Prime Minister Hun Manet has urged stakeholders to continue to support educational outreach programmes about the history of genocide in Cambodia so that researchers and the public can better understand it.

He also called for a consensus on documents and a clear interpretation of the history of the Cambodian genocide to ensure that it is not forgotten.

Manet highlighted the importance of international recognition for the sake of historical remembrance and education on the genocide which took place during the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-79, as well as the strengthening and maintenance of peace and national unity going forward.

“I call for continued support from all stakeholders in genocide education, especially through the preservation and use of the more than two million pages of archives collected from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, so that researchers and the general public in the region and the world can better understand the history of genocide in Cambodia and the prevention of such crimes, and lead to the creation of a future without genocide,” he said. 

During the opening ceremony of the first conference on “Cambodia's Future Without Genocide, Protecting and Responding through Education and Health Care", held on May 20 in Phnom Penh, he highlighted the need for Cambodia as a nation to agree on its history, saying the future of a nation is reliant on its willingness to face the past.

Manet noted that a country must agree upon an interpretation of the past and major historical events. To recount the history of the genocide in Cambodia, it is a must to acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime. 

“We cannot support an argument which protects them from such heinous crimes against humanity,” he said.

“There is a need for consensus on documents and clear interpretation so that Cambodians understand and remember clearly without ambiguity about this bitter history. If there is no unity in our nation, or any misunderstanding of our history, the younger generations may not know it well. Remembering our true history is not to about focusing on the evils and darkness of history, but to ensure we know what to avoid, so we will not be dragged into war again,” he added.

The prime minister explained that facing the past is a serious emotional burden for Cambodia due to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime and the decades-long suffering of the Cambodian people. He highlighted that facing the past does not have to focus only on tragedies, but that the Cambodian people should take heart from the fact that they and their nation have survived and grown stronger.

Manet noted Cambodia is a model for other countries around the world that are experiencing similar problems, adding that the Kingdom’s genocide educational outreach programmes are a remarkable achievement on the international stage and could be used as a lesson for the development of other post-conflict nations.

He called on all future leaders of Cambodia to refrain from engaging in political plans that promote undemocratic regime change and to adhere to a sense of responsibility in maintaining peace.

The prime minister also stressed that Cambodia will continue to defend itself against malicious fabrications aiming at tarnishing Cambodia’s image and against any attempt to plunge Cambodia into the trap of geopolitics rivalry which transformed Cambodia into one of the battlefields of the Cold War.

Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) director Chhang Youk also addressed the event.

He said Cambodia’s capacity to achieve a future free of genocide depends largely on its courage in the face of its history as well as turning all the lessons it has learned into meaningful strategies for the future.

“This first conference is a vital step towards a long journey. The team organising this event aims to create a transitional community by bringing together experts on human rights and genocide prevention in post-conflict society,” said Youk, who is also the founder of the Queen Mother Library.

“They can share creative insights and best practices to build sustainable peace in Cambodia and other societies. Today’s conference is the first of its kind. It will serve as a foundation for these networks,” he added.