Lots of Visitors Visit Choeung Ek Genocidal Center whilst Khmer Rouge Tribunal Is Ongoing

Posted by khmernews on January 4, 2007

Phnom Penh: Numbers of visitors and researchers visiting Choeung Ek Genocidal Center is increasing more than fifty percent while Khmer Rouge tribunal has been in progress.

It was made known that after being in power from 1975-79, the Khmer Rouge leaders transformed Choeung Ek area, located in Dangkao district in Phnom Penh, into a brutal killing field. Choeung Ek was ranked second as a big killing field in Phnom Penh, whilst Tuol Sleng was in the first rank.

Mr. Nhoem Chantheng, a staff of Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, said that more than 20,000 victims were killed in Choeung Ek during the Khmer Rouge regime. 17.000 of the victims were sent from Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21, and others were transported from different areas throughout the country.

Mr. Nhoem Chantheng went on to say that the victims that Khmer Rouge killed in this area were workers, farmers, government officials, soldiers and intellectuals. Also, nine foreign ambassadors were murdered in there. In 1980, Choeung Ek became an important center that testified to the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime. Moreover, a memorial statue was built in memory of over 3 million people who died in the Khmer Rouge regime.

Ms. Ros Sophearavy, deputy director of Choeung Ek genocidal center, affirmed that the center was previously under the management of the Phnom Penh municipality. But since 23rd of May 2005, a 30-year contract on management of the center was awarded to JC Royal Company.

She stressed that the number of visitors depends on whether it is low season or high season. In low season, at least 100 or 200 visitors visit the center a day. And in 2006, when the Khmer Rouge tribunal was established, there have been 300 or 400 people visiting the Center everyday. Some days, the number of visitors increased to 500.

“If we compare between 2005 and 2006, the number of visitors increases from 50 to 60 percent,” added Ms. Ros Sophearavy. A ticket for a foreign visitor is US$2, and it is free entrance for Cambodian people.

She further said that the income from the ticket selling is used for the conservation and development of the center. Beside that, the income is used to assist 29 poor students and to contribute to social affairs.

She highlighted that the company pays income tax every month and gives US$ 15.000 a year to the Phnom Penh municipality for a period of five years. In year 6, the company will give US$17.000 a year to the Phnom Penh municipality.

She asserted that the company has planed to buy lands for building a museum, a statue for recording names of dead victims, and roads in the center to prevent the visitors from walking everywhere in the center that can damage the evidences.

Mr. Vann Than Pov Dara, deputy president of Document Center of Cambodia, said that throughout the country, about 20.000 mass graves and 189 prisons or security centers were found.

Mr. Reach Sambath, a spokesperson of the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia, said that the tribunal would take three years. However, so far there has been no one that can give appropriate estimation about how long the tribunal will take.

Extracted from: Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.14, #4168, Tuesday 26 December 2006


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