When a Dong-A Ilbo reporter visited the office of the executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia on Monday, there were piles of books on his desk and the floor. Words such as "holocaust" and "genocide" caught the reporter's eyes.
"These books show that debates on genocide are still going on," said the director, Youk Chhang, who was named last week as a winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, also known as "Asia's Nobel Peace Prize," for having collected documents and evidence on the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 atrocities symbolized by the "killing fields."
"The best way to overcome the horrible past is education," he said. "We cannot move forward to the future without learning and understanding past failures." Cambodia teaches about the Khmer Rouge as a mandatory lesson in high schools from 2009.
"Although the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948, there is not a single case in which the world prevented genocide," he said. Regarding the "Muslim phobia" spreading around the world, he noted, "If we neglect hatred, people will keep their prejudices that could lead to genocide." He also stressed that countries around the world should implement policies for educating on and preventing genocide "in order to prevent past mistakes being repeated."