Officials from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Khmer Rouge tribunal over the construction of a memorial stupa to commemorate victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.
The $88,500 stupa, which will stand 5 meters tall and was largely funded by the German government, will occupy a quadrangle at the northeastern corner of Tuol Sleng, where a wooden stupa once sat. It will be a non-judicial memorial project, meaning that it is intended for all those affected by the Khmer Rouge regime and not just the civil parties at the court.
Speaking at a ceremony at the prison museum, German Ambassador Joachim Baron von Marshall said that trips to German concentration camps had given him the “same frightful feeling that has overcome me here.”
“The stupa will be a symbolic compensation for victims and witnesses of the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.
“By enshrining the names of the victims in a golden book, they will be saved from oblivion, while at the same time, these names, along with the photographs in the museum, remind us that the genocide was not an abstract phenomenon, but a human reality experienced by each and every victim individually.”
Kranh Tony, acting director of the court’s office of administration, said in a speech that the new stupa would “serve as an educational tool for the next generations to remember and prevent the return of such a dark regime.”
Seventy-three-year-old Tuol Sleng survivor Bou Meng, however, said he would benefit more from financial compensation for the death of his wife, who perished under Pol Pot.
“I want it from the donors, from the ECCC,” he said, adding that $5,000 could suffice. “I want cash.”
(Additional reporting by Phorn Bopha)
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the stupa would cost $770,000. The cost is $88,500.
© 2014, Lauren Crothers. All rights reserved.