37 Years Anniversary of Forced Evacuation by the Khmer Rouge
Today, 37 years ago, on 21 April, 1975; I, my uncles, my aunts and other relatives were forced to leave Boeung Tumpon area, in southern suburb of Phnom Penh. It marks the 37 Years Anniversary of Forced Evacuation by the Khmer Rouge into the darkness and uncertainties. The journey begun, when we were forced to leave our rental apartment, in the middle of the city on 17 April, 1975. I was separated from my parents, brothers and sisters up to March 1980, five years without any contacts or information.
In the morning of April 17, 1975; the victory day of the Khmer Rouge over the Lon Nol Khmer Republic, marched the black-clothes soldiers into Phnom Penh, after fierce fighting months before. They were greeted with great Joyce by the inhabitants. All of us were very happy to hear that the fighting came to an end and that peace will return to Cambodia. Some even were joking that Prince Sihanouk would return and will check for his belonging and the one who had stolen it from the Royal Palace etc. I was at that time 12 years old. At around noon time, we were forced to leave Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge. All must leave without any exemption. For some, who refused to leave their house, ended in death penalty. We were told that we could return to Phnom Penh in three days. We left via Monivong Boulevard in the south direction across sea of people. For five Km in distance, it took us nearly whole day. Reaching Kbal Thnol we turned right in the direction of Boeung Tumpon, where my uncles and aunts had their houses there. We expected that we could stay there for three days and other people would be able to return also. But, we were forced at gunpoint to leave that area on 21 April. The uncertain journey, under the Khmer Rouge tyrannies, begun.
I and my relatives then reached our home village next to Phnom Chisor, about 40 Km south of Phnom Penh. We were living there for three months before forcing to move again to Battambang province, close to the border to Thailand. From three days, it turned to three years, eight months and twenty days of horror, hunger, diseases, forced labors, killing, destruction etc in the modern history of Cambodia, which caused around 2 million out of 7 million Cambodians perished. Out of 21 members of our relatives went to Battambang province in 1975, only 10 survived this ultra-communist regime in January 1979, mainly young people and children. My grand mother, my uncles and aunts, lost their lives in Mukchhneang village, Spean Sreng commune, Phnom Srok district, (former) Battambang province (now, Banteay Meanchey province).