Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Memorial at Wat Nokor

The victims remains at Wat Nokor are stored at the backside of a shrine
A section of the 1,000 victims stored in the open-air at Wat Nokor
The Genocide Memorial at Wat Nokor, the ancient temple merged into a modern wat located just outside Kompong Cham city, has been moved since my last visit in 2003. The large walk-in stupa that previously housed the skulls and bones of the Khmer Rouge victims, has been closed and the remains moved to the backside of a nearby shrine. I was told that the family who owned the stupa wanted it for their own family members and the remains of what originally was over 1,000 victims, had to be relocated. Their new home is in a forgotten corner of the pagoda's cemetery and like most of the genocide memorials across the country, in excess of eighty, they are now largely forgotten memories of a dim and distant past.
DC-Cam records show that the 1,000 plus victims' remains were originally brought to Wat Nokor from the massive killing fields site at Phnom Pros, about five kilometres away, where over 10,000 people were believed to have perished. Originally, the bones were stored in one memorial whilst a stupa was used for ceremonial purposes. However, these days the ceremonies have stopped and the bones are now at the mercy of the weather and animals. I visited some other memorial sites whilst in Kompong Cham province and apart from Phnom Pros, where a new stupa has been erected, the story of neglect and the absence of public memory is the same.

This Buddhist shrine marks the spot where KR victims are stored
The Khmer Rouge victims at Wat Nokor are now at the mercy of the weather and roaming animals
Leg and arm bones are stored with skulls of the KR victims at Wat Nokor

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