Left 3 Days
“Left 3 Days” is a keyword to recall some memories during my childhood at that time; particularly on 17 April 1975 when Khmer Rouge troops took control and occupied the capital city ‘Phnom Penh’. On that day the earsplitting gunfire shots could be heard for miles around the city. For every shot fired, a shiver would run down my spine. The soldiers clad in black -most were very young - ordered all residents to leave their homes for three days, even patients had to leave the hospitals without any clear information. My family hide in our house over a night, hoping the situation may change for the better. However, to our dismay, the capital city that was once so lively and rich with life became a ghost town.
As ordered, everyone was evicted out of the capital city. The only living human beings left were the Khmer Rouge troops that kept searching for any people who remained, they went from house to house. Due to the worsening situation, my father decided to leave Phnom Penh the next day. My parents and other family members left the city carrying heavy and overburdening belongings.
We headed out of the city, along the national road "3", walking to Angkor Chey district in Kampot province, my father’s hometown.
Crowds of the city residents walked from dusk till dawn. Some would wander around with no clear destination in mind. If one of them was too tired, they were not able to rest, for the Khmer Rouge troops were chasing behind them and forcing them to continue onward. Whenever night fell, people would rest by the roadside. Many dead bodies lay on both sides of the road and corpses would float upward in ponds, lakes and water canals. Due to the severe drought and corpses floating in what little water sources were left, finding drinking water was extremely difficult.
Words alone cannot describe the horror and pain inflicted on each and every family. What has been described is just a fraction of the events which occurred and a glimpse into the primary plan of the Khmer Rouge to evict the citizens from Phnom Penh to rural areas.
I wish to dedicate this work as a memorial to my respectful father, grandfather and three uncles as well as all the victims who died during the heinous Khmer Rouge regime.
Phnom Penh, 05 December 2014