced that everyone could go back to the village where he was born; a great many of the refugees set off for Neak Luong, secretly hoping to cross into Vietnam. Others turned back to Phnom Penh and recrossed the Monivong Bridge, which was soon closed to civilians. I wanted to go to Takmau but wasn't allowed to because there were already too many people in that area, so I was sent to Bek Chan, and then to Prek Kdam.
“We reached Phnom Penh Thmey [an extension of Phnom Penh in the west] around 6:00 P.M. Ofl that April seventeenth,” reports You Kim Lanh, a technician employed by Cambodian Electricity who fled to Thailand (Camp Aranh) in April 1976 and is now in France.
Here and there we could see the bodies of villagers who had been killed by the Khmer Rouge, presumably because they didn't want to leave their homes.
On April 19, at ten in the morning, I saw the Khmer Rouge arrest about twenty young men with long hair they shot them before our eyes. Everybody was terrified and had their hair cut at once, even in the middle of the night.
When we got to Ang Long Kagnanh [10 kilometers from Phnom Penh] the road was blocked by Khmer Rouge who searched us, tore off wristwatches, and took away radios, necklaces, and gold rings. They told us the Angkar needed them and was only borrowing the jewels for a while but would give them back later. From there we were made to turn l)ack to Highway 5. We reached Prek Phneuv on April 25 .
On every road leading out of tho capital the revolutionaries adopted the same methods. “At Vat Kak,” Suon Phal says, “I saw a Khmer Rouge writing down the names of officers, important officials, and notables. He said the Khmer Rouge were going to take them to the city to help the Angkar. In the group they took away I recognized Hang Tung Hak, Pan Sothi [both former ministers], Phi Thien Lay, Uk Yon, Ly Chae [a lawyer), Si Tek [major in the engineer corps], Sisowath Suong Chivin, and many more officers whose names I didn't know.”
Main Sarun reached Camp Kap Choeung in Thailand on February 15, 1976, and is still in that country. A captain, he was in command of a battalion in the Neak Luong region. When his base was invaded on April 1 he refused to surrender and took his 1)attaliOn through the Khmer Rouge lines toward Prey Veng, which he reached on April 15. After the fall of Phnom Penh he again refused to surrender, changed to civilian dress, crossed the Mekong at Dey Eth, and went in search of his family.
I found my family near Kieng Svay pagoda on April 27 and we stayed there over a month. Behind the pagoda the Khmer Rouge had written an order on a big blackboard: “All officers from the rank of second lieutenant up must register here in order to return to Phnom Penh. Professor’s, students, and schoolteachers must also give their names, but will leave later.” Every day I saw many officers come up and sign their names. They were separated from the rest of the people and given plenty of rice; their families stayed inside the pagoda but didn’t get much to eat. Then they were taken away and never seen again. Among them I recognized General Chlay Lay, General Pen Rada, Colonel Neang San, Lieutenant Colonel Nhong Chan Sovat, Colonel Kauk 01, and many others.
Seng Huot, twenty-eight years old and a teacher, who escaped to Thailand in late February 1976, gives an account of the same procedure being employed on the road to Koinpong Speu
At Kambaul [fifteen kilometers from Phnom Penhj on Highway 4, the Khmer Rouge emptied cars and took all objects of value: watches, radios, tape recorders, etcetera. All along the road they were searching for pilots and teachers and every sort of weapon, drugs, batteries. The sorting center was at Kompong Kantuot; civilians were allowed to pass bpt the military were led away, and shots were heard soon afterward.“At Prek Phneuv,” You Kim Lanh says, “a loudspeaker car was inviting all officers, civil servants, ministers, members of parliament, and technicians to return to Phnom Penh to work with the Angkar. I returned with other technicians from Cambodian Electricity.
At the French embassy, we saw some trucks loaded with men and women returning to Phnom Penh. At first we thought they were revolutionary officials or peasants brought in to repopulate the city However, on the afternoon of May 5 when I left the embassy to check the water reserves of the nearby French technical mission, I met a Khmer lady doctor whom I knew well, Oum Sameth. I was amazed when she told me that the Khmer Rouge had asked all senior officers to return to Phnom Penh to organize the country.” To get back to the capital she had passed herself off as the wife of her cousin, who was a colonel.
You Kim Lanh gives further details:
We were all taken to the ministry of information; there, we had to write our autobiographies before being sent to the Monorom Hotel, which was the headquarters of the special forces.” While I was in the l)otel I saw more than two hundred of Lon Nol's officers brought in. They were taken away again the same night, for an unknown destination.
Every day the Khmer Rouge brought in another hundred or more people, mostly officers. Among them I recognized General Am Rong, the former government spokesman on military questions; Colonel Ly Teck; and Tep Chieu Kheng (former minister of information and ex-editor in chief of the newspaper Depeche du cambodge) One after another they all disappeared, and always at night. I knew a few of the Khmer Rouge at the Monorom Hotel, Met [Comrade] Hok in particular, who was the nephew of Touch Kim, the former governor of the National Bank; and Met Sonn, commander of the special forces brigade. I asked them what had happened to the people who disappeared from the hotel. The answer was: “We kill them all because they're traitors and deserve to be shot!” Since I had seen the sick or invalid soldiers in Hospital 701 massacred with my own eyes, I am sure they were telling the truth.
So many accounts contain similar statements that it can safely be affirmed that the revolutionaries had simply decided to kill off the bulk of the former civilian and military establishment in the hours following the capture of Phnom Penh.