The Documentation Centre of Cambodia has completed the film “Mass Grave Near Pagoda”, which tells the story of two cousins, Lieb and Vaing, struggling with the fact that their father and uncle, respectively, was killed during by Kin, who now works as a lay monk at the local Pagoda, during the Khmer Rouge regime.
A few years after the Khmer Rouge fell from power, Kin confessed to the crime allowing Lieb to find her father’s grave.
Lieb’s father’s grave, which is near the pagoda where Kin works, is one of 20,000 mass graves that the Khmer Rouge left behind. Kin is one of thousands of Khmer Rouge soldiers who survived the regime.
While some followed the Khmer Rouge leaders to the border, others, like Kin, become monks or lay monks with whom victims now come to pray for a good life and also to seek healing.
Even though Kin is responsible for the death of Lieb’s father and Vaing’s uncle, due to his status as a Buddhist lay monk, he is treated with respect by the people in his village, including Lieb and Vaing.
Along with other villagers, Lieb and Vaing gather at Kin’s pagoda to celebrate religious ceremonies for their deceased relatives.
Like other survivors, who rarely seek revenge against their perpetrators, Lieb and Vaing don’t seek revenge against Kin. Nevertheless, it is doubtful that they could ever forgive the man responsible for their family member’s death.
Lieb and Vaing rely on Buddha’s precepts. “I do not ask my brother to seek revenge [against Kin] since it would cause more bloodshed,” Lieb says. As such, the Christian sense of forgiveness is impossible because perpetrators can never escape Karma in this life or the next.
Unlike Kin, most Khmer Rouge perpetrators do not confess to what they have done. However, tolerance exists, and some perpetrators face up to their past mistakes. The story of Kin, Lieb and Vaing is one example of victims and perpetrators can live side by side in communities across the Kingdom.
“Mass Grave Near Pagoda,” produced by Ratanak Leng, can be seen on Youtube or the DC-Cam website (below). Metahouse will host a public screening next month.