Year published :September 2016
Pages :208 pp.
Black & White photograph :29
Color illustrations :20
Itinerary of an Ordinary Torturer: Interview with Duch, Former Khmer Rouge Commander of S-21by Christophe Peschoux and Haing Kheng Heng
Kaing Guek Eav was an ordinary young man growing up in Cambodia in the mid-twentieth century. He showed promise as a student, excelled in school, got a job as a math teacher, and experienced the political awakening common to young adulthood. But then he became a revolutionary, adopting the alias “Duch,” and took charge of S-21, the infamous secret security center of the Khmer Rouge where in less than four years at least 14,000 “enemies” of the revolution were incarcerated, interrogated, tortured, and executed. After the sudden collapse of the government, Duch fled to the Cambodian frontier, where he took yet another name and lived in workaday anonymity until he was finally unmasked and sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the heinous crimes of S-21.
This is the last interview Duch gave as a free man, taking place just days before his arrest in May 1999. In it he describes, with remarkable and sometimes chilling precision, the workings of the Khmer Rouge movement and his own role and actions in the startling irrationality of that harrowing and haphazard regime. The interview is supported by an introduction and epilogue that delve unflinchingly into Duch’s character and motivations, our own humanity, and the sometimes uncomfortable implications of global justice.
About the Author
CHRISTOPHE PESCHOUX and KHENG HAING HENG have worked for many years together in Cambodia as human rights investigators for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, documenting numerous crimes of the current regime. Out of this rich experience grew their friendship, this interview, and this book.
- Provides, through Duch’s words, a detailed, inside view of the workings of S-21 and the Khmer Rouge movement.
- Invites readers to reflect on a man who joins the revolution with lofty ideals but becomes one of its more zealous torturers.
- Replete with historical and current photographs of Duch, key figures in the Khmer Rouge regime, and their victims.
What Others Are Saying
“This interview should become a vital historical document not only for Cambodian history but for the study of the mind of a mass murderer.”—Elizabeth Becker, former New York Times correspondent and author of When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution
“This is a must-read for those who seek to understand Cambodia, mass murder, and internationalized criminal justice. Peschoux presents this pioneering interview with a combination of condemnation and compassion, having crucial implications for understanding and achieving justice for the victims of past, current, and future instances of mass murder worldwide.”—Steve Heder, School of Oriental and African Studies
Duch l Khmer Rouge l S-21 l Cambodian history l ideology l torture l human rights