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Youth Can 'Bridge Gap' for Legacy of Khmer Rouge

Long Khet, executive director of Youth for Peace, on 'Hello VOA' on Monday.
Long Khet, executive director of Youth for Peace, on 'Hello VOA' on Monday.

Youth can play a vital role in bringing back some of the trust that was lost in the Khmer Rouge and intervening war years, an youth leader said Monday.

“In our community, we've lost our values, solidarity and trust among each other, especially with the Khmer Rouge survivors,” said Long Khet, executive director of Youth for Peace, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“So the role of the youth in bring back inter-generational dialogue between survivors and victims and the younger generations is that we can rebuild our society,” he said.

Fear, anger, anxiety and mistrust have become everyday realities for Cambodians after the Khmer Rouge. Under the regime, people were taught to keep silent, and often their survival depended on that silence.

That has made honest dialogue rare, and fear or suspicion the norm, Long Khet said. “So the young generation plays an important role in bridging this gap.”

Those belonging to the older generation may be more likely to tell of past suffering one they know the young are interested, he said. “They would feel relieved.”

Not all survivors are convinced.

“I will feel relieved only when my mother, brothers and sisters come back to life,” a “Hello VOA” caller who gave his name as Mary said. “How can you be 'relieved' when only a few Khmer Rouge at the top were brought to justice and when those with bloodied hands under them are still living in the same village as you?”