A series of articles posted to KI Media reported on a recent memorial ritual and event held on behalf of the victims of the Khmer Rouge by those living in one of the last Khmer Rouge zones in Cambodia, near Phnom Voar, in Kampot Province.
I have friends in this area, and it’s a fascinating place, for lots of reasons. I think that a number of things should be kept in mind while reading these articles. Note the presence of high-ranking foreign dignitaries. Consider the inclusion of Chhouk Rin as a convicted murderer of the foreign backpackers, and then realize that lots of people do not consider him guilty, and even more don’t think he should be in jail. Consider the disproportionate emphasis given to these foreign backpackers. Who is really being ritualized here, and to what extent is this ritual an attempt on the part of the desperately poor Phnom Voar villagers to reintegrate by claiming ‘mea culpa’ (or tos yoeng) about the past. They need funding, they need food, they need development. And the people who hold the purse strings for the national government are there at the ritual. There are others, but perhaps the articles should speak for themselves: