Aide of former King provides a ‘tonne’ of historical documents

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Former personal secretary of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, Julio A Jelres (second left),provided new documents on contemporary Cambodian history to DC-Cam on Friday. DC-CAM

Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) director Youk Chhang considers the new documents on contemporary Cambodian history, especially during Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea regime provided by Julio A Jelres as very valuable.

Jelres was the former personal secretary and history writer of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and senior researcher at Monash University’s School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies.

It is a historical document, Chhang said, and important for the current society, especially for the public, researchers, students and teachers to use. He made his comments after DC-Cam received the documents from Jelres.

Chhang said among the documents DC-Cam received on Friday were books, pictures, films, photographs, CDs, picture frames and study documents on the Khmer Rouge which weighed over a tonne.

The historical documents will contribute to the education of youths, research studies, and public interest, and help increase the effectiveness of teaching Khmer history.

He said: “We will maintain the documents as digital copies and distribute them to our research groups which cooperate with the Ministry of Education in six centres in Cambodia.

“We will also copy them on computers for online distribution so the public can see and read them. We will maintain the original documents rather than provide analyses of them, so the public, students and teachers will find it easier to carry out research.”

He said: “All documents related to Pol Pot are valuable as they make us understand better as to why there was a Pol Pot regime that took power and killed about two million people.

“This document is part of the whole story. So it has a historical value and is valuable for our current society.”

He also said the historical documents had their source from the foreign ministry and research institutions in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Jelres said he had been interested in Cambodia since he was young and began researching Cambodian history from famous people around the world.

He said the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk was the first to provide him with archives. He had spent more than 50 years carrying out research, and was particularly interested in Cambodian history, especially the ancient temples, monarchy and the close communication between the late King Father and his subjects.

Jelres said: “I am providing the documents to DC-Cam because it is the only centre that has human resources to maintain historical records that benefit researchers and students in Cambodia.”