Funds for a museum in Anlong Veng housing 1,200 photos of Cambodia
during the KR period fail to materialise as businesses fear provoking
anger from the local community
Tourists at Phnom Penh's Choeung Ek killing field. Plans for a Khmer Rouge museum in Anlong Veng are on hold due to lack of funding.
PLANS for a museum in Anlong Veng with photo exhibitions from the Khmer Rouge period have stalled as funding for the project shrinks amid fears the exhibit may provoke a negative response from local residents.
Nhem Ein, who survived the regime photographing inmate mug shots at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, bought 27 hectares of land a few kilometres from Anlong Veng's district town with government permission more than two years ago, but says he is now unable to find backers for the project.
"Some Cambodian people were interested in investing at the beginning, but they have hesitated recently, knowing that the Khmer Rouge tribunal is still in process," he said.
"People in the area are worried that it will affect their businesses."
The museum, which was estimated to cost around US$320,000, hoped to receive money from businesses and NGOs.
"Now, I have a large piece of land for a museum but no money to build one," he said.
According to Nhem Ein, his photo archive includes around 1,200 photos of regime leaders Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ta Mok, Son Sen, Ieng Sary and others.
He also has video footage donated by Cambodians and foreigners.
"I am disappointed, and I am very sorry because my project for years has still not come about," he said.
"If no organisations will assist me, I will be forced to sell part of my land."
Besides exhibiting photos of former Khmer Rouge leaders, Nhem Ein has plans to build a canal, dam and cooperative hall with images of
farmers to show people what Cambodia looked like under the regime.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said that his centre could assist Nhem Ein administratively once the museum was up and running, but would provide no funding.
"Our centre has no funding to support the building of the museum, but we will help organise seminars and exhibitions once the museum is built," Youk Chhang said.
"This museum is an important step towards national reconciliation and helping people in Anlong Veng," he added.
Nhem Ein said the museum "will give a new generation the opportunity to learn about this time in history".
Anlong Veng, in northern Cambodia, remained a refuge of the final remnants of the Khmer Rouge until the late 1990s.