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Cambodia seeks gain from Pol Pot pain

The Khmer Rouge's main execution grounds has already been turned into a major tourist spot
The Khmer Rouge's main execution grounds has already been turned into a major tourist spot  

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia plans to turn the remote jungle hideout of Pol Pot, the infamous leader of the 1970s Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" regime, into a tourist spot.

Pol Pot died in April 1998 at his home in Anlong Veng, located about 320 km (200 miles) north of Phnom Penh on the Thai border.

The move to show Pol Pot's hideout to the world are part of this southeast Asian nation's bid to counter a slumping tourist industry, hurt by the September 11 terror attacks in America.

"First the government will develop the area for domestic tourists and the next step is to attract foreign tourists," Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth told Reuters news agency.

"We want Anlong Veng to be a tourist resort as it is both beautiful and historic," he said.

The home of feared Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok -- nicknamed "the butcher" and currently jailed awaiting the setting up of a U.N.-sponsored genocide tribunal -- will also be converted into a tourist attraction, the minister said

The communist Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot are blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people through torture, execution, hard labor and starvation between 1975-1979.

Cambodia has already developed the Khmer Rouge's main execution grounds -- known as the "Killing Fields" -- near the capital into a major stop for tourists.

Another grim reminder of the country's past, the former Khmer Rouge torture center, or S-21, is also open to the public.

Cambodian skulls
The Khmer Rouge are blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians during their 1975-79 rule  

The government has already repaired a road linking Anlong Veng with the tourist town Siem Reap, home of the world-renown 9th to 13th century Angkor Wat temple complex, the tourist minister said.

The drive now takes about three hours, compared to the eight to 10 it used to take. The government also plans to open a border crossing to Thailand.

None of the former Khmer Rouge leaders have yet stood trial for crimes committed during their brutal rule. But legislation to hold a U. N. assisted tribunal was passed by Cambodia in August and is awaiting U.N. approval.


• Cambodia marks grim anniversary
April 17, 2001

• Cambodian Government
• Phnom Penh Post

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