Man or Monster?: The Trial of a Khmer Rouge Torturer
Alexander Laban Hinton is Founding Director, Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights and Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He is coeditor of Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, also published by Duke University Press, and author of the award-winning Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide.
Master: (Torture and Execution)
This chapter delves deeply into the process of interrogation, torture, and execution at S-12. It begins with a discussion of the “torture manual,” a notebook that contains notes written by interrogators who attended one of the training sessions Duch held. His lectures ranged from the details of work schedules to ideology and to instructions about how to get an enemy to confess, including the best ways to mix “politics” and torture. The chapter extensively discusses the documentation of (and Duch’s testimony about) the confession of Ya, a high-ranking cadre whose interrogation and torture Duch oversaw. The chapter concludes by considering what might have happened at S-21 to Long Muy (the prisoner whose confession Duch used to suggest he was a cog in the machine) and the details of how prisoners were killed on site and then later at Choeung Ek, a killing field just outside Phnom Penh, where S-21 prisoners were periodically trucked in at night and killed. During the trial, the prosecution presented repeated documentary evidence with Duch’s handwriting giving instructions for torture, interrogation, and “smashing.” Besides describing torture and execution at S-21, the chapter illustrates how a process of framing, calibration, articulation, and redaction all underlay the violence that took place at S-21.