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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 12:37 GMT
Killing Fields memorials 'to stay'
By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh

A Cambodian boy looks at a display of skulls at the Choeung Ek memorial
Many in Buddhist Cambodia are uncomfortable with the display
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has turned down calls for the remains of thousands of victims of the Khmer Rouge to be cremated.

He said it was important for the skulls to stay on display as evidence that millions died during the late 1970s.

One memorial stupa, at Choeung Ek, has become the best-known site of the so-called Killing Fields.

The trials of the surviving former leaders of the Khmer Rouge are due to start later this year.

Tourist attractions

Memorials like the glass-sided structure at Choeung Ek's genocide museum have become a focus of controversy.

Once they were quiet if grim reminders of what happened under Pol Pot's murderous regime, but now they have become tourist attractions.

More than 100,000 people visited Choeung Ek alone last year.

This has caused discomfort in a Buddhist country which largely believes that a body has to be cremated for its soul to escape.

But the prime minister says those concerns are outweighed by the need to make sure that no-one can deny what happened three decades ago.

Hun Sen's remarks come with the long-awaited Khmer Rouge trials still bogged down in disputes between local and international legal officials.

Meetings next month will attempt to resolve the difficulties involved in making sure that the special courts provide an international standard of justice within the Cambodian system.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Tourists visit a memorial to Khmer Rouge victims



SEE ALSO
Rocky road to Khmer Rouge trial
26 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge trials 'obstructed'
06 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Officials mull Khmer Rouge trials
20 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Long wait for Killing Fields justice
05 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge genocide admission
30 Dec 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Key figures in the Khmer Rouge
17 Mar 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant
14 Apr 00 |  Asia-Pacific

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