Day of Remembrance in Cambodia in 2024

Day of Remembrance in Cambodia in 2024
  How long until Day of Remembrance?
There are no upcoming dates for this event
  Dates of Day of Remembrance in Cambodia
2019 Cambodia Mon, May 20 National Holiday
2018 Cambodia Sun, May 20 National Holiday

A day to respect and pray for the victims who passed away under the Democratic Kampuchea regime

When is the Day of Remembrance?

Until 2020, the Day of Remembrance was a national public holiday in Cambodia on May 20th. It was removed from the list of Public Holidays in Cambodia in a shake-up in 2020 to reduce the number of holidays from 28 to 22.

This holiday commemorates Cambodia's turbulent recent history when it was ruled by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979.

History of the Day of Remembrance

The Royal Government of Cambodia declared the National Day of Remembrance as a public holiday in 2018, according to the sub-decree dated February 14th 2018 signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin.

According to the sub-decree, the holiday is to “respect and pray for the victims who passed away from Democratic Kampuchea regime”. It is as a public holiday, to give all citizens the opportunity to organise their religious and traditional ceremonies. 

The state of Kampuchea, officially known as Democratic Kampuchea to the period between 1975 and 1979 when Cambodia was under the one-party Marxist-Leninist communist rule of the Khmer Rouge. 

During this time, the Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, was responsible for the deaths of millions of Cambodians through forced labour, starvation, disease and genocide. Many died and were buried in mass graves in the so-called "killing fields" just outside of the capital, Phnom Penh.

In January 1979,  a coalition of Cambodian and Vietnamese troops forced Pol Pot and his followers from power. This event is marked by its own public holiday, the Victory over Genocide Day.

Although the first official recognition of the Day of Remembrance as a public holiday was in 2018, this holiday was first inaugurated in 1984 as the "Day of Hatred against the genocidal Pol Pot-Ieng Sary-Khieu Samphan clique and the Sihanouk-Son Sann reactionary groups" by the Vietnamese backed government, shortly after the removal of the Khmer Rouge regime.

On this day, hundreds of people and government officials will gather at the Choeung Ek killing fields on the outskirts of the capital to honour the victims who died during the Pol Pot regime. In 2019, a group of students from the University of Fine Arts re-enacted atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, and 207 Buddhist monks held a religious ceremony honouring victims.

Speaking on May 20th 2019, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on all Cambodian people to maintain peace and to prevent the return of the Khmer Rouge regime. "The National day of remembrance is marked to remind of and pay respect to the souls of three million victims who died during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime", Mr Hun Sen said.

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