Provincial Learning Centers / Memorials
and other Authentic Sites
Building at provincial learning center/memorial at Wat Samrong in Battambang, a CJR project funded by the Australian Embassy
The incorporation of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation into CIVICUS Cambodia as a major component poises the organization to strengthen its work in the establishment of provincial Learning Centers/Memorials, a project which was conceived in 2009. The project works toward the continued education of, access to, and relief from Cambodia’s history surrounding the Khmer Rouge era for those members of the population outside of Phnom Penh.
Today, less than thirty percent of 14 million Cambodians live in a urban areas. Phnom Penh, the largest city with 2-3 million people, provides numerous educational and reconciliatory opportunities with museums such as Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek, as well as access to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and its proceedings, while the rest of Cambodia struggle to deal with the horrendous past due to a lack of resources and outreach. CIVICUS Cambodia’s Provincial Learning Centers-Memorials Project works to repair this disparity.
CIVICUS Cambodia, in association with a wide, diverse network of actors, is working to establish and manage Learning Centers-Memorials in six provinces as a pilot project. Ultimately, we would like to see each province with a Learning Center-Memorial site throughout Cambodia, with the management and active participation of diverse actors.
CIVICUS Cambodia hopes to reach a wide-range of survivors who would otherwise be without necessary resources. The projects seeks to give Cambodians opportunities to (i) honor loved ones, (ii) receive education on the Khmer Rouge era and human rights issues, (iii) continue the legacy of the ECCC; and (iv) provide an outlet and voice to be shared with the rest of the country, and the world on issues of justice, peace, reconciliation, human rights, democracy, and personal experience with the Khmer Rouge.
Theary Seng (pointing at a mass grave, possibly where her mom was killed in 1978) speaking with man who was there at Boeung Rai Security Center (the heart of the Eastern Zone) when she was a prisoner there. Mrs. Andrea Mann (the German Ambassador's real boss!), Helen & Wally Boelkins, Daravuth Seng, village children, filmmaker Marc Eberle (Svay Rieng, 18 Jan. 2010).
The skulls at Wat Beoung Rai in one of 2 unprotected "cheddai". Among the 30,000 skulls, these are the only ones remaining: over the years, the villagers have been taking the skulls at liberty to grind them into traditional medicine. The bones are still in the mass graves in and around the pagoda and the nearby prison (above photo). On this visit with a great friend of Cambodia at the EU-Brussels and painter Danielle Dal Molin (4 Sept. 2010), an "excellency" had spent @ US$3,000 to reconstruct this gaudy shiny "cheddai" with his name boldly, decidedly inscribed into this very public cheddai... This is the problem when memorializing is left into private hands with no community involvement and no national leadership at preservation.
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Other Authentic Sites
Kampong Chhnang Airport Construction Execution Site
in Cases 002 and 003 of the Extraordinary Chambers (ECCC)
Behind Theary Seng stands the abandoned control tower which used to hold skulls and bones before they were transferred to local pagoda, 9 Oct. 2011
Stung Pagoda, Kampot Province
Venue of our Courage Curriculum Training Workshop
Students from elementary school next door to the pagoda regularly come to view the skulls and bones on the grounds of the Stung Pagoda (Kampot Province, 18 Oct. 2011)