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Nuon Chea (Khmer: នួន ជា; born Lau Kim Korn, 7 July 1926),[3][4] also known as Long Bunruot (Khmer: ឡុង ប៊ុនរត្ន) or Rungloet Laodi (រុងឡឺត ឡាវឌី Thai: รุ่งเลิศ เหล่าดี),[5] is a Cambodian former politician who was the chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge. He also briefly served as acting Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea.

Nuon Chea
Nuon Chea on 31 October 2013.jpg
Nuon Chea on trial.
President of the Standing Committee of the Kampuchean People's Representative Assembly
In office
13 April 1976 – 7 January 1979
PresidentKhieu Samphan
Prime MinisterPol Pot
DeputyChhit Choeun
LeaderPol Pot (General Secretary)
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea
In office
27 September 1976 – 25 October 1976
PresidentKhieu Samphan
LeaderPol Pot (General Secretary)
Preceded byPol Pot
Succeeded byPol Pot
Personal details
Lau Kim Lorn

(1926-07-07) 7 July 1926 (age 92)
Voat Kor, Battambang, French Indochina (now Cambodia)
Political partyCommunist Party of Kampuchea
Spouse(s)Ly Kimseng[1]
ChildrenNuon Say,[2] 2 other children[1]
Alma materThammasat University

He was commonly known as "Brother Number Two" (Khmer: បងធំទី២), as he was second-in-command to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, General Secretary of the Party, during the Cambodian Genocide of 1975–1979. In 2014, Nuon Chea received a life sentence for crimes against humanity, alongside another top-tier Khmer Rouge leader, Khieu Samphan, and a further trial convicted him of the crime of genocide in 2018.


Early lifeEdit

Nuon Chea was born as Lau Kim Lorn at Voat Kor, Battambang in 1926. Nuon's father, Lao Liv, worked as a trader as well as a corn farmer, while his mother, Dos Peanh, was a tailor. An interview by a Japanese researcher in 2003 with Nuon Chea quoted that Liv was Chinese, while Peanh was the daughter of a Chinese immigrant from Shantou and his Khmer wife.[6] In 2011, however, Chea told the Khmer Rouge Tribunal that he was only a quarter Chinese through his half-Chinese father.[7] As a child, Nuon Chea was raised in both Chinese and Khmer customs. The family prayed at a Theravada Buddhist temple, but observed Chinese religious customs during the Lunar New Year and Qingming festival. Nuon Chea started school at seven, and was educated in Thai, French and Khmer.[6]

In the 1940s, Nuon Chea studied law at Thammasat University in Bangkok and worked part-time for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He began his political activities in the Communist Party of Siam in Bangkok.[8] He was elected Deputy General Secretary of the Workers Party of Kampuchea (later renamed as the Communist Party of Kampuchea) in September 1960.[9] In Democratic Kampuchea, he was generally known as "Brother Number Two." Unlike most of the leaders of Khmer Rouge, Chea did not study in Paris.

As documented in the Soviet archives, Nuon Chea played a major role in negotiating the North Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1970, with the intent of forcing the collapse of Lon Nol's government: "In April–May 1970, many North Vietnamese forces entered Cambodia in response to the call for help addressed to Vietnam not by Pol Pot, but by his deputy Nuon Chea. Nguyen Co Thach recalls: "Nuon Chea has asked for help and we have liberated five provinces of Cambodia in ten days." In 1970, in fact, Vietnamese forces occupied almost a quarter of the territory of Cambodia, and the zone of communist control grew several times, as power in the so-called liberated regions was given to the CPK [Khmer Rouge]. At that time relations between Pol Pot and the North Vietnamese leaders were especially warm."[10] The North Vietnamese trusted Nuon Chea more than Pol Pot or Ieng Sary, although Chea "consistently and consciously deceived the Vietnamese principals concerning the real plans of the Khmer leadership." As a result, "Hanoi did not undertake any action to change the power pattern within the top ranks of the Communist Party to their own benefit."[10]


As the recently proclaimed state legislature, the Kampuchean People's Representative Assembly held its first plenary session during 11–13 April 1976, Chea was elected president of its Standing Committee. He briefly held office as acting prime minister when Pol Pot resigned for one month, citing health reasons.[11] According to Dmitry Mosyakov, "In October 1978, Hanoi still believed that 'there were two prominent party figures in Phnom Penh who sympathized with Vietnam—Nuon Chea and the former first secretary of the Eastern Zone, So Phim....Vietnamese hopes that these figures would head an uprising against Pol Pot turned out to be groundless: So Phim perished during the revolt in June 1978, while Nuon Chea, as it is known, turned out to be one of the most devoted followers of Pol Pot—he did not defect to the Vietnamese side....It is difficult to understand why until the end of 1978 it was believed in Hanoi that Nuon Chea was 'their man' in spite of the fact that all previous experience should have proved quite the contrary. Was Hanoi unaware of his permanent siding with Pol Pot, his demands that 'the Vietnamese minority should not be allowed to reside in Kampuchea', his extreme cruelty, as well as of the fact that, 'in comparison with Nuon Chea, people considered Pol Pot a paragon of kindness'?"[10] Nuon Chea was forced to abandon his position as president of the Assembly, along with all others as the Vietnamese captured Phnom Penh in January 1979.

