The Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) launched its new multimedia website on Friday, specifically aimed at educating and informing Cambodia’s youth about the Khmer Rouge regime.
The website is aimed at shedding light on Cambodia’s darkest period of history, drawing from DC-Cam’s extensive photographic, audiovisual and witness testimony archive to paint a vivid picture young Cambodians can explore on their smartphones.
“Cambodia will never escape its history, but it does not need to be enslaved by it,” Youk Chhang, executive director of DC-Cam said in a statement. “A society cannot know itself if it does not have an accurate memory of its own history.”
The site (khmerrougehistory.org) and its Facebook page were officially opened by the Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, Ton Sa-Im, who said the wide access to the internet Cambodians enjoy meant the site would be a boon to education efforts surrounding the Khmer Rouge.
“Facebook launch is a very good initiative because right now we have millions of people using mobile phones, even people looking after the cow, so they will get the information more quickly,” she said.
“This website will benefit everyone who is curious about the regime and wants to get more information.”
The website features a timeline spanning the 1920s to 2015, an encyclopaedia section with more than 30 entries on topics including Tuol Sleng prison, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and the forced marriage ceremonies that took place during Pol Pot’s rule.
Kyle James, consultant with German media development organisation DW Akademie, which worked with DC-Cam to develop the website, said the Facebook page launched in tandem with the website was a crucial tool in order spread the website’s awareness.
“The idea of the website and Facebook page is to create a deeper understanding of this part of Cambodian history and encourages dialogue about how the period still resonates in the country today,” he said.
The website at this stage only exists in Khmer with the designers yet to announce if an English-language version of the site will be launched.
DC-Cam was launched to keep history alive and relevant to all Cambodians. With nearly 70 percent of the population under the age of 30, most are too young to have to experienced what the older generations went through.
The organisation was integral in introducing the Khmer Rouge into the country’s national
high-school curriculum to ensure young Cambodians understand what led to the genocidal regime that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.7 million people.
“I hope the institute can spread awareness and the lessons and understanding of the Khmer Rouge regime,” Ms Sa-Im said.