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School children examine a new genocide memorial sign at a high school in Kampot province
School children examine a new genocide memorial sign at a high school in Kampot province’s Chum Kiri district yesterday. DC-CAM

Genocide memorial unveiled

A new genocide memorial, built following the request of a schoolteacher, will be inaugurated at a high school in Kampot’s Chum Kiri district today.

The memorial is part of the Genocide Education Project (GEP), a joint initiative between the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport that aims to bridge students’ learning gap by teaching them the history of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian genocide.

The iron memorial at the Hun Sen Ang Chork High School will be the 18th that DC-Cam has inaugurated at a secondary school in the country.

But according to GEP coordinator Mam Sovann, what makes the one in Kampot different is the fact that it was Samrith Boret, a teacher in the high school, who requested to have it built.

“This is the first time that a teacher has come up to us [and asked us] to construct a genocide monument like this,” Sovann said. “And I think it shows how people are becoming more accepting and willing to learn our history.”

Boret, 47, was less than 10-years-old when he witnessed the atrocities carried out by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.

“I remember and saw what happened,” Boret explained. “So I thought it would be important for students to clearly understand our history in the Khmer Rouge regime, because some don’t believe what happened.”

Along with students, Boret helped DC-Cam raise more than $400 for the monument.

He also wrote the two slogans inscribed on the memorial. One of them reads: “Talking about experiences during the Khmer Rouge regime is to promote reconciliation and to educate children about forgiveness and tolerance”.

During the inauguration, the NGO will distribute 900 books about the Khmer Rouge to students. “Once students get the books and read them, they will understand more why we have a lot of suffering,” Boret said.

According to Sovann, DC-Cam and the Education Ministry are continuing fundraising efforts in hopes of building more genocide memorials in the nation’s high schools.

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