Au Kanseng Security Centre

Posted Mon, 04/07/2014 - 15:09 / Updated Tue, 02/03/2015 - 15:51
Democratic Kampuchea Zone
Democratic Kampuchea District
Democratic Kampuchea Sector
Current Day District
Current Day Province
Alleged Crimes

[Disclaimer: The content in Closing Orders are allegations, which need to be proven through adversarial hearings. As such, the allegations below can not be treated as facts unless they have been established through a final judgment.]

Location and Establishment 
589. The security centre designated as “Au Kanseng Reeducation and Corrections Office” (also called Au Kanseng Security Centre, Reeducation School 801, or Military Prison 801) was established between the end of 1976 and early 1977 as part of Military Division 801 of the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea (“RAK”). It was operational until the arrival of Vietnamese forces. It was located in Phum (village) 6 (not Phum 3 as is sometimes mistakenly indicated) Labansiek Subdistrict, Banlung District, Ratanakiri Province in the vicinity of the Au Kanseng stream near the current provincial hospital of Ratanakiri Province. Applying the CPK’s system of identifying administrative boundaries, it was located in Sector 102 of the Northeast Zone.

590. Centre Division 801 was created with cadre and combatants from Division 11 and Division 14, two of the three divisions of the Special Military Zone that, via Son Sen, the CPK armed forces General Staff Chairman, answered to the Military Committee of the CPK Central Committee. The commander of Division 801 was Sau Saroeun alias 05 alias Saroeun, with San alias 06 as his deputy, and was in 1976 replaced by Kev Saroeun. End of 1975, Division 801 was deployed in the Ratanakiri Province, Northeast Zone. The policy of Division 801 was issued from the Centre at General Staff meetings attended by Sau Saroeun during which he reported to Son Sen. Sau Saroeun exchanged telegrams from Division 801 headquarters with the General Staff Office in Phnom Penh and in return, Son Sen instructed the actions of Division 801.

591. The establishment of Au Kanseng coincided with or followed the arrest and execution of Men San alias Ya who entered S-21 on 20 September 1976. This is corroborated by communication between Son Sen and Division 801. On 30 August 1976, Saroeun attended a meeting convened by Son Sen of the Centre Divisions and independent regiments, at which Son Sen ordered that it was “imperative to conduct further purges of no-good elements,” including by concentrating them in one location for reeducation. At another such gathering on 19 September 1976, Son Sen stressed the threat from “enemies inside the country and inside our ranks,” declaring that “we must have an absolute stance to screen out counter-revolutionary elements”. On 23 September 1976, Son Sen addressed a “view instructing 801” to Saroeun, ordering him to take action against purported enemies attempting “to go undercover and bore from within our army and grassroots”. On 25 November 1976, Saroeun reported back to Son Sen that “as for anyone implicated in the enemies’ responses, it is imperative to scrutinize the documentation and propose their provisional arrest,” whereas “those who move about freely or violate discipline and who have been reeducated already but do not obey must be subjected to the measure of removal and being placed in concentration for surveillance”. He added he was “standing by for the Party’s guiding views”.

592. The prison consisted of an unfenced yard with sides measuring about 200 metres long. It was divided into separate buildings including 4 to 5 houses for detainees. Amongst these, two were reserved for serious offenders. The centre also served as an execution site: inside the security compound, about 150 metres from the prison, there were about 10 burial pits. However, most of the dead bodies were buried in B52 bomb craters outside the compound.


Structure and Personnel 
593. Cadres from the Division 801 headquarters at Veun Sai were assigned to Au Kanseng. [REDACTED] was appointed Chairman of the centre by Ta Saroeun commander of Division 801. [REDACTED] was the Deputy Chairman in charge of interrogation and preparation of prisoner documents. [REDACTED] was in charge of security guard management and supervision. There were also a number of other security personel and guards.

594. Au Kanseng was subordinated to Military Unit 806 under Division 801 which was responsible for transport, logistics, warehouses and the Au Kanseng complex.. Unit 806 chairman was Ta Smien with Deputy [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] in charge of logistics. In late 1978, Ta Smien was arrested and sent to Phnom Penh. He was replaced by [REDACTED].

595. The leadership of Au Kanseng had working meetings with Sau Saroeun every three or four months except when urgent meetings were necessary. There was also an annual Zone assembly. The working communication between Au Kanseng and Division 801 leadership went from [REDACTED] to the Chairman of Unit 806 although on some important matters it was presented directly to the Division. As Battalion Secretary, Smien attended the first General Staff study session convened on 20 October 1976 as part of a group of 31 Division 801 cadres.

596. The reporting back of instructions followed the same chain except during the last year of operation when the Chairman of Au Kanseng was instructed by 801 leading cadre Son, who had become number three in the Division, to stop reporting via the 806, and to only report direct to the Division instead.

597. Whilst Sau Saroeun rarely visited Au Kanseng, [REDACTED], Chairman of Military Unit 806 often visited, and received reports from it destined for the Division. There is no evidence that any of the Charged Persons visited Au Kanseng.

