15 October 2014

Pol Pot's daughter, who at age 10 saw her father's bloated corpse in a Cambodian jungle in 1998, has married her university sweetheart in a ceremony overshadowed by the late Khmer Rouge leader's murderous regime.

Sar Patchata, 26, is the only child of Pol Pot, whose real name was Saloth Sar.

Pol Pot's fanatic mix of Maoist and Stalinist communism and rush to create a rural-based society with "new people" starting at the "year zero," resulted in nearly two million Cambodian deaths from executions, torture, slavery, starvation, and disease.

Ms. Sar earned her master's degree in English literature in Malaysia where, a few years ago, she met Sy Vicheka.

The two Cambodians married in Kbal Spean village, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in northwest Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province near Thailand's border.

About 50 guests attended the two-day ceremony which began on March 15, according to Cambodian media.

On March 16, the couple was blessed by four Buddhist monks and reportedly received cash, gold and other gifts worth thousands of dollars.

Guests included So Socheat, wife of former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan who is currently undergoing a United Nations-backed trial in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh for crimes against humanity, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported.

The wedding mixed Cambodian traditions, festive music, expensive alcohol and European flourishes, and was attended by Patchata's mother, Mea Son.

Ms. Sar was born after her mother -- who was "a peasant" and "former ammunition porter for the Khmer Rouge" -- married Pol Pot in 1985, according to award winning American journalist Nate Thayer.

A few years earlier, Pol Pot's first wife "went insane" in the jungle, Mr. Thayer said.

During her childhood, up until when "Pol Pot committed suicide in isolated jungles on a besieged mountainside in 1998, Sar Patchata lived the furtive existence of a hunted animal, in hiding, on the run, and using aliases, under the rule of the most secretive, isolated guerrilla group in the world," Mr. Thayer wrote.

When Mr. Thayer interviewed Pol Pot in 1997, the frail Khmer Rouge leader "spoke at length about his little girl."

"He became animated and whimsical, exuding a gentle fatherly love that was clearly sincere and typical for the father of a young girl," Mr. Thayer wrote on March 16, adding fresh text to his unpublished book titled, Sympathy for the Devil: A Journalist's Memoir from Inside Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge.

"I can't even play with my daughter or my wife anymore because I can't get out of bed," Pol Pot told Mr. Thayer.

"My daughter gathers wood and works in the kitchen. But we are together for dinner," Pol Pot said, according to excerpts on Washington-based Mr. Thayer's website.

In 1998, Mr. Thayer visited Pol Pot who was then under house arrest in a wooden shack, and met Pol Pot's daughter.

Pol Pot was being blamed by rival Khmer Rouge for "crimes against the revolution" and their 1975-79 regime's failures.

Pol Pot committed suicide on April 15, 1998, by consuming "a full bottle of the sedative Valium and a bottle of the powerful anti-malarial drug, Chloroquine," Mr. Thayer reported.

The next morning, Mr. Thayer saw the little girl gripping her mother's hand and "weeping quietly as she stood over her father's bloating corpse."

"The one room thatch-roofed hut on stilts was surrounded by a freshly laid minefield. There was a freshly dug bunker outside the front door for shelter from the incoming artillery and mortar rounds that rained down," that morning, Mr. Thayer said.

Tep Khunnal, who was Pol Pot's close adviser and a Khmer Rouge delegate to the U.N. during the 1980s, fulfilled Pol Pot's dying request to take care of his wife and daughter.

Mr. Khunnal married Pol Pot's widow and helped raise Ms. Sar.

Proudly presiding over Ms. Sar's marriage, Mr. Khunnal told the Cambodia Daily, "It is only a small wedding ceremony with our friends and relatives."

"This wedding is not about politics," said Suong Sikoeun, a former Khmer Rouge Foreign Ministry official who also witnessed the marriage.

"It is an example of how the Khmer people, whether rich and poor, can meet without dispute and not continue to hold onto ill-feelings," Mr. Sikoeun said.

Ms. Sar portrayed herself as a modern Cambodian who likes Beyoncé, David Beckham, Vin Diesal and Chris Brown, according to her Facebook page which she recently removed, possibly to lower her public profile.

When she was 16, Ms. Sar told reporters, "I want to meet my father and spend time with him in the next life, if the next life exists.

"I used to sit on his lap. I would just play with him and hug and kiss him," Ms. Sar said.

In the early 1970s, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge appeared as jungle-based guerrillas in response to massive U.S. bombardments of Cambodia during the widening U.S.-Vietnam War.

When America lost the war and retreated, Pol Pot seized power in 1975, but was ousted when Vietnam invaded in 1979 and chased him and his Khmer Rouge back into the jungle.