Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema presented documentation conferring control of the Choeung Ek “killing fields” genocide memorial to Japanese company JC Royal at a meeting at City Hall on Thursday.
The unpublicized meeting of the Japanese company and municipal officials was originally scheduled for April 7, but it was apparently canceled following the storm of controversy over the leasing of the memorial to a foreign company.
Genocide researcher Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, reiterated his opposition to the deal on Thursday and called again on the Japanese government to reveal whether it has links to the JC Royal company.
Kep Chuktema said that those who oppose the 30-year lease of the Choeung Ek memorial to JC Royal must be misinformed.
“Anyone who has criticized the project…has not received enough information dealing with Choeung Ek,” Kep Chuktema said after the handing-over ceremony.
Kep Chuktema denied he made the deal alone. “I am also a victim,” he said. “Do not say the killing fields will be destroyed. Even an attempt to do so, I will not support.” Kep Chuktema also said that the JC Royal agreement could not be changed.
Though the public reaction to the privatization deal has been largely muted, the memorial’s manager, Neang Say, and both Vann Nath and Chum Mey, two of only seven people to survive Tuol Sleng prison, have blasted the government’s deal.
The Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh has still not responded about whether links exist between the JC Royal company and the Japanese government, Youk Chhang said Thursday.
The Embassy must state its position on JC Royal’s involvement in Choeung Ek, he added.
“We should not let other nationalities control the graves and bones of our relatives. We must take care for the graves and bones ourselves,” Youk Chhang said.