598. The leadership of Au Kanseng had no power to arrest, nor to release prisoners. They were only authorised to take prisoners into custody, examine the reports that were sent and monitor their activities in the prison.

599. The entry and exist dates of the detainees were recorded and notes were taken on incoming and outgoing prisoners. Between late 1976 and early 1977, there were between 10 and 40 prisoners at the centre, all soldiers, sent from units subordinated to Division 801. In 1978, the number of prisoners increased to more than 100. One witness asserts that there were 400-600 detainees. By late 1978, Au Kanseng had a mixed population of soldiers, prisoners from cooperatives, rubber plantation workers and civilians from sector 101.

600. The military prisoners were arrested from Division 801 regiments 81, 82 and 83. They were arrested by their regiments upon the order of Sau Saroeun. The soldiers of Division 801 who were arrested were considered to be free elements because they had disobeyed military discipline, used critical words regarding the Party or had been implicated in confessions from Phnom Penh. These confessions would first be sent to Sau Saroeun, who would then forward the information to the military units for arrest and transport of those implicated to Au Kanseng. These confessions were delivered along with the prisoners.

601. On 15 June 1977, Northeast Zone Secretary Vy sent a telegram to “Respected Brother,” copied to Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Son Sen, among others,  informing them that “it had been decided that [REDACTED]” a Division 801 cadre, “would find a way secretly to take away the contemptible undercovers at the rubber and cotton plantations and in the mobile units”. Consequently, the rubber plantation union workers were arrested and sent to Au Kanseng on the order of the Chairman of the Northeast Zone Rubber Plantations [REDACTED] also concurrently on the Zone Committee. Workers were arrested for a number of reasons including immorality in daily life, speaking in defence of an arrested pregnant wife, being critical of the Party or were accused of using “techniques of the feudalist class, not farmer’s techniques”. In the 15 June 1977 telegram Northeast Zone Secretary Vy added that “once responses have been obtained from all of them and clearly-tape recorded, the quest is made for a decision for the highest level for all of them”.

602. Prisoners arrested from the cooperatives were sent by their chief along with reports of the faults attributed to them. They were mostly arrested for minor offences such as stealing food.

603. Former detainees of Au Kanseng further state that between 100 and 250 prisoners from the Jarai minority had been arrested. 

604. Prisoners were often transported by truck to the prison. While some prisoners remained without cuffs at the moment of their arrest, they were held at gunpoint and led in single file to their rooms. Arrests of the Union workers happened in groups.

605. Some prisoners were shackled either separately or collectively in rows of five to ten on a single steel bar. Civilians, woman and children were neither shackled nor chained. Female and male prisoners were detained separately. Most prisoners were taken to go work during the day and then locked in their cells at night with soldiers guarding from the outside while some were kept shackled in their cells permanently. The prisoners worked, under the supervision of guards, performing a variety of activities such as clearing grass, working in the rice paddies, planting and tending food, and building dams and dikes. Periodically, the prisoners would be brought to reeducation meetings which were led by the Chairman who had previously met with Division chief Ta Saroeun.

606. Living conditions were very harsh in particular for those chained or shackled. When prisoners were not shackled they could bathe in a stream near the prison under the guard of soldiers.

607. According to the deputy Chairman of Au Kanseng, prisoners who were not chained had enough food. However, except for one witness who worked in the kitchen, most witnesses state that the food was insufficient. One detainee witnessed a case of cannibalism.

608. The health of the prisoners deteriorated as time went by in detention. According to some witnesses, there was no medicine whilst others report that in some cases, a medic named [REDACTED] administered some medicine for the sick. In one instance, a prisoner was sent to pick leaves to boil with rice bran for another sick prisoner to eat. Many prisoners died from illness and malnutrition.

609. Sau Saroeun ordered that if there were any prisoners who were considered as minor offenders or as having been successfully reeducated, that they could be sent from Au Kanseng to the 809 Reeducation Office in Phnom Kach Changkeh near Au Tang, which reported regularly to Division 801.

610. There was a separate interrogation building inside the prison compound. The interrogations would be led by Deputy Chairman [REDACTED]. Most prisoners were not interrogated upon their arrival at the prison; they would be left in their cells to allow staff from the centre to read their files and familiarized themselves with the charges against them or called to give their biographies and asked about the reasons for their arrest.

611. [REDACTED], the Deputy Chairman, explained that he “never tortured the prisoners, but there may have been some torture of prisoners done by the security personnel”. [REDACTED] describes that “there was some torture; but not all of them were tortured”. [REDACTED] reports that some prisoners were beaten with whips and electrically shocked because they were suspected of lying. According to some detainees there were no prevalent incidents of serious mistreatment during interrogations however some did witness serious mistreatment of prisoners during interrogation. For most, the serious mistreatment was from the famine, the workload and the restriction of movement.

612. [REDACTED] made the reports of the interrogations and sent them to [REDACTED], who would send both the confessions and the results from the additional interrogation through the Commander of Unit 806 to Sau Saroeuun at the division level for instruction.

