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Sam Rainsy Plans Ceremony for Fall of Phnom Penh

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy will lead a Buddhist ceremony at the Chhoeung Ek “killing fields” April 17 to commemorate the fall of Phnom Penh and the ascent of the Khmer Rouge in 1975.

Such events have been controversial over the years, with former Khmer Rouge calling it a day of victory that liberated Cambodians from foreign colonialism.

April 17, 1975, marked the beginning of Year Zero, when Khmer Rouge guerillas marched the populace into collective agrarian camps, under a policy that would lead to the deaths of nearly 2 million people.

“The ceremony is to pay respect to the memory of the victims and to ask for faster prosecution of all the former Khmer Rouge surviving leaders,” the Sam Rainsy Party said in a statement.

Five aging former leaders of the regime are now in detention at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.