DC-Cam Planning To Build Genocide Museum

After nine years of searching, the Documentation Center of Cam­bod­ia has found a new, permanent home, where it plans to build a mu­seum, genocide library and re­search center, and educational institute for genocide studies, DC-Cam Director Youk Chhang said Sunday.

“By building a permanent center, we hope to share the truth about what happened in the Khmer Rouge era, thereby helping to eliminate Cambodia’s continuing culture of impunity and reducing the likelihood of grave human rights abuses in future generations,” he said in an e-mail.

The land was a gift from the government: a 5,600-square-meter empty parcel near Boeng Trabek High School, officially delivered Ap­ril 17, Youk Chhang said.

The first phase of development will be funded with the center’s $2 million endowment from the US Ag­­ency for International Develop­ment, but fundraising is ongoing, Youk Chhang said by phone from Malaysia.

Youk Chhang said he was optimistic construction could start next year, with a tentative opening date of 2010.

Plans for the museum include a permanent exhibit chronicling the events of April 17, 1975, the day Phnom Penh fell to Khmer Rouge forces.

In addition, the new center will host a permanent library for scholars. “We aim to be the leading research center on genocide in Asia,” Youk Chhang said by e-mail.

DC-Cam also envisions the center as an academic training institute, where high school and university students, both Cambodian and international, can learn about Khmer Rouge history, genocide and human rights.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said DC-Cam’s new land previously belonged to the Ministry of Education.

“The museum is very important for our history because no other country has experienced such bad history,” he said by telephone Sunday.

Youk Chhang said the government had previously granted DC-Cam a parcel of land behind Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 1999, but that poor squatters declined to vacate the area.

“I decided not to evict anyone, but no one moved out voluntarily,” he said.

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