The remains of 49 Cambodian soldiers that were repatriated to Cambodia from Vietnam were interred in a stupa at the Koh Thmor X-16 historic military site in Tonlong commune’s Koh Thmor village of Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district.

A ceremonial procession was held on April 2 with Minister of National Defence Tea Banh in attendance as well as members of the Senate and the National Assembly and other government officials, military officers, civil servants and members of the public.

The defence ministry said that construction on the stupa was completed on August 20 last year and it was built specifically to serve as a final resting place and memorial to the Cambodian soldiers who lost their lives fighting to liberate the nation from the Khmer Rouge.

At a press conference following the ceremony, Tea Banh told reporters that bringing home the remains of the soldiers who lost their lives in the struggle for national salvation in order to bury them with honours is a means of commemorating their sacrifice and heroism in liberating Cambodia from Pol Pot’s genocidal regime.

He added that the stupa and other memorial sites also serve as reminders for the younger generation to help educate them about the legacy of Cambodia’s leaders in order to inspire them to do their part in developing the nation.

“It is very necessary for us to undertake these tasks to honour our traditions. Our primary goal was to repatriate the remains of these 49 Cambodian soldiers and we have succeeded in that work,” he stated.

The 49 soldiers were previously interred in a memorial in Vietnam’s Dong Nay province. All of them died in battle in the early days of the attempt by Cambodian salvation forces and the Vietnamese army to liberate the country from Pol Pot’s tyranny.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the repatriation of the remains is an important and valuable way to honour the dead.

He added that it is similar to what other countries have done for their war dead, including Vietnam and the US, both of which have put significant effort into recovering the remains of their soldiers in order to express gratitude for those who had lain down their lives in service to their country.

“I encourage the construction of this stupa, which tells our soldiers who defend us that they are valued and we are proud of them. I also encourage the government to pay close attention to honouring disabled soldiers and veterans living in difficult situations, and to continue to help ease their livelihoods,” he said.