'Field of Widows' after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Painting by Svay Ken.

Since 1995, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) has been at the forefront of documenting the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era. With nearly one million pages of documents, we have built a reputation as an international leader in the quest for memory and justice. Our goal has been not only to document Cambodia's tragic history, but also to help Cambodians heal.

To ensure that we may continue our efforts, DC-Cam is establishing a permanent center called the Sleuk Rith Institute. The name of our Institute reflects our core objectives as well as our Cambodian heritage. Sleuk riths are dried leaves that Cambodian religious leaders and scholars have used for centuries to document history, disseminate knowledge, and preserve culture during periods of harsh rule. They represent both the beauty of knowledge and the power of human perseverance during times of peril.

The Sleuk Rith Institute aims to be the leading center for genocide studies in Asia. It will consist of three major pillars: a museum, a research center and a school. The museum will serve as a public archive of the history of Cambodia where locals and visitors can come not only to learn about the history of the Khmer Rouge, but also to enjoy a quiet place for reflection and healing. The research center will allow DC-Cam to continue its work compiling, analyzing and preserving information about the Pol Pot era. It will also welcome scholars from around the world that are interested in studying human rights atrocities in Cambodia and beyond. The school will educate leading Cambodian students about Cambodia's history as well as certain principles of law and human rights in an effort to build a more promising future.

To achieve this vision, we are developing detailed plans for each of the Institute's components. We are also working to build a physical facility to house the Institute, and we are working with Cambodians and concerned members of the international community to obtain the required financial support. Finally, we have devised a plan of action for the next three years to build on our current operations, establish a number of new programs, and advance our vision for the Institute.

The Sleuk Rith Institute is not only about Cambodia's past, but also about its future. As Cambodia emerges from its tragic history, the Sleuk Rith Institute will provide new ways for Cambodians to remember, to heal and most importantly to move forward.

Youk Chhang