Here are the graves in Anlong Veng of two of the most prominent Khmer Rouge leaders: Pol Pot and Ta Mok. Both men were responsible for mass killings – yet one of them is still being honored by many in the local community. Who do you think?
Anlong Veng was the last stronghold of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Located close to the Thai border north in the country it provided a possible escape to another country if the government troops should get too close for comfort.
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During the last few years of his life Pol Pot hid in the outskirts of this little town. He died in 1998 and later in the same year the government finally took control over the area which had been ruled by Khmer Rouge for more than two decades.
Ta Mok, also known as “Brother Number Five”, was the Khmer Rouge leader controlling this area during the period of civil war. According to Wikipedia he controlled between 3000 and 6000 soldiers who were regularly fighting government forces.
In 1997 Khmer Rouge split. Pol Pot fled, but was later arrested by Ta Mok and was his prisoner when he died on April 15, 1998. Ta Mok, on his part, fled the government and was arrested in 1999. He died in a prison in Phnom Penh in 2006, awaiting trial for genocide at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Back to the graves: The one to the left belongs to Pol Pot. His funeral – or rather, lack of funeral – was arranged by Ta Mok, the winner in the final power struggle between the two men. Pol Pot was given no honor whatsoever.
For Ta Mok, on the other hand, a huge and expensive grave has just been finished. It is a telling contrast to the very simple grave of “Brother Number One” and a symbol of who got the upper-hand in writing the history in the minds of the local people.
When talking to villagers in the Anlong Veng, it becomes clear that Ta Mok won the local propaganda war. Pol Pot is despised as the man responsible for everything that was wrong during the Khmer Rouge regime, including the mass killings. Ta Mok is remembered as a local leader who provided them with food and other necessities during the difficult years of civil war.
In any case this fact remains: As “Brother Number One” and “Brother Number Five” both Pol Pot and Ta Mok were responsible for the deaths of up to two million people. If they had been alive, they would now have been in prison awaiting trial for genocide at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.