Treatment of Buddhists

Democratic Kampuchea Zone Northwest Zone  
Democratic Kampuchea District District 105  
Democratic Kampuchea Sector Sector 13  
Current Day District Tram Kok District  
Current Day Province Takeo  
Alleged Crimes Crimes against humanity  (MurderPersecution on Racial Grounds)

 

[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.]

From the Case 002 Closing Order:(The charges related to the treatment of Buddhists in Case 002/02 are limited to alleged crimes committed at the Tram Kok Cooperatives)

D. TREATMENT OF TARGETED GROUPS
205. One of the five policies was to implement and defend the CPK socialist revolution through the targeting of specific groups by whatever means necessary. This measure adversely affected many groups of people within Cambodia at that time, directly or indirectly. The Co-Investigating Judges have been specifically seized of acts of the CPK targeting the Cham, Vietnamese and Buddhist groups, and the targeting of former officials of the Khmer Republic (including both civil servants and former military personnel and their families), occurring throughout Cambodia from the early stages of CPK control over certain parts of the territory before 1975 and continuing until at least 6 January 1979. 

206. The Co-Investigating Judges are seized of treatment of the Cham in the Central, East and Northwest Zones; of the Vietnamese in Prey Veng and Svay Rieng Provinces in the East Zone and during incursions into Vietnam; of Buddhists throughout Democratic Kampuchea; and of former officials of the Khmer Republic during the movement of the population from Phnom Penh. This last incident constitutes only one of several occurrences of a pattern of targeting former officials of the Khmer Republic.

207. An objective of this policy was to establish an atheistic and homogenous society without class divisions, abolishing all ethnic, national, religious, racial, class and cultural differences. This is evidenced through Party documents relating to class. In 1974, an article written by Pol Pot in Revolutionary Flag set forth the notion that a “special class” existed in Cambodian society, comprised of “soldiers, police and Buddhist monks”. The notebooks of cadre that appear to refer to this article state that all national minorities were also considered to be part of this “separate special class type”. Other classes such as the feudalists, capitalists and bourgeois were described as opponents of the revolution. In September 1975, the implementation of this objective evolved when the CPK proclaimed these classes and the special separate class types abolished, declaring that the only classes that existed were workers and peasants, and that all of the other classes had been melded into these two groups. At this time, or shortly thereafter, Phnom Penh radio made its last references to Buddhist monks, Cham and other “national minorities”. Although senior Party authorities continued to talk about a Cambodian population incorporating non-Khmer nationalities into 1976, by August 1977, the national minorities’ de facto abolition and assimilation was officially stated to have advanced to the point where the country was described as “99 per cent” Khmer. Another objective of this policy was to eliminate enemies and to destroy certain groups, as such, in whole or in part. The targeting of specific groups was a key means by which the CPK did “whatever can be done that is a gain for the revolution”.

Dates and Participation
[…]
210. With respect to Buddhists, this policy began on or before 17 April 1975 and continued until at least 6 January 1979. High figures in the Buddhist hierarchy were executed during the evacuation of Phnom Penh, according to what Duch says he was told by those who carried out the killings. Chapter 15, Article 20 of the DK Constitution purported to regulate religion by in Revolutionary Flag set forth the notion that a “special class” existed in Cambodian society, comprised of “soldiers, police and Buddhist monks”. The notebooks of cadre that appear to refer to this article state that all national minorities were also considered to be part of this “separate special class type”. Other classes such as the feudalists, capitalists and bourgeois were described as opponents of the revolution. In September 1975, the implementation of this objective evolved when the CPK proclaimed these classes and the special separate class types abolished, declaring that the only classes that existed were workers and peasants, and that all of the other classes had been melded into these two groups. At this time, or shortly thereafter, Phnom Penh radio made its last references to Buddhist monks, Cham and other “national minorities”. Although senior Party authorities continued to talk about a Cambodian population incorporating non-Khmer nationalities into 1976, by August 1977, the national minorities’ de facto abolition and assimilation was officially stated to have advanced to the point where the country was described as “99 per cent” Khmer. Another objective of this policy was to eliminate enemies and to destroy certain groups, as such, in whole or in part. The targeting of specific groups was a key means by which the CPK did “whatever can be done that is a gain for the revolution”.

[...]

D. TREATMENT OF SPECIFIC GROUPS

Treatment of Buddhists

740. The CPK adopted a policy of prohibiting Buddhism and the practice of Buddhism. Many pagodas and sanctuaries were destroyed, or converted for other purposes such as security centres, pig pens, dining halls, hospitals or warehouses.  Images of Buddha were destroyed. Even lighting incense was prohibited. The CPK incited hatred of monks and nuns and disseminated propaganda about monks being parasites, blood-sucking parasitic worms, tapeworms and leeches. One witness states: “Immediately after the Khmer Rouge took control of this area, they forbid religions. They did not allow ceremonies or alms giving. The monks were all forced to leave the monkhood. The unit chiefs, the village chiefs, and the subdistrict chiefs announced that religious beliefs were not permitted … They said the monks in their big robes were feudalists who sucked the blood of the people”.

741. Virtually all Buddhist monks and nuns were disrobed. Some monks were threatened with death or killed if they did not comply. After the monks were disrobed, they were forced to do manual labour and farming. One former monk states that he was forced to marry and that if he objected he would have been taken to a “grave pit”.

742. Witnesses provide varying accounts as to which level of the CPK regime the orders to disrobe and persecute Buddhist monks originated from. Some witnesses describe the orders as coming from the “upper echelon” or from the “Party Centre”. Other witnesses describe meetings of the district committee in their area, or receiving orders directly from the district and subdistrict secretaries.

743. The abolition of religion, destruction of pagodas and use of pagodas for other purposes occurred throughout every area of Cambodia during the CPK regime: the Southwest Zone (including Wat Damnak Trayoeng in Touk Meas District, Kampot Province), the Northwest Zone (including Wat Samrong in Ek Phnom District, Battambang Province and Wat Kirirum in Phnom Sampov District, Battambang Province), the Central (Old North) Zone, the (New) North Zone, the East Zone (including Wat Chambak, Chantrea District, Svay Rieng Province and Wat Ta Kut and Wat Me in Ksach Kandal District, Kandal Province and Wat Thlork in Svay Chrum District, Svay Rieng Province), the West Zone, the Northeast Zone (including Wat Chey Mongkul in Se San District, Stung Treng Province and in the autonomous sector of Kratie (Sector 505, including Wat Antung Vien in Kratie District, Kratie Province).

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