In Spring 2009, the Institute welcomed three staff members from the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) who participated in a three-month internship program to support DC-Cam’s ongoing effort to collect testimony from survivors of the genocide perpetrated in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge regime, which claimed as many as two million lives.
Since 1995, DC-Cam has catalogued hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and thousands of photographs, mapped 189 prisons and 19,403 mass graves, and gathered extensive bibliographic, biographic, photographic, and geographic databases of information related to the genocide.
Last year, DC-CAM expressed interest in learning about the Institute’s experiences collecting, cataloguing and indexing, preserving, and disseminating testimony given by Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. The two organizations determined that an internship program would facilitate an exchange of knowledge and provide insight into how DC-Cam might adapt elements of the Institute’s methodology, documentation, and practices for use in Cambodia.
Bunthy Chey, Fatily Sa, and Ratanak Leng traveled from Phnom Penh to Los Angeles in February. Working closely with staff at the Institute, the interns developed a 43-page draft pre-interview questionnaire (PIQ) for use with Cambodian genocide survivors, based upon the PIQ the Institute used when conducting interviews with Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. They also conducted two pilot interviews with Cambodian genocide survivors living in the Los Angeles area, began to index the pilot interviews, and examined how the Institute uses technology to digitize and provide access to testimony.
The Documentation Center of Cambodia has begun to incorporate what they have learned (as appropriate) into their interviews and broaden the scope of interviews DC-Cam conducts to include information about genocide survivors’ experiences before and after the Khmer Rouge period (1975–1979), as well as during those years.