Cambodia seeks Unesco listing for traditional scarf and genocide museum

Krama - the versatile traditional scarf that is a symbol of Cambodian identity.

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): Senior officials from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts are currently preparing documents to apply for krama – a versatile traditional scarf, or garment – as well as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, to the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage and World Heritage Lists.

Kong Puthika, director-general of the National Authority for Preah Vihear (NAPV) and ministry spokesperson, made the announcement during a Sept 19 press conference, held to celebrate the return of minister Phoeung Sakona and her delegation from the 45th session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee in Saudi Arabia.

During the session, the Koh Ker archaeological site in Preah Vihear province was added to the World Heritage List.

“I’ve been informed that the minister is in the process of preparing documentation to request the inclusion of krama on the Intangible Heritage List. This aligns with our expectations, and we’re committed to making additional efforts,” said Puthika.

“In addition, [Sackona] has made significant progress on a proposal for the inclusion of Tuol Sleng on the Unesco World Heritage List. This will ensure that the world never forgets the tragic events that occurred in Cambodia, and serves as a lesson that it should never be repeated anywhere else,” he added.

Puthika noted that studies are ongoing regarding the potential inclusion of several other temples.

History lecturer Sambo Manara pointed on Sept 20 that the ministry is not only focused on temples, but aims to promote a deeper understanding of the nation’s historical evolution.

“The inclusion of krama is particularly fitting because it’s a symbol of our national identity, intricately woven into the fabric of educational and cultural traditions and thus contributes to the evolution of knowledge,” he explained.

He said the idea is to educate people about the significance of using krama, as well as the value the weaving and craftsmanship of the versatile scarf.

He added that Tuol Sleng serves as a place for collective remembrance to prevent a repeat of the atrocities inflicted during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, and facilitating intergenerational learning.

“The museum stands as a vivid testament to history, allowing people worldwide to comprehend that the misdeeds and misguidance of leaders, coupled with the embrace of ambiguous ideologies, result in grave consequences for society and unfathomable suffering,” he said.

“Inscribing the museum on the list serves the greater good of safeguarding the world. By remembering, we not only protect Cambodian people but all of humanity,” he added.

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Cambodia , Unesco , scarf , genocide , museum


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