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Heritage body planned

Heritage body planned

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Visitors view exhibits at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum on Wednesday.

Officials to create UNESCO-affiliated preservation committee.

OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said they plan to establish a UNESCO-affiliated committee to preserve documentary information about Cambodia, after the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archives were officially inscribed into UNESCO’s Memory of the World register last week.

At a Memory of the World Programme workshop held in Phnom Penh on Thursday, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem said the government hopes to expand its preservation efforts through the new heritage body.

“Our next step is to think of arranging and establishing the National Committee for World Memory like what other countries have already done, in order to further investigate documentary heritage in Cambodia and ensure the protection and preservation of all archives,” he said.

Launched in 1992, the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme promotes the safeguarding of historical archives and collections around the world.

National Committees for World Memory exist in 64 countries and are responsible for implementing the strategies of the broader UNESCO programme.

Teruo Jinnai, president of UNESCO’s Phnom Penh office, said it was likely the committee would be created soon.
The next international meeting of the Committees for World Memory will be held in Macau in July of 2010, he said.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archives include documents and photographs depicting the fate of the more than 15,000 prisoners held in the compound between 1975 and 1979, during the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

The archives consist of 4,186 confessions, 6,226 biographies of prisoners and 6,147 photographic prints and negatives of prisoners, demolished buildings, research activities, mass graves and remains of victims.

These archives, experts say, constitute the most complete existing documentary picture of the prison system under Democratic Kampuchea, a fundamental part of the regime under which an estimated 2 million people (roughly a quarter of the population) lost their lives during a period of three years, eight months and 20 days.

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