BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The “Annual Day of Anger Against the Khmer Rouge Regime” was celebrated at the former killing field, Choeung Ek, outside the capital of Phnom Penh. About 3,000 Cambodians including Buddhist monks, laypeople, government officials, teachers and students attended the ceremony on May 20.
The Ceremony was organized by the Phnom Penh Municipality, aiming to mark and remember those Cambodians who were killed by the Khmer Rouge leaders who reined Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
The cornerstone of the ceremony was performed by a group of Cambodian students from The Royal University of Fine Arts dressed as Khmer Rouge soldiers acted out executions in a reminder of the mass killings that characterized the regime that ruled from 1975 to 1979.
Kep Chuktema, Personal Advisor to the Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Governor of the Phnom Penh Municipality, said that the main objective of the event was to remember innocent people who had been killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
“The Khmer Rouge regime was very cruel for its people and the Khmer Rouge Leaders had betrayed their country and their people by using the people's blood as capital, so people are very angry with the Khmer Rouge’s regime and its leaders,” he said.
The Governor stated that despite the Khmer Rouge’s terror regime has been pasted over 30 years ago but the regime still hurts Cambodians so much and Cambodian cannot forget about it. He added that the event was first held in 1984, five years after the Khmer Rouge was driven from power in Cambodia.
Bun Thea, 62, who attended the Annual Day of Anger Against the Khmer Rouge Regime”, said that he and his family lived in Kampong Speu province during the Khmer Rouge regime. He added that he had six siblings including 4 brothers and two sisters but his five siblings and parents died of starvation and sickness in the Khmer Rouge regime.
“I am still very angry with the Khmer Rouge regime and former Khmer Rouge Leaders. I am now waiting for the justice for family members and those who were killed in this cruel regime. I hope that the justice will come soon when all the former Khmer Rouge leaders will be prosecuted in the future,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.
Thea called on the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to speed up the prosecution of the former Khmer Rouge Leaders so that they can find the truth and justice for all people who were killed in that regime.
The ceremony was held at Chhoeung Ek, where thousands of Cambodians from the regime's main security prison known as S-21 were executed. Nowadays, Both Chhoeung Ek and S-21 are popular sites for tourists to visit the place.
In 2009, a former S-21's commander, Comrade Kaing Gech Iv alias “Duch”, appeared before the ECCC tribunal charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Duch’s verdict is expected in the end of this year.
And other four Khmer Rouge leaders including “Brother Number Two” ideologue Nuon Chea and head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, minister of social affairs Ieng Thirith are expected to stand trial next year.
According to a report, there were estimated 1.7 million people died during the Khmer Rouge’s rule of Cambodia from execution, overwork, starvation and illness in Cambodia.