Phnom Penh’s infamous “Killing Fields” at Cheung Ek, where the bones of an estimated 20,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime were discovered, is due for an extensive make over, municipal officials announced Thursday.
City officials said the existing memorial to the slain needs to be improved to attract more tourists.
Nun Sameth, deputy chief of the Municipal Cabinet, said after Thursday’s meeting that the city has tentatively planned to double Cheung Ek’s current two hectares.
Along with a new building in which Buddhists may worship and a large pond, a pathway four meters wide will be constructed to allow an increasing number of visitors easy access to pits where thousands of bodies were buried and the memorial stupa where the bones of the dead are now on display.
A souvenir shop located in a nearby parking lot will be converted into an information and ticketing office. A small village located opposite the center will be converted into antique period Khmer-style houses where food, drinks and souvenirs will be sold.
“Then visitors can relax after seeing the center in traditional houses,” Nun Sameth said.
Presiding over the meeting at City Hall. Governor Chea Sophara said the “Killing Fields” are now part of Cambodian culture and must be preserved for future generations.
“It is a center to the memory of genocide. But I will build it as a cultural center too,” Chea Sophara said.
The renovation plan will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval, Chea Sophara said, adding that a final budget has not been calculated. He said he hoped NGOs would help cover the costs.
The government recently rejected a request that the remains of Khmer Rouge victims be cremated, saying the remains are needed as evidence against the regime’s leaders.