613. An interrogator named [REDACTED] from Phnom Penh came to work at Au Kanseng in mid-1977 for about two or three months.  Sau Saroeun personally told [REDACTED] that [REDACTED] was from the General Staff with Unit 703 under the command of  Pin and came to “[REDACTED] [i.e. [REDACTED]] in order to track down the activity background of the prisoners who had been implicated in the confessions from Phnom Penh”. Sau Saroeun personally told [REDACTED]that someone would come from Phnom Penh to work at Au Kanseng. [REDACTED] had a permission letter from Phnom Penh and arrived with confessions with annotations indicating that the relevant prisoners must be questioned on their networks and activities. [REDACTED] himself told [REDACTED] that, prior to coming to Au Kanseng, he worked with Division 63 and “his unit was an interrogation place or a security place located at a former school of Tuol Svay Prey”. The Deputy Chairman understood that [REDACTED] came from S¬21, although Duch states he remembers no such person.

614. According to [REDACTED] it was two or three months after the arrest of a group of Division 801 cadres and intellectuals that [REDACTED] arrived at Au Kanseng. From December 1976, there were discussions between Son Sen and Saroeun and other Division 801 cadre about the purging of leading 801 cadre and cadre in the Northeast Zone. In 1977, Division 801 was indeed subjected to severe purges, with some regimental and battalion cadre, among others being arrested and sent to S-21, whilst lower-ranking cadre and ordinary combatants were sent to Au Kanseng.

615. After [REDACTED]’s arrival, many cadres of Lay Sarim’s Unit, were arrested and brought to Au Kanseng. [REDACTED] participated in the interrogations of four prisoners who were high rank officers of Division 801 including cadres from former Division 11 in which Lay Sarim (who was sent to S-21 in January 1977) had been active before becoming Chairman of Hospital 805 of Division 801. [REDACTED] arranged the interrogation together with [REDACTED] of a company-level cadre name Pheng Phay, in the regiment of Lay Sarim and three platoon-level cadre named Port, Sàmrǐn and Thea.. During the interrogations [REDACTED] would refer to the confessions he brought from Phnom Penh implicating them. [REDACTED], himself made his own reports and brought them back with him to the General Staff in Phnom Penh.

Executions and Disappearances
616. The leadership of Au Kanseng did not have the authority to make the decision to execute a prisoner. The date the prisoner was taken to be executed was recorded and daily statistics reports were sent to the Division.

617. From December 1976, Saroeun began reporting the capture of “Yuon” by units of Division 801, as did Northeast Zone Secretary Vy.

618. A telegram dated 15 June 1977 addressed by Vy alias Um Neng, in his capacity as Secretary of the Northeast Zone, to "Respected Brother" and copied inter alia to Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary reports the arrest of 209 Vietnamese Jarai by Division 801: “… on this 14 June, while on patrol, the production unit of 801 stationed in 107 captured 209 Yuon troops, among whom there were nine women, in the vicinity of Au L’ik, at a distance of 4 kilometres south of Route 19 [?] . All of them are of Jarai nationality and speak Khmer with an accent. They have been transferred to holding ... According to the proposal of the 801 production unit, a request was made for a decision for the highest level straightaway. I awaited the responses before being being agreeable to such as decision”.

619. Sau Saroeun called [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] for a meeting where, according to the latter, they were told to “sort out those Jarai” ... the term ‘sort out’ [literally, to sort out or resolve] meant to ‘kill and get rid of’”.

620. According to [REDACTED] “the Jarai were captured and brought in from the Vietnamese border because the Vietnamese had driven these Jarai from the Vietnamese territory”. [REDACTED] further explains that they were charged with being Khieu-Ky soldiers and were called the “ethnic FULRO”.

621. The execution of the Jarai people followed. Men, woman and children were brought to Au kanseng Security Centre  until they were tied in line and taken away by truck  by a combination of forces, including a security unit from the sector, troops of artillery Battalion 803 and personnel of Au Kanseng itself, to be killed in three B-52 bomb carters less than a kilometre away from the prison.

622. In late 1978, also in the Au Ya Dav area, a group of six ethnic Vietnamese, including one woman, were captured and, upon the instructions of Sau Saroeun, escorted by the capturing units to be executed.

623. According to the Deputy Chairman, there was only one mass killing at Au Kanseng. that of the Jarai people. According to the leaders of the Centre, if several hundreds of people died at Au Kanseng, most of the workers or people from the cooperatives died from disease and not from execution. Some witnesses assert nevertheless that individual killings took place, mostly in late 1978. For example, Sau Saroeun directly ordered [REDACTED] to kill some prisoners who were not considered reformed after reeducation and correction. Any prisoners who had escaped and were recaptured were executed. Two witnesses report that a female prisoner accused of immorality had her back cut open and her bile bladder extracted and put on display in the kitchen. However, this is contested by the Chairman of Au Kanseng. Some other witnesses attest to never having seen nor heard of killings. Finally, three prisoners are reported to have hung themselves.