Kim Trang (alias Ieng Sary) is believed was born in Vietnam in October 1925 near the Cambodian border. He was held to be an outstanding student at the Collège Sisowath in Phnom Penh where he completed his studies In 1946 he created the student organisation “Libération du Cambodge du colonialisme français”.(Liberation of Cambodia from French Colonialism) and organised the first student protests in the country’s history.
At the end of the 1940s, Ieng Sary received a scholarship to study in France at the Lycée Condorcet and at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. It was during this period that he was introduced to communism and, in 1951, he became a member of the French Communist Party. It was also during this time that he met Saloth Sar, known as Pol Pot, and Khieu Samphan. In 1951 Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan founded the Cercle marxiste des étudiants Khmers à Paris (Marxist Circle of Khmer students in Paris). The same year, he became Pol Pot’s brother-in-law by marrying Ieng Tirith, the sister of Pol Pot’s first wife.
In 1957, Ieng Sary returned to Cambodia where he became a history professor at Collège Sisowath and an active member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.
In 1963, went underground with Pol Pot and joined the Khmer Rouge. It was at this time that he changed his Vietnamese name to that of Ieng Sary.
During the civil war of 1971 to 1975, he was a member of the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea and became the special envoy of the National United Front of Kampuchea.
When the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975, Ieng Sary became deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was then given the designation of “Brother Number 3”. In his position as head of the Diplomatic service of Democratic Kampuchea, Ieng Sary was the regime’s most visible personality.
His role and elevated position within the Khmer Rouge meant that he became implicated in many of the criminal acts committed by the regime. His speeches and declarations demonstrated that he was aware of the practice whereby pseudo confessions were obtained through torture. His spoken words gave the definite impression that he was in support of this practice.
Furthermore, certain of these pseudo confessions had written footnotes from Nuon Chea, the number two in the regime, saying they should be transmitted to comrade Van (Ieng Sary’s nom de guerre)
Finally and most importantly, the latter received copies of all the telegrams and other messages sent to Pol Pot which left no doubt as to the extent of the crimes being committed by the Khmer Rouge throughout the country.
Ieng Sary was also responsible for the Boueng Trebek internment and re-education camp, and for camps B17 and B18, in the province of Kompong Cham.
Ieng Sary is thought to be the person who carried out Pol Pot’s most atrocious campaigns, most notably, the massive purges within the Khmer Rouge movement. Ieng Sary was responsible for the execution of Cambodian expatriates who were deceived into returning to Cambodia under the pretence of participating in so-called National Reconstruction. It was also alleged that he was the architect of the massacre of intellectuals beginning in April 1975.
When Vietnamese forces took control of Cambodia in 1979, Ieng Sary fled to Thailand. He was then sentenced to death in absentia by the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal of Phnom Penh. He continued, however, to assume his official functions within the government in exile as the international community refused to recognise the new Cambodian government.
After the creation of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea in 1982, Ieng Sary transferred his title of Minister of Foreign Affairs to Khieu Samphan. Throughout this time, Ieng Sary personally was in command of Pailin, a Khmer Rouge stronghold.
In August 1996, Ieng Sary left the Khmer Rouge to join the government of Phnom Penh with 10 000 of his followers. Through forces loyal to him, he continued to lead the now “semi-autonomous” zone of Pailin.
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