Students, monks and government officials yesterday gathered at the Choeung Ek killing fields on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to watch re-enactments of Khmer Rouge atrocities marking Cambodia’s annual Day of Anger against the hard-line communist regime.
Re-enactors clad in black played Khmer Rouge cadres wielding rifles, bamboo sticks and knives as they acted out killings at the notorious site, the resting place of the remains of thousands of Cambodians killed by the regime, including prisoners from the S-21 prison centre.
“We are here to pay respect to the victims who died, and to appeal for justice. And we are starting to see that justice for the victims already since we joined with the UN to put the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime on trial, and spirit of the victims is calming,” said Socheatvong.
Attendee Oth Yong, 76, from Kandal province, said the judicial process against surviving Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea had indeed helped her reconcile herself to the loss of loved ones under the regime.
“I come each year to pay respect to the spirits of the victims, including my family, because I receive more justice and forgiveness now that the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge are in jail,” Yong said.
However, the Day of Anger isn’t without controversy. It has been the target of criticism in the past, with some saying the event is used as a propaganda ploy by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which is always eager to remind voters of its ties to the Vietnamese invasion that toppled the Khmer Rouge.