Alongside the killings were a wave of arrests - 564 by the CPP's own count - that culminated in the establishment of six detention centers in Kandal province. Officially described as holding "illegally recruited soldiers" or "Khmer Rouge" elements, the facilities were mainly used to detain members of army units commanded by FUNCINPEC officers. The largest of the facilities, at Ang Snuol district, held nearly 200 soldiers, as well as about thirty family members, including ten children. The second largest facility, at Kandal Stoeng district, held 165 persons including eight women and eleven children. Four other detention centers in Kandal at various times held between twenty and fifty soldiers each. In addition, thirty-one FUNCINPEC soldiers were held in a prison in Prey Veng province.
Most of the soldiers were subsequently regrouped at the former FUNCINPEC military base at Tang Kasaing. A visit to the base by the UNCHR indicated that at least thirty were tortured while in custody. All thirty had been captured by the Indonesian-trained Regiment 911 and held in a detention facility at the Kambol military base west of Phnom Penh, in an extremely hot, windowless six-by-two meter cell. The soldiers were beaten and kicked, had their fingers squeezed in a metal appliance, and were forced to drink sewage water. The UNCHR photographed torture marks on the fingers and backs of many of the men.
Nearly all of the detainees at Tang Kasaing have since been released and, in most cases, told to return to their units. However, investigators informed Human Rights Watch that a large number of other detainees remain unaccounted for, including many ranking officers who were taken into custody and, in some cases, entire units. The investigators based their preliminary conclusions on interviews with detainees, as well as discrepancies between the total number of announced detainees and the number who were regrouped at Tang Kasaing.
Aside from the detention of hundreds of pro-FUNCINPEC soldiers, senior FUNCINPEC officials have been arrested throughout the country as well. Human rights investigators documented the arrests and detention of thirty-one party officials in Prey Veng, twenty in Kompong Speu, and seven in Kompong Cham. They told Human Rights Watch that most have since been freed. But there were also unconfirmed reports of one hundred to 200 arrests of party officials in Siem Reap province whose fates remain uncertain. The CPP itself denies having arrested any non-soldiers.
Although no journalists are known to have been arrested since the coup, a range of intimidatory tactics - including police visits to their homes and offices, overt surveillance, and in one case, severance of their phone lines - has led to an effective shutdown of the once-flourishing opposition press. Khmer Journalists Association co-president Pin Samkhon, himself in exile in Bangkok, told Human Rights Watch that about ten journalists have fled the country. 20 They include the editors of two frequently embattled opposition newspapers, Ou Sovann of Samleng Yuvachun Khmer ("Voice of Khmer Youth") and Nguonn Nonn of Damning Pel Prek ("Morning News"), as well as Voice of America correspondent Sam Sattana. In addition several journalists are in hiding, and a few others haveescaped to opposition-held territory near the Thai border. One independent Khmer-language paper that remains in print, Kampuchea Tgnay Nih ("Cambodia Today"), has been advised by the Information Ministry to be "balanced" in its coverage.21
20 Human Rights Watch interview with Pin Samkhon, July 17, 1997, Bangkok.
21 Agence France-Presse, "One Opposition Paper in Print," The Straits Times, July 17, 1997.