Saturday, July 16, 2016

French Period

During the French period, we did not have independence. We often saw the French along the road, although they did not come into the village.

Along the road, there was a French military post the people called Daem Thnaot barrack. It was located in Ta Kok pagoda next to my hometown of Lvea. The French cut down sugar palm trees and used them to make walls and they guarded the road around it using uniformed Khmer soldiers. The French came every day, but they never slept there. The post was guarding against the Issarak but I didn’t know what the Issarak wanted. I just heard, ‘Issarak, Issak.’When the Issarak came, the people went along with them. When the French came, they went with the French.

Later, I came to learn that the Issarak were trying to free the country from French rule. Same villagers joined them in this struggle. People helped them, especially at night, and they would punish us if we refused them. Anyway, almost all the people supported the Khmer Issarak.

When the Reanch chased and shot at the Issarak, they fled into the fields. They hid their rifles in the sheaves of rice and pretended to use the sickle to harvest rice like other people until the French soldiers left.

At the time I was 8, 9, or 10 years old. I don’t know if my parents or other older people supported them. But the Issarak came and they had rifles. People helped them carry ammunition. For instance, they called my elder brother, Mom, at night to help carry ammunition. He would be back the following morning. As for me, I was too young to understand what they wanted.
I never saw the French arrest a member of the Khmer Issarak. But I did see Khmer shoot Khmer. There were Khmer working at the French military post., and Khmer Issarak would come and shoot at them.

During the day time, the French went and collected taxes in the communes and districts. They taxed everything, including land and houses. I saw this and I heard my father talk about it. I heard people from other districts say the French collected taxes even though people dried their rice on the road in front of their house. When they come to collect taxes, my father and brothers hid in piles of rice and in the pond behind the house.


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