To stimulate reconciliation and healing, the Sleuk Rith Institute Museum will position the Khmer Rouge regime in the broader context of Cambodia’s rich cultural, religious, and architectural history, an epoch that extends over centuries. In that expanded context, the genocidal era emerges as a brief but horrific aberration that cannot preempt the value, accomplishments, and dignity of the centuries that preceded it and those yet to come. That conceptual realignment will promote national healing and restore Cambodians’ dignity, faith, and self-respect in themselves and in their country. The nation’s legacy will re-emerge stronger and more resilient as new generations successively acknowledge and reiterate their passion for the country’s legacy as a glorious empire whose unique scientific accomplishments, unrivaled Khmer statuary, and incomparable temple construction have endured over centuries. No other nation has such an extraordinary heritage that continues to stimulate millions of visitors worldwide to join the perpetual international pilgrimage to experience the Angkor Wat temple complex. Another aspect of the healing process addresses the physical and mental health of surviving victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. Complementing the Sleuk Rith Institute is a growing network of community centers staffed by employees of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. Located in key Cambodian provinces, these centers provide access to health care services for the entire population of elderly Khmer Rouge regime survivors, each of whom was victimized and traumatized. Such access services are critical for survivors in remote towns and villages of rural Cambodia with few medical treatment facilities. Access to such services offers them dignity, respect, and comfort in the twilight of their lives.
It is a goal of Documentation Center of Cambodia to train a generation of young Cambodians to produce valuable research, and ultimately to publish books on a par with international scholarly standards. Our Research and Publications Project aims to: a) serve as a resource on the history of Democratic Kampuchea, b) produce scholarly publications, generate scholarly exchange, catalyze training, and create opportunities for our staff to pursue advanced degrees, c) provide a cross-check and confirmation of Khmer Rouge primary documents, and d) provide a broader overall understanding of the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
Given the experience levels of Documentation Center of Cambodia researchers, our strategy is to comb primary and secondary sources, and to conduct interviews with Khmer Rouge victims and perpetrators, in order to assemble a thorough empirical record of data that can then be analyzed by scholars. It takes a great deal of time, training, and experience to produce sophisticated theoretical analyses, but we hope that over time, our researchers will increasingly be able to carry out studies of the more analytical variety.