Maintain peace to avoid return of genocidal regime, PM urges

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Theatrical performance at Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre on the National Day of Remembrance in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on may 20. PHNOM PENH ADMINISTRATION

Prime Minister Hun Sen called on compatriots across the country to maintain peace while building society, family, community and the nation so that the genocidal Democratic Kampuchea regime led by the Khmer Rouge would not return.

Hun Sen made the call on May 20, the National Day of Remembrance held annually to ensure that Cambodians never forget the Pol Pot’s reign of terror from April 17, 1975 to January 6, 1979.

The day commemorates the souls of the more than three million victims who died during the regime’s rule. Cambodians died without medicine, food, freedom, democracy, and without even the inherent right to life, he said.

“In order to make sure this regime never returns, we must participate in maintaining peace, because peace provides every opportunity to develop our society, families, communities and nation further,” Hun Sen said.

The vast majority of Cambodians knew and understand the bitter tragedy that the Cambodian people went through for nearly three decades in the flames of war and tears, slaughter, vandalism, forced evictions, and forced labour, he added.

Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, also said the day was a bitter reminder of the terrible history which every Cambodian remembered, and the pain which the citizen’s of the Kingdom shared.

“On the National Day of Remembrance, we commemorate the lives of the more than three million victims of the genocide and commit to preventing this dark regime from returning to our homeland,” he said.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum also organised a blessing ceremony and a programme to disseminate the project “Compilation of Victims’ Profiles at S-21”, which is dedicated to the victims and builds collective memories of past tragedies at S-21.

The museum’s website said the National Day of Remembrance commemorates the day the Khmer Rouge launched a cooperative plan in the areas under its control, beginning on May 20, 1973, and applied throughout the country during 1975-1979.

In 1983, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea government approved the designation of May 20 as “Day of Anger” to commemorate the tragedy, condemn the atrocities committed in Democratic Kampuchea, and to work together to prevent such a regime from ever gaining power again.

“In 2018, the Royal Government of Cambodia designated May 20 every year as the National Day of Remembrance for the victims of and suffering caused by the crimes of the Democratic Kampuchea regime from April 17, 1975 to January 6, 1979,” it added.

The Bophana Centre, along with the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the American University of Phnom Penh, also screened five short films on May 20.

The films were produced by the Bophana Centre and are part of the “Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archives Preservation and Digitisation” project, which is implemented by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in collaboration with UNESCO in Cambodia with the financial support of the Korea International Cooperation Agency.