Cambodia remembers Pol Pot genocide

Hundreds of Cambodians mark 'Day of Anger' to remember those who were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Cambodians gather to commemorate hundreds of thousands of people who were killed by the Khmer Rouge regime in Phnom Penh's Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, known as the Killing Fields, more than four decades ago.

During the Buddhist ceremony, students mimicked the crimes of Pol Pot during the 1975-1979 regime, while hundreds of people watching them with tears.

The genocidal Khmer Rouge regime killed nearly two million people, almost the third of the country's population, in four years from starvation, slave labor, torture and execution. It abolished religion, schools and currency, reset the calendar to 'Year Zero' in order to ‘transform’ the country, opening deep wounds in the society that have left deep marks even today.

At the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, where the remains of Maoist regime's many victims lie, Cambodians recounted painful and unforgettable memories.

“For many survivors, this painful memory remains a nightmare that continues to disturb their peace of mind and haunt them in their dreams,” the executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia Youk Chhang said in a statement.

"The re-enactment reminded me the sadness and of much suffering because I lived through so many obstacles until today. I remembered all of my sufferings and I will never forget it," a survivor of the regime, in Chanthul told Reuters.

After 40 years, only two senior Khmer Rouge's leaders -Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan- were given life sentences by the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal, but they appealed.

The slow judicial process also causes resentment among Cambodians, who lost at least one family member during the reign of Pol Pot terror.

The Vietnamese forces overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 but Pol Pot, the number one leader of the regime, continued to fight until 1997 when he was arrested by former colleagues. He was under house arrest until his death on April 15, 1998.

TRTWorld and agencies