April 16th, 2015 the state of California recognizes April 13th to April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Memorial Week. This historical milestone sets a very important tone by showing the resilience of the Cambodian people all over the world.
We in the community are immersed in it and some are tired of hearing about it. In truth, not many people outside of the Cambodian community are aware of the tragic history. This is a momentous stepping stone in bringing the Khmer Rouge's terror into the mainstream.
"Awareness is powerful" - Komarey Kao
Only 40 years ago Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge and the infamous "Killing Fields" took place. An estimated two million Cambodians were murdered by execution, starvation, and disease.
In Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge turned a high school formerly named Chao Ponhea Yat into Security Prison 21. Infamously known as S-21 and Tuol Sleng, the security prison was used to interrogate, torture, and execute those who were believed to be traitors of the Khmer Rouge. An estimated 17,000 or even 20,000 were tortured and executed from 1975 to 1979. It is believed that there were only 12 survivors from S-21.
An eerie coincidence that this senate resolution to honor the victims of the genocide was randomly given the number 21. I believe it was meant to be. Senate Resolution 21 (SR-21) states:
"The Cambodian Genocide Memorial Week will honor the survivors and their descendants for their courage and contributions to our state and country. This week will serve as a way to remember those who lost their lives in Cambodia and in genocides around the world; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, That the Senate hereby recognizes the week of April 13 to April 17, 2015, inclusive, as Cambodian Genocide Memorial Week, and calls upon all Californians to observe the week by participating in appropriate activities and programs; and be it further"
Read the full Senate Resolution 21
Thank you, Senator Ricardo Lara and his amazing staff for working so hard for the Cambodian community to introduce this resolution. It means so much.
Watch videos of this historic moment:
Thank you Seak Smith, Suely Saro, and everyone who was part of giving us this important moment in history.
We will continue to shine with hope, love, and unity towards a brighter future. Applaudes for everyone who came out to show support on this day of history, remembrance, and healing.