Learning about the Khmer Rouge is significant for people, especially the young generation, who should be aware of what happened in the past during that terrible regime. They need to be aware to prevent future conflicts and genocide as well as to promote reconciliation in Cambodia. Reading, telling and listening to someone’s stories are significant ways to learn. Through the Documentation Center of Cambodia’s (DC-Cam) February forum in Banteay Meanchey province in which students, their parents and teachers participated, the young generation learned from the survivors who spoke about their experiences during the Khmer Rouge regime.
One of the participants was Kim Sopheak, 26, a high school biology teacher in Malai district. Some of his students are children of survivors and former Khmer Rouge cadres. Sopheak did not know much about the Khmer Rouge regime. What Sopheak heard was that the Khmer Rouge were bad because they killed people. However, he treated all his students fairly and equally.
Sopheak’s parents who experienced the Khmer Rouge regime often told him about their experiences. But Sopheak still needed to learn more about what happened at that time. The news of the DC-Cam public forum attracted him and he joined it. He said history belongs to everyone.
“Children of victims and former Khmer Rouge cadres need to learn about the Khmer Rouge regime. It is everyone’s sadness and it is the country’s sadness,” said Sopheak.
At the forum, Sopheak learned through reading and sharing the experiences between survivors and DC-Cam staff. “This is the first time I saw the book History of Democratic Kampuchea. I read it briefly and it really attracted me. The survivors asked very good questions and I learned a lot from those questions,” he said.
It is believed that this forum can encourage the young generation to talk to their parents and for parents to talk to their children about the Khmer Rouge regime.