Khmer Krom: Memorial To Heal Past Atrocities
Thirty years after the Khmer Rouge executed thousands of Cambodians on a sugarcane field in Pursat, the Documentation Centre of Cambodia [DC-Cam] announced that a new memorial stupa will be built by the community with its assistance.
DC-Cam members and about 500 villagers from Pursat's Bakan district gathered next to that same field last Sunday, DC-Cam director Youk Chhang said, adding that it was then that he decided to help build a memorial to replace one that had rotted away.
On his return to Phnom Penh, he said he contacted Columbia University's architecture school for assistance.
More than 2,000 Khmer Krom were killed by the Khmer Rouge at the site, along with thousands more Cambodians brought from the Eastern District, Youk Chhang said .
The Cambodians from the Eastern District who tried to escape "ran to the houses of villagers, hoping to be saved. But they were killed right there by the villagers," he said.
This, he said, has led to lingering anger he hopes the memorial will help ease.
But Youk Chhang's interest in the site is also personal. His sister, a niece, nephew and brother-in-law all died in that commune.
"My sister was accused of eating stolen food," he said.
"So they brought my sister to the hospital where they cut her open to see if the food was there."
When Youk Chhang gave a speech to the Pursat community on August 2 , he was facing that very hospital.
The Rumleach commune chief, Ouk Chanmuon, said the memorial will also educate the village's youths.
"It will be a historic place for the younger generations to learn about the place where a lot of people were killed during the Pol Pot regime," he said.