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Day of Peace Observed in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Responding to the UN call for youth to promote peace and democracy at the occasion of International Day of Peace, around 30 young Ambassadors for Peace visited Tuol Sleng <--!Genocide -->Museum on September 18 after they listened to a presentation on the Principles of Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution at the UPF-Cambodia office in Phnom Penh Thmey.

It was for the first time for most of participants to visit the museum.

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They gathered in front of white graves before visiting each room of the site. Only 14 dead bodies were found right after the liberation from Pol Pot regime in January 1979, even though more than 10,000 people were put into this prison for more than three years. Most of prisoners were moved to the killing field outside of Phnom Penh to die. Fourteen graves were placed here, representing all the victims.

Only seven people survived this prison.

First, a student representative read UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Day of Peace 2011.

Understanding the role and importance of youth for the peaceful society, everyone offered one minute silent prayer to console victims’ spirits.

During the Pol Pot regime, children were separated from parents, who were considered capitalists; the children were brainwashed with communist ideology as well as taught methods and given leadership roles. They were loyal to the communist leaders and became torturers and executioners.

Around 5,000 pictures of prisoners were on exhibit. Some youth could not bear to continue looking the horrible scenes of prisoners. The others reflected on how to avoid this kind of situation and what needs to be done to establish a peaceful society. Another expressed gratitude for the opportunity to live in a democratic society.

We hope that young Ambassadors for Peace will become the main power to repaint the dark Cambodian history into a luminous one by learning from the past.

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