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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Staged killings stir victims' emotions on Day of Anger

Staged killings stir victims' emotions on Day of Anger

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Hundreds gather to watch staged dramatisations of Khmer Rouge crimes at Choeung Ek for Day of Anger remembrance ceremony.

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

At Choeung Ek on Wednesday, Chum Choy, 69, recalls witnessing her husband's death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

ABOUT 1,000 people gathered at Choeung Ek killing fields Wednesday morning to watch performers stage re-enactments of Khmer Rouge crimes as part of the national Day of Anger commemoration.

Students from the Royal University of Fine Arts acted out torture and killing scenes as part of a traditional annual ceremony to commemorate those who died under the Khmer Rouge regime.

"This is to remind the world to make sure this kind of regime never happens again and that those perpetrators must be brought to justice," Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said in a speech during the ceremony.

The performance was watched by survivors of the regime as well as about 200 Buddhist monks who attended the service.

Clad in black and wearing kramas, the actors dramatised scenes of torture, starvation, forced labour and killing, stirring emotions in many of the victims.

"No family who survived the Pol Pot era made it through without the loss of a family member," Chim Kim, 71, a villager who had travelled from her home in Dangkor district to attend the ceremony, told the Post.

"When my husband was taken away, they told me that he would just be re-educated," Chim Kim said, referring to the regime's policy of indoctrination.

"But the fact is that they killed him and accused him of being a Lon Nol commander," she said, adding that four of her children were also arrested and detained at a prison camp.  

"They beat and starved them until they died," she said. "I saw them beat my children with my own eyes."

Speed trials up: governor

Kep Chuktema used the proceedings to urge the Khmer Rouge tribunal to speed up its proceedings, saying that verdicts would stop people's anger.

"We urge the Khmer Rouge tribunal to speed up the process of prosecuting suspects so that we can provide justice to the victims of the regime," he said.

Kep Chuktema added that the five former leaders detained at the war crimes court "must receive the same punishment that they gave to the victims".

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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