Every 20 May in Cambodia is a public holiday called “National Day of Remembrance” The holiday was instituted in 1984 as a way to remember the massive genocidal killings that took place in Cambodia during the bloody days of the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979.
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The 20 May was chosen as the date of the holiday since it was on 20 May 1976 that the first mass killings of the genocide period occurred.
National Day of Remembrance is still celebrated by the people of Cambodia even though the genocide it looks back to took place some 40 years ago. But the celebrations have been getting noticeably smaller scale over the years.
In Phnom Penh, people go to the nearby Choeung Ek Fields, a mass grave of the victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide to perform Buddhist religious ceremonies. It is a sombre time of remembrance of past atrocities, but by remembering those dark days, the people of Cambodia hope to be vigilant to prevent their ever happening again.