The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, in collaboration with Korea International Cooperation Agency, the Culture Ministry, Unesco, and NGO Memory of the World, yesterday began a three-day international conference as part of events to mark its 40th anniversary which fell on August 19.
A joint statement from the museum and KOICA said that for the first day, 40 participants from the agency, Unesco and the NGO visited the museum in the morning and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields in the afternoon.
The visit was facilitated by the ministry and the museum as part of the three-day International Conference on Genocide, Memory and Peace.
The statement said that on the second day, today, various donors together with civil society groups and institutions will discuss ways to further disseminate information about the Khmer Rouge regime’s cruel rule as part of efforts to promote justice for victims and further the reconciliation process and peace in the Kingdom.
“There will be short presentations and roundtable discussions around the theme “40 years: search for peace, truth and reconciliation in Cambodia,” it said.
The statement said that the main international conference will take place tomorrow and representatives of 25 museums from five continents will share their experiences in archiving mass murder or genocide-related activities, under the theme “Making archives accessible – technical and ethical aspects.”
It noted that participants will include members of the International Committee of Memorial Museums in Remembrance of the Victims of Public Crimes, a sub-committee of the International Council of Museums.
The statement said that the overall aim of the conference is to raise awareness about an event of immense historical significance for Cambodia and the world, and provide a platform to promote genocide education, peace-building, and reconciliation.
Chhay Visoth, the museum’s director, yesterday said the three-day conference is being held as part of 40th anniversary commemorations.
He noted that the KOICA, through Unesco, had provided $1.15 million to fund a digitisation project aimed at maintaining and preserving about 400,000 records of Pol Pot’s brutal regime.
Mr Visoth said a database is being prepared to include biographical records of prisoners, prison guards and officials, original film negatives and micro films, execution lists, prisoner release lists, daily logbooks, and records of methods used to monitor enemies of the regime.
He noted that the digitisation process will be completed by the year’s end and the database will be launched in the beginning of next year.
Mr Visoth also said that the museum is badly in need of an office for its staff but it cannot build one because the present compound is too small.
“We appeal to NGOs to help buy land near the museum and build an office so that our staff can have more working space,” he said.
Mr Visoth estimated that it will cost more than $1 million to buy the land and build the office.
He also appealed to more people to visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum because it preserves part of the Kingdom’s history.
Mr Visoth noted that not many Cambodians visit it and urged the older generation to bring their children to learn about what went on during the Pol Pot regime’s rule.
“Because the number of Cambodian visitors is small, I am concerned that the younger generation will forget this part of the Kingdom’s history,” he said. “On average, between 400 and 500 people visit TSGM daily and most of them are foreigners.”