Tuesday, 17 February 2009

An afternoon with a survivor of Tuol Sleng

I've been following the start of the trial of Kaing Guek Eav - better known as Duch - the head of the notorious Khmer Rouge S21 Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.

Duch is accused of presiding over the torture and killing of some 14,000 inmates - there were only seven survivors.

In 2007 I interviewed one of these survivors, Vann Nath.

On a typical hot and humid afternoon in Phnom Penh, we met at the small Khmer restaurant that he owns and runs with his family. I found Vann Nath a calm and kind man who thought deeply before answering my questions.

I'd read his book "A Cambodia Prison Portrait" describing how he managed to survive Tuol Sleng using his talents as an artist painting official portraits of brother number one Pol Pot.

I found it difficult to begin an interview with someone who had experienced such violence and horror. But Vann Nath feels he carries an enormous responsibility as a survivor to tell his story and to make sure such crimes never happen again.

Here's a look back at the story I produced for Radio Australia in April 2007 examining the steps towards reaching this day and the start of the trial.


Anonymous 11 November 2010 at 08:16  

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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