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At villagers’ request, chief pledges to preserve Khmer Rouge canteen

At villagers’ request, chief pledges to preserve Khmer Rouge canteen

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The Rong Bay canteen in Sray village, which residents want to preserve for younger generations, is an example of Khmer Rouge-era architecture and cultural practices.

A VILLAGE chief in Banteay Meanchey province has agreed to preserve a Khmer Rouge-era canteen that has recently shown increasing signs of deterioration.

Vy Chhloun, the chief of Svay village, Thmar Pouk district, said he planned to raise money from the more than 400 local families that had specifically requested repairs earlier this month.

The 7-by-10-metre communal canteen is currently missing several wooden panels. Pieces of the zinc roof have also fallen off in recent months, villagers said.

“Now we want this canteen to be preserved so that the younger generation will be able to see something left over from the Pol Pot regime,” said Tum Chhick, 52.

He said the canteen had been built in 1976.

Another villager, Sean Chhoeum, 60, said the canteen was “a place that reminded hundreds of people of the hunger they felt when they were not given enough food by the Khmer Rouge”.

Since the regime fell from power, however, villagers have used the canteen for religious festivals and other ceremonies, he said.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), said Tuesday that he could not provide the total number of canteens that had been built by the Khmer Rouge, but he noted that communal eating had been widespread. He said he supported the preservation of the canteen to remind people of the suffering of those who survived the regime.

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