Mr. Henri Locard provided 4 days of expert testimony at the Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). He is a currently a volunteer at the history department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. He began researching Democratic Kampuchea soon after his return to Cambodia in 1989 when his friend, Moeung Sonn, requested his assistance to write his biography. Shortly thereafter, he began a PhD on the ideology and political system of the Khmer Rouge. Over the following years he published a number of books including “Pol Pot’s Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar”/” Petit livre rouge de Pol Pot” which was discussed during the course of his testimony. Locard explained his use of secondary sources, including publications by David Chandler and Ben Kiernan, and primary sources from interviews, “hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands” for which he took notes. He stated his research was “grassroots” within the provinces and communes – a dialogue of ordinary people.
During this time he told the Court he collected slogans for his personal interest. Over the course of his research, he realised if these slogans were organised into themes – Maoist slogans, the “hunt for enemies”, slogans about work, around the death of the individual or the collective life – that the ideology and the ways of thinking of the Khmer Rouge could be revealed. Locard stated that he approached his research of Democratic Kampuchea from the history of the Cold War. He researched regimes similar in ideology including Vietnam, Communist Vietnam, Communist China, the Soviet Union and North Korea.
He had a particular focus on China, as he believed the regime was largely modelled on China; that the regime was “a combination of the Great Leap Forward and counterrevolution.” Locard spoke of his interest in the smaller provincial prisons, for which records are rare. He explained that in 1975-1976 most prisoners were those of the old regime – educated people connected with the Republican regime and the Sihanouk regime. During 1977-1978, the prisoners were from all classes and more and more from within the ranks of the revolution, the civilians and the military. Locard explained that was a major prison for each region, from the evidence he found, there were about 150 districts. Every district had a prison, and some districts had several, particularly those located closer to the centre.
He described the tiers of prisons – in the first tier were those that had less than 100 prisoners where there was one person asking the questions, interrogating and writing biographies. In the district prison there were more inmates. There were at least three people that conducted the interrogations – one who asks questions, one who writes in the notebooks and one who “hits/ threatens to hit.” In larger prisons, inmates may be into the hundreds, up to 1000, as was the case for Siem Reap Prison.
Locard stated that the turnover was quite rapid with people interrogated over one to three days as room had to be made for new inmates. People usually did not survive more than three months; the average would be 3-4 weeks. Locard stated that the mode of interrogation and torture was similar to other Communist regimes. The system was therefore highly centralized, there was only vertical communication. Locard stated that when the Vietnamese came in, there were abundant archives in all of the security centres on the 7 January 1979. He stated that they disappeared as the people’s main concern was to survive at the end of the regime. Locard stated that in some locations, they were systematically destroyed, as Locard believed to have occurred in Tia Siem’s district.