GOALS

PROCESS

LOCATION

LEARN MORE

The Justice & History Outreach Project and Trainer of Trainers Project (TOT) sought to help Cambodians deal with the lingering effects of the Khmer Rouge atrocities in the 1970's.

CAMBODIA

 

  • Help villagers confront traumatic experiences associated with the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge

  • Give a voice to the rural villagers during the ongoing Khmer Rouge Tribunal

  • Training of the Trainers (TOT): To increase the capacity of local Cambodians in past project sites to continue leadership in having discussions of the past and handle conflicts rooted within that history.

  • To support survivors who endured the tragedy in different developmental stages.

  • Teach lessons to the global community about the dangers of ethnic and religious conflict and its incitement, and the importance of reconciliation

GOALS

 

PROCESS

  • The victims have not previously shared their pained memories. Therefore, their family members often do not understand the extent of the tragedy occurred. Through dialogue, villagers bridge the intergenerational divide that exists between the victims and their family members.

  • Train the Trainers to develop leadership skills, confidence and responsibility to handle conflicts in their locality

  • Provide regular trainings on conflict resolution to international and local organizations in Cambodia. More than a dozen NGOs and local universities have been trained by the ICFC on issues of conflict resolution, sustained dialogue and historical conciliation.  

 

The project sought to:

 

  • Understand how Cambodians living in rural and remote areas discuss issues of history and justice in their everyday lives

  • Give rural Cambodians a platform to share their opinions about such issues in a safe space

  • Communicate the voice of this marginalized population to the able authorities and officials in a position

  • Help provincial NGOs and local authorities meet the needs of their populations regarding efforts to deal with history and justice

  • Build the local capacity of Cambodians by training them in the Historical Conciliation methodology and offering them the tools to continue to sustain the approach

  • Provide medical assistance to survivor population and to ensure government policy is supportive of providing the special assistance that such people and their children need to live normal lives.

 

LOCATION

The ICFC has worked in 11 villages in rural Cambodia for four years. The ICFC also been in communication with Cambodians in the USA and other diaspora communities.

 

LEARN MORE

Our training and organizing in Cambodia predated the establishment of the Center as an organization. The Center’s work in Cambodia was run through a staff office in Phnom Penh until 2012. As a result of the successes of the program as well as the competence of local staff, we believed that Cambodian citizens could run this organization without the intervention of a foreign agency. This autonomy contributed to the influence and the legitimacy of the organization in Cambodia. It eliminated the era that such work was considered to be the primary concern of foreigners,​ rather than young Cambodian citizens, who were devoted to their own state, society, communities, and people.

 

Before the ICFC began work in Cambodia, no initiatives existed that were designed to determine the needs of Cambodians - specifically the 85 percent rural population - focusing on how history and justice affect their lives. In response to this vacuum, the ICFC created an outreach program: the Justice and History Outreach Project (JHO). This program is based on the belief that the most effective materials and discussions come from the needs as they are expressed by rural Cambodians themselves.

 

The villages are chosen based on the background of the village chief, the harsh experiences endured by the population in recent history, and the presence of a well-established and suitable local NGO. ICFC staff completed several phases of assessment to identify appropriate activities. This included: convening dialogues among the villagers, bringing villagers to Phnom Penh to tour the Toul Sleng museum, and scheduling meetings with Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) officials. With the support of a grant from the Open Society Institute, ICFC worked with local partner NGOs and villages in five provinces: Svay Rieng, Battambang, Takeo, Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang. In addition, the grant from DED, the German Civil Peace Service, is supporting the expansion of this project. It allowed to expand to new villages and for staff to continue work in all of the villages.

 

The Khmer Rouge regime left a nationwide legacy of poor conflict management skills and a culture of avoidance in discussing problems. More specifically, the Khmer Rouge regime damaged the basic infrastructure of Cambodian society (e.g. community solidarity and reliance on elders) and the traditional method of resolving conflicts (e.g. local authority or elders as mediators). By providing training in dialogue facilitation and mediation techniques, ICFC Cambodia further empowers villagers - including respected village leaders and females - to resolve local everyday problems instead of ignoring them.

 

36 villagers received training in dialogue facilitation and mediation techniques. Of those 36 villagers, 11 volunteered to be local facilitators. These local facilitators conducted their own dialogues in which 81 villagers participated. These dialogue participants were often former Khmer Rouge cadres or base people, who also discussed their own sense of victimization during the Khmer Rouge time period. One local facilitator in Prey Veng said: “After I participated in the program, I gained knowledge and skills in interviewing and facilitating discussion in the community. Before, I did not have experience in this. This work provided a good opportunity for me to understand how to improve community life.”

 

Furthermore, the Training Of Trainer program helped villagers understand the importance of resolving conflicts, as opposed to the cultural norm of keeping quiet and avoiding disagreements. One local facilitator in Kampot province said: “Resolving conflicts improves the spirit of the family, community, and the whole country.” He later discussed how the training and project work with former Khmer Rouge cadres made him believe in the importance of reconciling relations between victims and former Khmer Rouge to increase the strength and solidarity of the community. This belief translated to project participants, with many villagers and former Khmer Rouge feeling less fearful and more at ease to speak about their experiences during the Khmer Rouge regime.

 

 

Further Readings

 

This project is highlighted in the annual report of Extraordinary Chambers of Court of Cambodia (ECCC, also known as Khmer Rouge tribunal) for its effective outreach work among the rural Cambodians. See pages 8 and 9 of this report: ECCC Report, February 2011

 

More general information about the ICFC in Cambodia:

 

 

Stories of Survivors: First hand accounts from workshop participants:

 

 

CONTACT US

 

(617) 372-4980
hlevine@centerforconciliation.org

 

78 Phillips Street, # 8
Boston, MA 02115

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