In Cambodia, January 7 is a national holiday. Schools close for the day, and at night fireworks light up the sky. Yesterday marked the 33rd anniversary of the day that the Vietnamese invaded, expelling the Khmer Rouge and ending the genocide of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
Yesterday as we passed by the compound of the CPP (Cambodian People's Party) here in Siem Reap, we noticed about 1000 chairs set up under tents, and imagined they'd be marking the anniversary at an elaborate ceremony with speeches. As we watched the fireworks display from the rooftop of the Golden Takeo, it appeared to originate from that location.
We've heard that not everybody is happy with the celebrations, though it's not openly discussed. Occasionally we hear that real freedom only began when the Vietnamese left the country in 1991. Sadly, no major Khmer Rouge commander has ever faced justice for the atrocities of their rule. Although we've heard and read that several Khmer Rouge higher-ups are facing trial, these prisoners are in their eighties, feeble and frail, and few people believe they will ever get their just desserts.
As for us, we don't form opinions, we don't take sides, and we don't judge. We are guests in this country and we respect their laws and customs. We read what we can about the history of this country, and try to understand the past. We are here to give what little we are able, to help a few individuals develop a brighter future for themselves.
And whenever there are fireworks, you'll probably find me on some rooftop taking it all in, waiting to see if the next burst of colour is better than the one before. No matter what the occasion, it's always fun to 'Oooh and Ahhh' at all the pretty lights, and be a kid again.
|(fuzzy, but still pretty!)|