Founded in 2012 by Wilfried Agricola de Cologne, the Cologne based media artist and curator, The Cambodia 1975-1979 Memorial – is commemorating the genocide executed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

The Cambodian genocide (Khmer: ហាយនភាពខ្មែរ or ការប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ខ្មែរ) was carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime under the leadership of Pol Pot, and it resulted in the deaths of between 1.671 and 1.871 million people from 1975 to 1979, or 21 to 24 percent of Cambodia’s 1975 population (c. 7.8 million).The Khmer Rouge wanted to turn the country into a socialist agrarian republic, founded on the policies of ultra-Maoism. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge changed the name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea. In order to fulfill their goals, the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced Cambodians to relocate to labor camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labor, physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were prevalent. This resulted in the death of approximately 25 percent of Cambodia’s total population. Approximately 20,000 people passed through the Tuol Sleng Centre (also known as Security Prison S-21), one of the 196 prisons operated by the Khmer Rouge, and only 7 adults survived. The prisoners were taken to the Killing Fields, where they were executed (often with pickaxes in order to save bullets) and buried in mass graves. The abduction and indoctrination of children was widespread, and many were persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. The genocide triggered a second outflow of refugees, many of whom escaped to neighboring Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, Thailand. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia ended the genocide by defeating the Khmer Rouge in 1979.
Ideology played an important role in the genocide. Pol Pot was influenced by Marxism and desired an entirely self-sufficient agrarian society free from all foreign influences. Stalin’s work has been described as a “crucial formative influence” on Pol Pot’s thought. Also heavily influential was the work of Mao Zedong, particularly his On New Democracy. In the mid-1960s, Pol Pot reformulated his ideas about Marxism–Leninism to better suit the Cambodian situation aimed to bring Cambodia back to its “mythic past” of the powerful Khmer Empire, to stop corrupting influences like foreign aid and western culture, and to restore the country to an agrarian society. Attempts to implement these goals were key factors in the ensuing genocide. One Khmer Rouge leader said that the killings were meant for the “purification of the populace.

The Khmer Rouge forced virtually the entire population of Cambodia into mobile work teams. Michael Hunt said that it was “an experiment in social mobilization unmatched in twentieth-century revolutions.” The Khmer Rouge used an inhumane forced labor regime, starvation, forced resettlement, land collectivization, and state terror to keep the population in line.

Historian Ben Kiernan has compared the Cambodian genocide to the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany. While each was unique, they shared certain common features. Racism was a major part of the ideology of all three of the genocidal regimes. All three targeted religious minorities and tried to use force of arms to expand into what they believed to be their historical heartlands (the Khmer Empire, Turkestan, and Lebensraum respectively), while all three regimes “idealized their ethnic peasantry as the true ‘national’ class, the ethnic soil from which the new state grew.”

After being initiated in 2012, in 2013, the film collection was presented for the 1st time to a public audience.

In 2012, the second collection “Cambodia 1975-1979” followed -consisting primarily of documentaries – is dealing with the Cambodian genocide 1975-1979. It is a collaboration between Wilfried Agricola de Cologne /artvideoKOELN international, nico Mesterharm/MetaHOUSE – German-Cambodian Cultural Centre Phnom Penh and DMF @ Royal University of Phnom Penh & GIZ Phnom Penh.

The collection includes videos by young Cambodian film makers educated at the filmschool @ MetaHouse Phnom Penh and Depart6ment of Film and Media @ the Royal university. All videos try to re-establish an own induividual and collective identity by reflecting the genocide all Cambodian families are suffering from.

The film collection is a corporate part of the audiovisual art collections @ The New Museum of Networked Art.
in 2017, the film collection was included in the global networking project – The W:OW Project – We Are One Worldhttp://wow.engad.org, and later this year transformed into “the Memorial for the Victims of Genocide”, not only related to the genocide in Cambodia, but any genocide, happening before and after Cambodia.

In 2018, the memorial became corporate part of the media art context – “The 7 Memorials for Humanity”http://7mfh.a-virtual-memorial.org

The Cambodia Film Collection

Molyka Bin (Cambodia), DCM – Royal University of Cambodia & students of film department, Neang Kavich (Cambodia), Nico Mesterham (Cambodia), Nico Mesterham (Cambodia)/Mark Hammond (USA)
MetaHouse Phnom Penh (Cambodia) & students of film school, Sopheak Sao (Cambodia), Chhuon Sarin (Cambodia)