|Exodus from Phnom Penh in 1975|
By Greg Mellen, Staff Writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
- What: Requiem Mantra Prayer Blessing the Victims
- When: 9 a.m. noon
- Where: 1501 E. Anaheim St.
- What: Movie screenings: Enemies of the People, Pol Pot, the Secret Killer
- When: 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
- Where: Mark Twain Branch Library, 1401 E. Anaheim St.
- What: City Council resolution recognizing April as Genocide Awareness Month
- When: 5:30 p.m. 7 p.m.
- Where: City Hall Chambers, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.
- What: Courage to Remember presentation
- When: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
- Where: Long Beach City College, 1305 Pacific Coast Highway, Dryer Hall and Senior Centers Room FF
- What: Commemoration Ceremony, Candlelight Vigil
- When: 7:30 p.m.
- Where: 1501 E. Anaheim St.
LONG BEACH - On Tuesday, Cambodians will remember the day the darkness fell on their country. April 17 will mark the 37th anniversary of the fall of Cambodian capitol city Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge and the onset of a genocidal regime that would be remembered for the Killing Fields.
Throughout the community, the date will be remembered in ways and events big and small.
At City Hall, Councilman Dee Andrews will ask the city to recognize April as Genocide Awareness Month. The United Cambodian Community will team with Long Beach City College for a special event entitled Courage to Remember, and throughout the day, the Killing Fields Memorial Center will have events at the future site of a proposed memorial park on Anaheim Street. Elsewhere, many refugees will attend temple or quietly reflect with family members.
The Killing Fields Memorial Center will offer a requiem prayer and a blessing of the victims in the morning to start the day at the future park site. Paline Soth, the group's president, who helped organize the event, said about 22 monks from temples in Long Beach and Los Angeles are expected to participate.
The Killing Fields Memorial group has been commemorating the anniversary of the Khmer Rouge ascension. In addition to the morning event, there will be a screening at the Mark Twain Library of several documentary films about the genocide and an evening candlelight vigil and survivor testimonies.
Soth was particularly enthused about Andrews' resolution and planned to join a contingent of people showing support for the proposal. Soth said he hopes a city resolution will help prepare the way for more widespread support.
"We want to be a part of a big picture," said Soth, noting Cambodian genocide is just one of many. "(Genocide) is a worldwide problem, and in the name of humanity, it's important to remember genocides."
Long Beach joins a growing movement to recognize April as genocide awareness month. In addition to the Cambodian genocide, recognized to have begun with the April 17 rise of Pol Pot, the Armenian genocide is said to have begun April 24, 1915, the Bosnian war began in April 1992, and the Rwandan genocide was kicked off by assassination in April 1994.
Supporters of April as the month to remember genocide say the month was critical in both the Holocaust and genocide in Darfur.
In choosing Courage to Remember as a theme for its program, UCC Executive Director Sara Pol-Lim, says she hopes to press the message that although it is painful to recall the genocide, survivors can sometimes find improved mental health and reduced stress through recognition.
As part of the program, 10 or so posters will be displayed featuring photographs, reflections and family stories.
Pol-Lim said discussing the genocide and personal stories can be healing for families and second- and third-generation Cambodian-Americans.
"We want to empower the rest of the community to step up," Pol-Lim said.