Nhem Ein, chief photographer of the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 torture prison, and a Siem Reap-based jewelry company have come up with a $2-million plan to transform Anlong Veng, one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge, into a money-making museum, officials said.
Now a deputy district governor of Anlong Veng, Nhem Ein said the planned museum will include such locations as the graves of Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge Defense Minister Son Sen, and Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok.
He also hopes to include Ta Mok’s house, which already draws paying tourists, in the project and build a $300,000 museum to house Khmer Rouge artifacts, including his own photographs of the thousands of people who were imprisoned at S-21 and later executed.
“I don’t want to promote the Khmer Rouge’s legacy, but I want to preserve the Khmer Rouge’s history for the younger generation,” Nhem Ein said.
Ta Mok’s niece Ven Ra said she plans to write a book about her family, which she hopes will clarify the victories of the Khmer Rouge revolution. The book will be available at the museum, she said.
“We sacrificed to help the country but people have accused us of killing people,” she added.
Anlong Veng District Governor Nhim Phanna said 13 Khmer Rouge historical sites on some 40 hectares of land have already been mapped.
“This is a good project. It is useful for my district to get money,” he said.
Staff at Reach Ny Angkor Jewelry Company, which is funding the project, could not be reached for comment.
Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has been advising on the museum project, said Nhem Ein turned to the jeweler after failing to raise funds from aid donors.
“If it’s run by a private company, you can’t avoid being commercialized,” Youk Chhang said.
“I hope we can minimize the commercialization part,” he added.
(Additional reporting by Erika Kinetz)