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Red Cross Declines Funding Women's Statue

The Cambodian Red Cross said Tuesday it would be unable to fund a statue in memory of women and victims of the Khmer Rouge.

The statue, of woman and child, proposed by Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, would commemorate the many women who struggled to rebuild Cambodia following the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

Youk Chhang put forward the idea to the Cambodian Red Cross, led by Bun Rany, wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen, in a proposal on International Women's Day, March 8.

"We can only submit our appreciation and respect to Youk Chhang for his good initiative," Cambodian Red Cross Cabinet Chief Men Neary Sopheak said. "However, the Cambodian Red Cross believes the realization [of the statue] exceeds its current capacity."

Youk Chhang said he did not regret the decision, but urged the government, the Khmer Rouge tribunal courts and all Cambodian citizens to consider common compensation for Khmer Rouge atrocities.

The proposed statue seeks to provide some of that reconciliation.

Twenty meters tall, the statue would stand in Phnom Penh's Hun Sen Park, the bottom three of seven parts buried in the ground, to commemorate 3 million dead or disappeared under the Khmer Rouge, Youk Chhang proposed.

The woman would be holding a child in her arms, to symbolize remembrance of the genocide for later generations. The woman would face west, into the setting sun, her long shadow a reminder of the past, her face aglow at dusk, to look toward the future, Youk Chhang said in his proposal.

He said Wednesday he would continue to seek sponsors for the statue.