Recently, the genocide carried out in Cambodia during 1975-1979 was highlighted in four ways at Kep Gardens: 1) parent workshops 2) Grades 10,11 and 12 workshop 3) primary aged children speaking with a survivor 4) Classes 1, 2, 3 and 4 visiting Kampong Tralach Pagoda. Why is it necessary to remember such horrific and uncivilised behaviour? According to the Documentation Centre and general concensus, we all need to know our history in order to avoid similar events occurring again.
A stupa is located in the compound of Kampong Tralach pagoda. There are two rows of remains. One holds various body bones and the other side holds skulls of the 750 people who were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The bodies were buried in 13 large pits, two of these pits were inside the pagoda grounds. 500 skulls and other bones were damaged when they were evacuated from 11 pits in Trapeang Stor Forest and transported to the pagoda. Another 250 skulls were dug out of the pits inside the Kampong Tralach pagoda. Inside the stupa are the names of the people from Kampong Tralach Village, our local village, who were killed.
Keat, the wonderful lady from the village who comes to Kep Gardens every Thursday, lost her whole family during Pol Pot time: parents, husband, siblings, children, everyone. She has spent the last 40 odd years surviving by herself in the village. She was telling the primary school aged children her story. They felt very sad and decided that they wanted to go and visit Kampong Tralach pagoda and pay their respects to her family and the other people who had died there.
Mr Huch, one of our staff members, was only 12 at the time but remembers vividly the events that took place. Pov, another staff member, also lost her parents and 3 siblings, although in a different province. Both went with the students to the pagoda to pray.
Mr Peng Pong-Rasy, Director, Genocide Education in Cambodia spent the day with us, talking to parents in the morning and afternoon and to Grades 10,11 and 12 students in the evening. Thank you very much Mr Rasy for your informative and at times very emotional presentations. You filled in gaps that were missing in some people’s knowledge of the Khmer Rouge regime. It was an emotional day for many.