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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ASEAN should lead the EU on innovative genocide education

ASEAN should lead the EU on innovative genocide education

I agree with European Union Ambassador Jean-François Cautain that the EU and ASEAN should cooperate further to advance prosperity and security (EU, ASEAN: natural partners, July 23).

In my opinion, prosperity and security in ASEAN lie in moral education, an awareness of atrocities happening in the region and the education of younger generations across the region on genocide in Cambodia to create a model for the protection of people in the future. Because genocide in Cambodia was different from the Holocaust, ASEAN should lead the way in genocide education content and methodologies, as well as the regional standardisation of genocide education programs.

Even with all the experience of genocide across Europe in the past century, most notably the Armenian death march, Stalin’s mass famine in Ukraine and the Holocaust, the EU has not established a standardised genocide education methodology that serves the central concept that genocide is a crime against humanity.

ASEAN has the opportunity to lead the EU in this by being the first regional association to deliver moral lessons across member states. This program should be included in a new ASEAN world plan on education, recognising the plight that Cambodian people faced from 1975 to 1979 and to some extent the suffering of the people of East Timor between 1975 and 1999.

Since ASEAN was created in 1967, the region has experienced civil war and genocide resulting in millions of deaths. The most notable war was in Indochina, and the genocide which happened was the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities perpetrated against its own people.

Even in this case of genocide, it is different from the Holocaust, the victims and perpetrators of which were clearly defined and which happened within a global conflict. In Cambodia, the genocide happened within a regional conflict in an atmosphere of noninterference by other members of ASEAN.

Security and economic cooperation in ASEAN will become meaningless if atrocities happen in a member state while other members act only as bystanders.

Kok-Thay Eng
Deputy director,
Documentation Center of Cambodia

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