Koica, Unesco to hold genocide event

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Visitors at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. A three-day international conference organised by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) is to kick off on Wednesday to share experiences on genocide, memory and peace in Cambodia. POST PIX

A three-day international conference organized by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) with Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA), and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (TSGM) will kick-off on Wednesday to share experiences on genocide, memory and peace in Cambodia.

The conference is to start with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Cheung Ek Killing Field.

This will be followed by a discussion at the capital’s Ecumenical Diakonia Centre on Thursday, with the event to wrap up at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra hotel on Friday.

Some 150 people from Cambodia and abroad, including the acting South Korean ambassador to Cambodia, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture Chuch Phoeurn and relevant NGOs, are to attend.

“The objective of the conference is to share experiences on the management of genocide-related digitised archives.

“It will allow the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to network with national bodies with activities related to Khmer Rouge history and peace-building initiatives, as well as similar institutions around the world,” Koica said.

The conference also aims to exchange international perspectives on the ethical challenges brought about by the digitisation of archives related to mass murder and genocide, it added.

“The conference will raise awareness about an event of immense historical significance for Cambodia and the world, and provide a platform to promote genocide education and peace building and reconciliation,” Koica said.

The conference is part if the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archives Preservation and Digitisation Project, which is financially supported by Koica.

Koica said it had donated $1.15 million to the five-year project, which was scheduled to be completed this year.

It said some 400,000 pages of documents will have been digitised at Tuol Sleng.

“With this conference, I look forward to seeing the achievements of the project we have been working on with Unesco and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

“I also think that we can see at the museum what the project has achieved so far,” said Ji Yeakyung, the deputy country director of Koica Cambodia.

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An exhibition shows portraits of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. Post staff

She said the digitisation of documents in the Tuol Sleng archives and the preservation of the originals by building a temperature and humidity controlled space had been completed.

This year, she said the project team had reinforced the museum’s website and database.

“I look forward to Cambodian people researching the Khmer Rouge regime through our project to get concrete information regarding what happened.

“People can prevent such a regime from occurring again by learning how to compromise peacefully and strengthen peace in Cambodia,” Ji said.

Chhang Youk, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), said history should be studied to appreciate and critically reflect upon past ideas, people and institutions.

“History can lay the foundations for hope, inspiration and kinship, and it can be harnessed as an educational tool to explain the errors, shortcomings and evils of society.

“History forces nations to acknowledge the suffering perpetrated in the name of religion, culture and country, and it forces individuals to confront the horrors that can emerge within all societies,” he said.