About the Characters

Enemies of the People: Thet Sambath

Thet Sambath

A senior reporter for the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia's premier English-language newspaper. He is widely regarded as one of Cambodia's best investigative reporters and his stories have been syndicated all over the world.

Sambath has worked for the American Refugee Committee as a paramedic on the Thai-Cambodia border, as a police interpreter for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) and as a human rights investigator for LICADHO, a Cambodian human rights non-governmental organization. Since 1994 he has worked as a producer, translator and camera operator for many world broadcasting organizations, including BBC, WGBH, NHK and NBC. In 2002 he traveled to the United States on a Jefferson Scholarship.

Nuon Chea

Enemies of the People: Nuon Chea

Nuon Chea

Born in 1925 in Battambang, Cambodia and studied law at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Chea joined the Khmer resistance in 1949, leading the urban underground in Phnom Penh in the 1950s. He was appointed deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) in 1960, and he was the deciding vote in the appointment of Pol Pot as secretary of the CPK in 1962. He left the Khmer Rouge as it collapsed in 1998.

Arrested in September 2007, Chea was charged with international crimes, crimes against humanity and, eventually, genocide by the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal. Chea is in prison in Phnom Penh, where he is awaiting trial. The trial began on June 27, 2011.

Enemies of the People: Suon


Joined the Khmer Rouge military wing in 1970 and in 1975 became militia commander in a cooperative in northwest Cambodia. He admits to killing more than 200 Cambodians designated enemies of the people between 1976 and 1978. Since 1979 he has lived as a peasant farmer in northwest Cambodia.

Enemies of the People: Khoun


Joined the Khmer Rouge military wing in 1970. He admits to overseeing the killing of nearly 3,500 people during Khmer Rouge rule. Briefly arrested in 1979 for mass murder, he was released for lack of evidence. He has lived as a peasant farmer in northwest Cambodia since 1979.

Enemies of the People: Sistem Em

Sister Em

Joined the Khmer Rouge political wing in 1973. She worked as a district chief in northwest Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and, in that role, was responsible for ordering many thousands of deaths of suspected enemies of the party. She now lives and works under another name elsewhere in Cambodia, where she is a senior politician in local government.