Sunday, September 6, 2015

Locating Trapeang Sva

Inside the stupa at Trapeang Sva
One of the scenes in The Last Reel, currently being shown in cinemas in Cambodia, was set at a genocide memorial in the ricefields of Takeo. Yesterday, I visited one such memorial in the Tonle Bati area, which was in my mind when I submitted examples of memorials to the film's director a couple of years ago, as part of the movie's historical research. This one at Sala Trapeang Sva has changed since my last visit in 2008. Then, it was located in remote scrub-land but is now close to newly-built homes and a drug rehab center. The writing on the memorial stupa indicated it was built in 1999, there was no lock on the door and the shrine was full to brimming with human bones and a few skulls. DC-Cam records indicate that more than 95 mass grave pits were discovered at the site and around 10,000 victims were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime in the immediate vicinity. The wall paintings in the open-sided sala next to the stupa were created in 2004 and 2011, showing scenes reminiscent in style to those painted by Vann Nath that hang in the Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh. Most of the memorials around the country, similar to this one, lie largely forgotten and neglected.

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