In December 1998, Chea surrendered as part of the last remnants of Khmer Rouge resistance which was based in Pailin near the Thailand border.[12] The government under Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former member of the Khmer Rouge, agreed to forsake attempts to prosecute Chea, a decision that was condemned by Western nations.[13]

Arrest and trialEdit

Chea on trial at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, 5 December 2011
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) finds Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan guilty and gives them both life sentences for crimes against humanity.

On 19 September 2007, 81 year old Chea was arrested at his home in Pailin and flown to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh, which charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity.[14] He has since been held in detention. In February 2008, Chea told the court that his case should be handled according to international standards. He argued that the court should delay proceedings because his Dutch lawyer, Michiel Pestman, had not yet arrived.[15] In May 2013, Chea told the court and the victims' families, "I feel remorseful for the crimes that were committed intentionally or unintentionally, whether or not I had known about it or not known about it."[16] On 7 August 2014, the court convicted Chea of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to imprisonment for the remainder of his life.[17] His lawyer immediately announced that Chea would appeal against his conviction.[18] Chea faced a separate trial for the crime of genocide in the same court.[19][20] The court found him and Khieu Samphan guilty of genocide against the Vietnamese people and the Chams on 16 November 2018.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Provisional Detention Order (Ordonnance de placement en détention provisoire), Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, retrieved 7 August 2009 Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Top Khmer Rouge leader arrested in Cambodia". 19 September 2007.
  3. ^ Profile of Nuon Chea
  4. ^ "NUON Chea". Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Archived copy" รู้หรือไม่? "นวน เจีย" จำเลยฆ่าล้างเผ่าพันธุ์ชาวเขมร เคยเรียนมหาวิทยาลัยใดในเมืองไทย. Matichon (in Thai). 8 July 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b Eiji Murashima, The Young Nuon Chea in Bangkok (1942 1950)and the Communist Party of Thailand: The Life in Bangkok of the Man Who Became “Brother No. 2” in the Khmer Rouge Archived 15 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (Waseda University) No. 12 (March 2009), retrieved 29 October 2013
  7. ^ Sann Rada, Transcript of Trial Proceedings–Case File Nº 002/19-09-2007-ECCC/TC, Day 4–5 December 2011, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, retrieved 29 October 2013
  8. ^ Frings, K. Viviane. Rewriting Cambodian History to 'Adapt' It to a New Political Context: The Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party's Historiography (1979–1991) in Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 31, No. 4. (Oct. 1997), pp. 807–846.
  9. ^ Chandler, David P., Revising the Past in Democratic Kampuchea: When Was the Birthday of the Party?: Notes and Comments, in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 56, No. 2 (Summer, 1983), pp. 288–300.
  10. ^ a b c Dmitry Mosyakov, "The Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese Communists: A History of Their Relations as Told in the Soviet Archives," in Susan E. Cook, ed., Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda Yale Genocide Studies Program Monograph Series No. 1, 2004, p54ff. Available online at:
  11. ^ Susan E. Cook, Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda: new perspectives, Transaction Publishers, 2005, page 62
  12. ^ "Khmer Rouge leaders surrender". BBC News. 26 December 1998. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  13. ^ Mydans, Seth (29 December 1998). "Cambodian leader resists punishing top Khmere Rouge". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Top former Khmer Rouge leader arrested in Cambodia". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 18 September 2007. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
  15. ^ "Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, detained for trial, taken to hospital". International New York Times/HighBeam Research. Associated Press. 4 February 2008. Archived from the original on 27 January 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea expresses 'remorse'". BBC News. 31 May 2013. Archived from the original on 27 April 2014.
  17. ^ McKirdy, Euan (7 August 2014). "Top Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of crimes against humanity, sentenced to life in prison". CNN. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Cambodian court sentences two former Khmer Rouge leaders to life term". BBC News Online. The Cambodia News.Net. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Top Khmer Rouge leaders guilty of crimes against humanity". BBC News. 7 August 2014. Archived from the original on 7 August 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of Cambodia genocide". BBC News. 16 November 2018.
  • Lynch, David J. (21 March 2005). "Cambodians hope justice will close dark chapter". USA Today, p. 14A – 15A
  • Watkin, Huw (30 December 1998). "Guerrillas 'sorry' for genocide". The Australian, p. 8

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