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Memorial To Be ‘Symbolic Compensation’ for Victims of Khmer Rouge

Survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, Chum Mey (L) and Bou Meng (C) pray at Choeung Ek "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, June 25, 2011.

Officials from the Ministry of Culture and the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday signed an agreement to build a memorial stupa for victims of the regime at a former torture center in Phnom Penh.

“It’s a symbol of compensation for victims, for the memory of generations in the future, to prevent that dark era from returning,” Kranh Tony, acting administration chief of tribunal, said at a signing ceremony Thursday.

The stupa will be built within the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school that was turned into a brutal detention center by the Khmer Rouge, where more than 12,000 people were tortured and executed by regime cadre.

Tribunal spokesman Dim Sovannarom said construction of the memorial will take nine months.

Victims of the regime have been calling for reparations for the suffering and loss caused by the Khmer Rouge, including memorials and mental health centers throughout the country. It remains to be seen whether more such memorials will be built, or whether health centers will be funded.

At Thursday’s ceremony, Khmer Rouge survivors Chum Mey and Bou Meng both said they were happy a memorial was going forward.

“The stupa will be symbolic compensation for the victims and witnesses of the Khmer Rouge regime,” German Ambassador Joachim Baron von Marschall said at the ceremony. “It will remind future generations about what has happened during the Khmer Rouge time. Furthermore, it will be a place for those who’ve lost love ones to commemorate their loss.”