Khmer Rouge papers to go online

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A tourist at the Killing Fields listens to commentary on a headset while taking in the sights. KT/Alan Parkhouse

The Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) will soon launch an interactive website to publish its collection of one million documents on the Khmer Rouge regime, which will be available for public access.
 
DC-Cam, in collaboration with German media development organization DW Akademie, said it will launch the site later this year, without specifying a date, aimed specifically at educating Cambodian youth.
 
“This new interactive website will open up a new channel and provide information on a very important topic to young Cambodians in the place they all gather – online,” DW Akademie consultant Kyle James said in a statement released on Monday.
 
The website will allow users to navigate through the trove of material belonging to DC-Cam, which claims it has the largest collection of Khmer Rouge regime documents in Southeast Asia, in various forms that include historic films and audio, rare photographs and interviews with both survivors and former Khmer Rouge cadres.
 
The site will also feature a timeline of the regime’s rule in Cambodia, a guide to its policies as well as profiles of those who lived through the traumatic period.
 
“Our view of the past affects how we respond to our present circumstances. If our view of history is wrong, we are likely to make wrong choices today,” Pheng Pong-Rasy, who leads DC-Cam’s Genocide Education Project, said.
 
In an interview with Voice of America yesterday, Mr. Pong-Rasy explained that DC-Cam had previously attempted to reach the masses through printed materials, but now believed a switch to online resources was necessary given the permeation of smartphone technology.
 
“We came up with this idea of creating a permanent website where students and youngsters of all generations could access them with their phone whenever they want. This is our main purpose,” he said.
 
“We created this [website] not only to target youngsters, but anyone who could see it…especially those who are living far away from town and those who have never been educated at all about Khmer Rouge history,” he added.
 
According to Voice of America, the website will be available in both English and Khmer, on top of a comments section for users to post questions which will be answered by DC-Cam staff.
 
“The study of Khmer Rouge history is not only important for Cambodian young people to understand Cambodia’s modern history, but also to have an insight into the root causes and the consequences of the Cambodian tragedy, as well as to make sure that such tragic history will never repeat itself in the future,” Education, Youth and Sport Minister Hang Chuon Naron was quoted as saying in the statement.
 
As many as three million Cambodians are believed to have died during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979.
 
Pol Pot’s forced evacuation of Phnom Penh resulted in widespread death from starvation, overwork and execution.
 
To date, only three of the regime’s leaders have been sentenced to life imprisonment by the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, while many of the other aging leaders are either awaiting trial or have died from old age.

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