Renowned researcher Youk Chhang, who painstakingly documented Khmer Rouge horrors, has won the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is widely regarded as Asia’s Nobel Prize.
The executive director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia was among six in Asia who received this year’s award.
The commission in the Philippines which picks the winners said last week in a statement that Mr Chhang was selected as a winner for preserving historical memory and for his efforts in promoting healing and justice.
“In electing Youk Chhang to receive the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his great, unstinting labour in preserving the memory of the Cambodian genocide, and his leadership and vision in transforming the memory of horror into a process of attaining and preserving justice in his nation and the world,” the statement said.
Mr Chhang, whose father was killed under the Khmer Rouge, said yesterday that the award was a reminder for people not to give up hope.
“I accept the award for my mother who suffered from the regime. I want her to be proud of me, and I want her to be a free woman, not to carry all the tragedy in her heart and in her life,” he said.
He added that his mission in documenting the genocide had been profoundly personal and that he was committed to preserving its memory for justice and healing for all Cambodians.
Mr Chhang, 57, has devoted his life to documenting the Khmer Rouge era, when about two million of his countrymen died in the 1970s.
Mr Chhang is currently engaged in building the Sleuk Rith Institute, an ambitious project that includes a museum, archives, a library, a research centre.
Other award recipients this year are from India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Timor Leste. The awards will be presented during a formal ceremony in Manila on August 31.