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Project to digitise prison history

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Tuol Sleng archives saved: Khmer Rouge documents to be preserved for next generation. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts yesterday launched a preservation and digitisation project for the archives held at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

The project, which is being funded by Unesco and the Korea International Cooperation Agency, is aimed at maintaining and preserving documents from the Khmer Rouge regime and helping inform researchers from Cambodia and around the world.

Funding will be used to help officials preserve old documents from the former S21 prison and list them on a computerised database.

The digital database will include biographical records of prisoners, prison guards and officials, original negative films and micro film, execution lists, prisoner release lists, daily logbooks, and records of methods used to monitor the enemy.

Funding will help officials preserve documents from the former prison. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Chuch Phoeun, secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said the government had been preserving Tuol Sleng for 39 years, as evidence against former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

“It is important that documents from Pol Pot’s regime be there for the next generation to study and to prevent such a cruel regime from happening again,” said Mr Phoeun.

Anne Lemaistre, Unesco representative to Cambodia, said that the project would help provide universal access to world heritage documents held at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and increase awareness of their significance.

She said the archives contain photographs of more than 5,000 prisoners, as well as their confessions, many of which were extracted under torture.

Archives contain photographs of more than 5,000 prisoners. KT/Chor Sokunthea

“The digitisation of 400,000 pages of documents will be complete within a period of two years, as will the creation of a database and website for the families of victims of Tuol Sleng and national and international researchers,” Ms Lemaistre said.

In 2009, more than 400,000 pages of documentary heritage from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum were recognised as World Documentary Heritage of international significance and were inscribed on the Unesco Memory of the World International Register.

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