Mr. Nhem En

This witness was born on 9 September 1961, in Trapeang Leaeng Village, Trangel Sub-district, Kampong Leang District, Kampong Chhnang Province. He has written a book about his work as a photographer at Tuol Sleng from 1975 to 1979. Mr Nhem En joined the revolution in 1971 with five of his siblings, two of which were eventually killed as a result of internal purges. He moved to Phnom Penh in 1975 and worked several jobs until 1976, publishing newspapers and delivering letters between Monivong Hospital and Ta Khmau Prison. According to Mr Nhem En, in January 1976 Angkar sent him for six months to study photography and filming in China. When he returned he started working at Tuol Sleng shooting films and taking photos. He also worked as a field photographer documenting the activities of Democratic Kampuchea in six zones, but mainly in S-21. For field trips he received orders from Son Sen, Minister of National Defence, and Ta Nat. Duch only gave him orders for photographic work at Tuol Sleng. Among the photographic missions he carried out for the regime, he accompanied delegations from the Communist bloc visiting worksites in the Northwest Zone including Trapeang Thmar Dam, Trapeanng Pou and 1st January Dam. During these visits he also took photos of high ranking Khmer Rouge cadres such as Pol Pot and Son Sen. Besides film-making and photography, his tasks included drawing maps of the Northeast Zone. The witness also took pictures of people at Prey Sar, but he mainly worked at S-21. He argued, however, that only a small number of prisoners at Tuol Sleng were photographed, the rest were taken and killed before their photo was taken. During his testimony Mr Nhem En explained the hierarchy of S-21 in relation to Division 703. He also gave details about the organization and staff at Tuol Sleng, including Duch. The witness discussed his work as a photographer for the regime, the procedure when taking photos of prisoners and the use of such material. When Vietnamese forces reached Phnom Penh on 7 January 1975, the witness escaped S-21 with Duch. Before leaving, Mr Nhem En buried photographic and filming equipment that he retrieved when he returned to Phnom Penh in 1990 during the tri-party negotiations in Paris. Since the national reintegration in Anlong Veaeng in 1997, the witness has gathered and stored a collection of photographs, films and audio recordings of the Democratic Kampuchea regime era. He argued most of the material was his own, some of it he retrieved from Pol Pot’s house after his death, and other material he retrieved from military commanders.

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  • Cases : Case 002Case 002/02
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