Call for short stories on happier times during Khmer Rouge era

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The Khmer Writers Association and the Documentation Centre of Cambodia are running a short story competition looking for happier memories of life under the Khmer Rouge. Khmer Writers Association

The Khmer Writers Association is collaborating with the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) to organise a short story competition on the topic of life under the Khmer Rouge, with the winner receiving the Sleuk Rith Literature Award.

To preserve the historical record of Cambodians during the Pol Pot regime and promote Khmer literature, the story must be about the everyday lives of Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge.

“Contestants wishing to enter should write an original composition about the daily lives of Cambodians in Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea.

“However, the story should not focus on genocide,” the Khmer Writers Association said in an announcement obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

The association said the story should be between five and 15 pages long if typed on a computer, or 10 to 20 pages if handwritten.

Handwritten submissions must be on A4 paper, and typed entries should use Khmer OS Siem Reap font, size 12, with no header or footer.

The competition is open to anyone who can write in the Khmer language, whether they are Cambodian of foreigners.

The entries can be written by first-hand survivors of Pol Pot’s regime or anyone who has been told real-life stories of that time by those who lived through it.

The announcement said that next year, 10 outstanding short stories will receive certificates and cash prizes, with the best receiving the Sleuk Rith Literature Award.

The 10 best submissions will be published and could be made into short films or songs.

Entry is now open and short stories should be submitted by 5pm on November 30 via email to the Khmer Writers Association at [email protected].

Som Bunthorn, the editor-in-chief of DC-Cam’s monthly magazine Searching for the Truth, said on Wednesday that the competition was also aimed at evaluating young people’s understanding of Cambodian history and life under the Khmer Rouge regime.

“This contest will also be a platform for older people to share their experiences with the younger generation. We would like to receive true stories of life under the Pol Pot regime that don’t focus on the killing but demonstrate hope, resilience and happiness.

“Stories should emphasise not cruel acts, but anything people can remember or have been told about everyday experiences and the day-to-day reality of that time.

“We hope the stories encourage reconciliation among Cambodians who had experienced society during that era,” Bunthorn said.