The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has fashioned nearly 10,000 old and damaged weapons into elephants, trucks, maps and clocks to be kept at the Peace Museum of Mine Action in Siem Reap province. It will help future generations learn about the violence of the civil war era.
CMAC director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Thursday that it had taken more than 9,000 decommissioned guns to transform them into animal figures and other creations to be kept at the museum.
“We wanted to keep the old guns and recycle them into other objects as a non-violent response to Cambodia’s troubled past."
“We have modified the guns to fashion them into elephants, trees, maps and clocks. Our main goal is to display the weapons in a peaceful way,” Ratana said.
He said they had decided to keep the weapons for future generations because if they were destroyed, the evidence and truth of the past would not be visible to young people.
“CMAC took all kinds of defunct mines and weapons unearthed across Cambodia to put on public display at the Peace Museum of Mine Action, and its goal is to continue modifying more in future,” Ratana said.
Ratana wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday that three elephants had been made out of almost 5,000 damaged guns to form the centrepiece of the art collection.
“I thank you for striving to improve the image of the Peace Museum. The elephant figures will stand on display to help younger generations understand the materials used in the violence of the Kingdom’s civil war,” he wrote.
The elephant artworks have been named Elephant of Peace Made With Light Weapons I, II and III, Ratana said.
He said the Peace Museum of Mine Action, which is managed by CMAC, was the first and remains the largest museum in Cambodia dealing with mine clearance and unexploded ordnance.
The museum is a centre for research into Cambodia’s past, he said, covering topics such as the history of war, military strategy and the history of mine clearance and elimination of all unexploded ordnance which was dropped or buried during the civil war over nearly four decades.
It also highlights the history of peace-making and the Kingdom’s development after the civil war ended.
Peace Museum of Mine Action director Phat Phearak said through an agreement with the National Police, CMAC acquired more than 10,000 broken and decommissioned weapons and unexploded ordnance in order to recycle them into statues of animals and other objects for the benefit of the nation.
“What we are creating is aimed at highlighting peace by displaying these artworks. The sculptures were made by CMAC officials. For two years since it opened, local and international tourists have been able to visit the museum free of charge,” Phearak said.