As Cambodians observed the National Day of Remembrance on May 20 to remember the hardships they endured under the Khmer Rouge regime, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the protection of the present peace that prevents its return.
In a May 20 social media post, Hun Sen noted that the day was an opportunity for all Cambodians to reflect on the dark period of Democratic Kampuchea, which lasted from April 17, 1975 to January 7, 1979.
“On this day, we mourn for the souls of the more than three villain innocent victims of the genocidal Pol Pot and his twisted rule,” he said.
“In order to ensure the cruel regime never returns, we all play our part in protecting the peace, because it provides us with the opportunity to bring prosperity to our families, our society and the nation,” he added.
All state institutions marked the National Day of Remembrance to remember the souls of those who died during the “darkest three years, eight months and 20 days” of the Kingdom’s long history.
In Phnom Penh, the Central Committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) invited 180 monks to pray for the souls of the victims at the Choeung Ek Genocide Centre in Dangkor district’s Choeung Ek commune. The event was presided over by governor Khuong Sreng and attended by about 6,000 members of the Central Committee, civil servants and members of the public.
The event also staged re-enactments of the dreadful scenes that took place in the killing fields of Choeung Ek, with actors playing the roles of the black-clad Khmer Rouge soldiers who perpetrated a genocide on their own people.
In addition, several key ministries and national institutions took to social media to remember the countless known and unknown victims of the hated regime.
Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou observed the day at Wat Samrong Knong pagoda, where the disinterred bones and skulls of many victims are preserved in a stupa.
“Today serves as a memorial to the more than three million victims who lost their lives under Pol Pot’s genocidal regime,” he said.
He explained that the vast majority of Cambodians have a clear understanding of the bitter tragedy that overtook their ancestral land, when they were swept up in the flames of war, separated from their families and forced to work “like animals”.
He said that in addition to the countless murders perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, many people died due to starvation and a total lack of medication.
“They had no freedom, no democracy and not even the right to life, the most fundamental of human rights,” he added.
He called on the public to work together to preserve the current peace, so the Kingdom could continue to grow.