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Choeung Ek to be refurbished

Choeung Ek to be refurbished

OFFICIALS have approved a plan for restoring the memorial stupa at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre that focuses largely on minor aesthetic improvements.

At a meeting Wednesday, officials from the centre, City Hall and the municipal Department of Culture and Fine Arts discussed steps that should be taken to improve the stupa, namely repairing the roof and clearing out dust and spider webs, said Ros Sophearavy, the centre’s deputy director.

Ros Sophearavy emphasised that no dramatic alterations to the stupa were included in the plan.

“We will preserve the original style, and we will not change it,” she said.

She said that the restoration process would begin “very soon”, but could not say how long it would last or how much it would cost. She said that visits from tourists would not be disrupted.

Located in Dangkor district, Choeung Ek is the site at which thousands of inmates from Tuol Sleng, the most notorious Khmer Rouge detention facility, were executed, often with a blow to the back of the head with an oxcart axle.

Construction of the memorial stupa began in 1988, and it was inaugurated in 1989 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge to Vietnamese-backed forces.

The stupa contains 8,985 skulls.
In 2005, City Hall signed a 30-year contract handing over management of the site to JC Royal Co, a Japanese firm.

The contract is set to be reevaluated next May, Chour Sukty, the museum’s director, said yesterday.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, yesterday reiterated his position that the arrangement with JC Royal should be terminated so that Cambodia could manage the site.

“I think the government should take it back,” he said.

“Based on the experience from the past, I think Cambodians want to preserve their own memory.

“If there is a chance to get it back, City Hall should take it back.”

But Chour Sokty said that cooperation between the museum and JC Royal was smooth, and that he believed the arrangement would remain in place until the 30-year contract expired.

“We use the name of the company, but we manage it ourselves,” Chour Sokty said. “We never have any problem, so we will just go on and on.”

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