A two-day blessing ceremony dedicated to the victims of Pol Pot’s regime at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum began yesterday with the attendance of monks and government officials.
Day one of the ceremony was presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An.
Museum director Chhay Visoth said monks were invited to be offered food and drinks as they bless the spirits of victims.
“This is the biggest annual ceremony here in Tuol Sleng,” he said. “We are holding this ceremony to bless those who were killed in S-21 under the regime.”
The brutal Khmer Rouge regime ruled from 1975 to 1979, when Vietnamese forces overthrew its leadership.
Mr Visoth said everyone should learn about Cambodia’s history. He said Cambodians should not forget their dark past.
“When we understand the past, we have the foundation to think about someone’s political message,” he said. “So I am appealing to all Cambodians to push their children to study the regime as well as history in general.”
Nhep Sokunpanha, a student from Kampong Cham province, said government officials annually hold the ceremony in order to remember those who were killed by the Khmer Rouge.
“I think that this ceremony will remember the victims and we wish they rest in peace,” Mr Sokunpanha said. “This regime was very cruel and malignant, and I wish that Cambodia will never have this regime again.”
Sin Ratana, another student from Kampong Cham, said she first learned about the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in school. Ms Ratana said that the past should not be repeated.
“I don’t want Cambodians to be killed,” she said. “I want Cambodia to have peace forever.”
An estimated 1.7 million people died of overwork, starvation, disease and execution under the Khmer Rouge, including more than 10,000 at S-21