The department of Media and Communication (DMC) at the Royal University of Phnom Penh has launched a mobile app and website – Mapping Memories Cambodia (MMC) – to help the public, especially young people, learn about the important locations associated with the Khmer Rouge regime.
Students at DMC spent a year investigating the sites and interviewing survivors of the Pol Pot regime. The app marks significant locations from that time on a map and guides users to where historical events happened.
MMC enables users and survivors to submit their stories to the project team, allowing the ongoing collection of testimonies and mapping places of remembrance throughout Cambodia.
It sheds light on individual memories of everyday lives during the Khmer Rouge regime that seldom emerges in the common historical narrative, creating space for public commemoration.
Users can read and listen to stories told by survivors, experts and historians in the multimedia format through articles, short documentary films, podcasts and photo galleries.
The project aims to educate today’s generation on issues such as arranged marriage, forced labour on large dam projects, religious abuse and the Khmer Rouge’s foreign policy.
At the launch ceremony on Saturday, MMC project manager Chan Muyhong said the app and website were created by students at DMC with support from the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and factual verification by the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
She said the team will continue to work on the project to add more content and “make it even more special and interesting”.
“Students, like many Cambodian people, use digital technology like smartphones and tablets to get information from the media. Therefore, it was obvious that it would be a convenient option to choose a smartphone app to communicate issues regarding the Khmer Rouge regime,” she said.
Chan Muyhong said the app and website are bilingual, with multimedia stories available in Khmer and English.
“Similar to Facebook, anyone can add comments to a place they are interested in or provide additional information about the location,” she said.
Muyhong said the project, which was scheduled to run from February 2018 to March 2019, had so far mapped 18 provinces and municipalities. It included Phnom Penh and the provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap.
After March, the MMC app and website will continue to share knowledge and stories about the Khmer Rouge and include the work of future DMC students.
Ung Bun Y, the project’s initiator and DMC acting director, said MMC was established to encourage young Cambodians to use modern technology to investigate stories of the Khmer Rouge at historical locations and foster discussion with their peers and families.
“Many current problems in Cambodian society are rooted in the tragedies of the Khmer Rouge regime. The next generation of young people should study Cambodia’s history in order to understand that the past influences their current livelihood and present day society."
“Conversation is an important device to teach the public about the connection between the past and present,” Bun Y said.