Remembering Cambodia’s genocide in a corner of Africa

Rwanda’s genocide memorial features a Cambodian ‘remembrance’ corner, a space for healing sorely lacking in Phnom Penh.

April 1975 was a cruel month for millions of Cambodians. Forty-nine years ago, on April 17, the Khmer Rouge finally captured Phnom Penh after a five-year civil war with the US-backed Lon Nol regime.

One million residents and another million refugees in the capital city initially felt a sense of jubilation that the war was finally over.

The Khmer Rouge had other ideas that didn’t include celebrating. They forcefully evacuated the city, a process that resulted in thousands of deaths, especially among the elderly and infirm, who walking in the blistering heat of April died along roadsides heading away from Phnom Penh.

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