Why Khmer Rouge victims play theater – VPRO Metropolis


Hi, welcome to Cambodia. Many young Cambodians
have psychological problems… due to the traumatic events
their parents have experienced. During the reign
of the Khmer Rouge … about one and a half million
people have been killed. Today I meet Sangthorn. He talked with his mother
about this difficult period. He wants to encourage
young people to do the same. Is this the place where
you have worked? Yes, this is where I worked then. I harvested rice. Were you forced to do that? Yes, it was a difficult time
under the regime of Pol Pot. We did not have spare time.
We just had to work. They beat us at it
making the smallest mistakes. They made sure that we continued to work. It was a difficult period
for more than three years. The Vietnamese eventually liberated us. Only then could we rest… and work normally. When did you start talking with
your mother about the Khmer Rouge? I started talking with my mother
when I was in the eight grade. At home he asked me questions. I answered pretty much
all his questions. We had a hard time during
the Pol Pot regime. It affected us a lot. I wanted my son to know
about the history of Pol Pot… and the damage it caused. They beat us and starved us. I wanted to tell him
how difficult that time was. Sometimes she started crying.
She had tears in her eyes. I gave her a hug,
so she did not have to cry. That’s because it was
a very difficult time. Sangthorn wants to share
the experience he had with his mother… with other young people. He does this as an actor. It was at Koh Kunthea, in 1978. Memories of the survivors
of the Khmer Rouge are heartbreaking. They think that when they keep
the stories long enough to themselves… they automatically forget everything. Our theater project tries to make
these stories negotiable. And talks to the young generation
about what happened. I remember it now.
It was you, sister. Your mother was Jampaa.
– Yes. I completely remember now. Have you talked with your parents
or grandparents about the Khmer Rouge? I’ve talked a lot about it… especially with my father… because he lost his father back then. He had a tough life… In which he is separated
from his parents at a young age. He was forced to do work
not unsuitable for children… and he had to wear a uniform
that was too big for his age. He had to do work… that most children
would not be able to do. One day he was about to be killed… so he had to change his
name and identity … in order to stay alive. Come, quickly, follow me.
We can go now. Go where? To a safer place. What about my mother? No worries.
I will pick her up later. Do you feel sorry for your father? Yes. I become sentimental
because he is my father. But his story does inspire me… and shows me that our lives
are not that tough now. If I have problems or if I
don’t have energy to continue… his story inspires me. I was unconscious for a moment. I was called a traitor. I’m sorry to hear that. I find it difficult to talk
with my parents or grandparents… about the Khmer Rouge. Why do you think it’s so
difficult to discuss this topic? What we learn in high school
is not enough. The Khmer Rouge reigned for
more than three years… It has had a big impact on it
our society. It simply does not translate
into few pages in a schoolbook. Yes my friend.
That is very smart! One, two, three. Love during the night. I take your hand Do not be angry. I think the problem
is also partly political. When we dive deep into history… we see that there current
political leaders were involved… with regime of the Khmer Rouge. So it can be dangerous for us
to openly talk about it. Sometimes our families forbid us
to speak about the topic… because it is heartbreaking
and too emotional. Some young people do not know
with whom they can talk about it. Be brave!
Bye. After the performance,
the audience can talk to someone… who survived the Khmer Rouge. I believe that from all people
who listen to my speeches… someone will be a leader
in the future. I want all of these people to
know something about what happened. And to use their brains
to think logically… and not just to keep their
personal goals in mind. We now have a better understanding
of what happened during this period … and what peace means. It is not easy to get over
the traumas of the Khmer Rouge. But Sangthorn knows that it is possible,
also for the next generation. Thanks for watching… and do not forget to leave
a comment below this video. Bye!

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