Cambodia on May 20 is observing the National Day of Remembrance, dedicated to the people who were murdered or lost their lives during the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime that lasted from April 17, 1975 to January 6, 1979.

May 20 refers to the day in 1976 when the Khmer Rouge started their mass killings. The day was previously known as the National Day of Hatred – although perhaps better translated from the Khmer name as “Day of Harboured Anger”.

“This day is dedicated to the souls of the more than three million people who lost their lives during the Pol Pot genocidal regime,” said a post on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s official Facebook page.

“The vast majority of Cambodians are well aware of and understand the tragic plight that befell the people across nearly three decades in the flames of war, tears, slaughter, destruction, compulsory evacuations and forced labour – where they were worked like animals.

“Not only that, but Cambodians also died due to a lack of medicines and insufficient food, with no freedom or democracy. They were not even granted the right to life – a fundamental birth right.

“To prevent the return of such a regime, we all have to do our part to maintain the peace, because peace gives us all the opportunity to build families and communities, as well as the country, to ensure greater prosperity down the road,” the post said.

A commemoration ceremony will also be organised by the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre in Dangkor district.