The government has allocated a plot of land for the construction of a permanent Documentation Center of Cambodia. According to plans, the new DC-Cam building will symbolically be placed near the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
Since 1995, DC-Cam has collected documentation and evidence about the Khmer Rouge regime at a discreet location near the Independence Monument. Government approval is an important step on the way to establishing a more prominent memorial to the victims of KR atrocities, that at the same time is dedicated to further research and education.
For years, this has been a dream of DC-Cam Director, Youk Chhang.
"Since the day I left Cambodia [in the 1980s], my heart is always with this project," says Chhang, who returned to his country in 1995 to set up DC-Cam.
"Having a permanent center focusing on genocide study is the only way to prevent the return of the genocide to Cambodia and other parts of the world. It will be the only way to keep the prevention alive, and it is also the only way that the memory of genocide victims will be respected."
Apart from its current function as research facility and repository for DC-Cam's more than 350,000 pages of documentation, the new building will also house a public museum displaying photographs, manuscripts and video tapes.
Chhang plans to host an architectural competition for the design of the new DC-Cam. Departments of Architecture at the universities of Yale, Oxford and Cambridge have already agreed to participate.
Also, contributions from the Cambodian School of Architecture and Fine Arts and an already finished proposal from local contractor Paul Redfern will be among the 12 competing design plans.
According to Chhang, some scholars have already offered to donate their archives to the new DC-Cam, but funding for the construction has not yet been secured. However,
Chhang remains optimistic that the total budget of $3-5 million can be obtained from DC-Cam's regular and new donors.
"I have informed many foreign embassies, King Sihanouk and the Cambodian government.
Everyone praised the project and supported the plan," says Chhang.
At the same time, Chhang is working to set up close connections with the Documentation Center for War Crimes in the Hague, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the US, that may provide continuous funding for the operation of the new DC-Cam.
"After all, this is not just about Cambodia. It's about humanity," points out Chhang.
He aims to see the new permanent DC-Cam finished and operational by 2003.