Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Cambodia marks genocide atrocities with Day of Anger

AFP, PHNOM PENH

Actors re-enact a scene based on Khmer Rouge regime tactics during the annual “Day of Anger,” where people gather to remember those who perished during the Maoist regime’s rule, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Black-clad students yesterday reenacted the horrors of the Cambodian genocide at the “Killing Fields” to commemorate the 2 million people killed by the Khmer Rouge’s murderous Maoist regime.

Hundreds gathered at the notorious site in Phnom Penh to mark the annual Day of Remembrance with prayers and performances, including students wielding wooden rifles, knives and bamboo sticks in mock attacks.

“We performed these scenes in order to remember the genocidal Pol Pot regime and the cruelty that Cambodian people suffered,” said Chhaem Khleuong, a fine arts teacher who played a Khmer Rouge cadre.

A quarter of the nation’s population died under Pol Pot’s regime, culled in mass killings or of starvation, forced labor or torture.

His brutal reign came to an end in 1979, and the Khmer Rouge atrocities are still remembered at museums and sites dedicated to victims of the genocide.

The Day of Remembrance — more commonly called the “Day of Anger” in Cambodia — is held at the Choeung Ek “Killing Fields,” where about 15,000 people were confined and sent to their deaths from 1975 and 1979.

It was an emotional day for many attendees, with some crying as students pretended to slit victims’ throats, shoot them dead or subject them to waterboarding.

“These views brought my feeling back to the Pol Pot era; the killing was heinous,” said 62-year-old Chan Ren, who lost more than 10 relatives under the regime.

“Today, people attend the event to pray to the souls of people who were killed by the Khmer Rouge,” she added.

Several of the genocide’s chief orchestrators have been tried by a UN-backed court, though critics say prosecutions have been too slow and many of the accused have died before facing trial.

In November, Khmer Rouge’s former head of state Khieu Samphan and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea were found guilty of genocide and sentenced to life in prison.

Pol Pot, nicknamed “Brother Number One,” died in 1998 before he was brought to trial.

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