Taking Transitional Justice to Cambodia’s Youth


This January marked 40 years since Vietnamese forces toppled Pol Pot’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime. By 1979, 1.7 million Cambodians, almost a quarter of the country’s population had been murdered or had died of disease, starvation, or exhaustion from forced labor.

With around 70 percent of Cambodia’s population under the age of 30, acknowledging the wrongs of the past and providing guarantees of non-repetition has meant finding ways to engage with a generation born after the end of the civil war. Much of this effort has been centered on designing and implementing changes to Cambodia’s school curriculum, producing new history textbooks detailing the Khmer Rouge period, and providing training to high school history teachers. But new textbooks only go so far, as Cambodian youth are becoming integrated into the world of communications, technology, and entertainment.

The Bophana Centre aims to keep Cambodia’s youth engaged with their country’s history and to foster intergenerational dialogue and understanding through its mobile app, AppLearning on Khmer Rouge History. The app educates young people about Cambodia’s history and encourages them to talk to their parents about their experiences. Used as a history teaching tool in schools, the app has reached 60,000 students and achieved 45,000 downloads since its launch in the middle of 2017. Although it initially presented eight chapters on Khmer Rouge history, it now includes four more chapters, along with the direct testimonies of survivors.

Read more here.

The Interpreter