Friday, January 04, 2008

Searching for the truth

The genocide memorial stupa at Wat Troap Kor in Bati district
The neatly displayed remains of genocide victims at Wat Troap Kor

Human bones and incense sticks

Some of the 30 skulls on display at Wat Troap Kor

The third genocide memorial I visited in the Bati district of Takeo province on New Year's Day was at Wat Troap Kor. Half an hour further south from Wat Ka Koh, this pagoda was about 10 kilometres west of the market at Samraong Yaong village on Route 2. I passed through sleepy villages and two other pagodas before reaching my destination. The pagoda itself was closed, the monks asleep and there was no-one around who knew the whereabouts of the memorial. That meant a search of the grounds until I located the memorial stupa near the front gate. Built in May 2006 thanks to donations that totalled $2,750 according to the writing on the stupa wall, the door was unlocked and the bones were neatly stacked, with approximately thirty skulls on display. Wat Troap Kor was the site of more than 70 mass graves that are believed to have contained upwards of 40,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide, according to the DC-Cam files. In total, within Takeo province there are nine such memorials honouring the deceased, and eighty across the country as a whole.

No comments: