On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 13 Cambodian Community organizations and Cambodian survivors, young and old traveled by bus to Los Angeles County Kenneth Hahn building for the first time in history in almost four decades in Los Angeles County, to witness Supervisor Janice Hahn, 4th District proclaiming April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day. Here is her statement:
"Today is a historic day for the County of Los Angels. As this is the first time the Board of Supervisors will commemorate April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day. Under the Khmer Rouge Regime, Genocide and other crimes against humanity were committed against the people of Cambodia including religious groups and ethnic minorities. The Khmer Rouge Regime led to the death of an estimated 2 million people which equated to 21% of the nation's population. Countless victims have since shared their stories of imprisonment, starvation, slavery, rape and systematic forced marriage. The Khmer Rouge regime also sought to eliminate all aspects of Cambodian culture by killing those with education, separated families, and destroyed institution such as Buddhist temples, schools, libraries, dance and music. And while this community continues to cope with the atrocities they witnessed and experienced, the thriving Cambodian Community in Long Beach is a testament to the perseverance and unbreakable spirit of the Cambodian people to reestablish their community and enhance the cultural diversity of our state and nation. The Cambodian genocide was a human tragedy, and we must never forget the scale of violence and devastation perpetrated against the people of Cambodia. And equally as important, we must never forget the humanitarian spirit with which we welcomed this persecuted population to United States of America. Now, it is my distinct honor to welcome representatives from 13 Cambodian Community organizations to help us commemorate Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day, We have the following organizations with us:
1- Cambodian California-Sister State, Inc.
2- Khmer American Civic Engagement Committee
3- Cambodian Town Film Festival
4- United Cambodian Community
5- Cambodian Association of America
6-Families In Good Health
7- Khmer Parent Association
8- Khmer Girls In Action
9- Cambodia Town, Inc.
10-Cambodian Coordinating Council
11- Cambodian Health Profession Association of America
12- Khemera Buddhikaram Temple
13- and our very own Los Angeles County Cambodian Employee Association
I want to thank every one of you for coming down today and helping us to commemorate the first ever Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day in Los Angeles County."
Picture from Martin Zamora
Picture from Diandra Jay Panel..
I had a chance to ride a bus from Long Beach to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration building on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Early in the morning many survivors of different ages walked to board the bus to Los Angeles. It was a diverse group of Buddhist, Christians, a Pastor and his wife and community leaders. Most of them dressed in traditional Khmer outfits with Khmer signature scarves around their necks to reflect their Khmer identity. They were very happy and excited to attend the Supervisors meeting to hear Supervisor Janice Hahn Proclaim Tuesday, April 11 as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day. During the ride to LA, many talked about the loss of their loved ones that they will never forget and which affects their mental health. Some talked about how the Khmer Rouge Regime destroyed their teenage life and robbed them of being a child or teenager because they had to face tragedy and family separation at a very young age. Some talked about the deadly forced labor that still affects their quality of life, causing them to suffer many chronic conditions. When they arrived, they were greeted by Herlinda Chico, Field Deputy for Janice Hahn. She was very friendly and helpful and directed them to the auditorium for the Board meeting.
The purpose of this trip is to witness Supervisor Janice Hahn, for the first time in 36 years, historically proclaim April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day in Los Angles County means a world to them because it helped them finally put everything to rest and move forward with their lives. Three community leaders, Chan Hopson, Charles Song and Sereivuth Prak, spoke before the Board. Chan Hopson made the following public comment:
"Chumreap Suor Mr. Chairman and Members of the Board of Supervisors.
My name is Chan Hopson, Executive Director of the Khmer Parent Association and one of the partners of the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative that is comprised of UCC, CAA, KGA, Families In Good Health and KPA.
I'm here today and I'm speaking on behalf of the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative and all the Cambodian community in Long Beach. As a former educator, a Cambodian Genocide survivor and a refugee settled in Long Beach since 1980. I am very proud, and I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Supervisor Janice Hahn for making today a historic day for all of us by proclaiming April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day.
For almost 4 decades we have struggled to become contributing members of this great country that loves us and welcomes us and has become our new home, but it has been a difficult process while carrying painful memories and emotional scars. Your Proclamation helps to bring a sense of closure and justice for all of us. Thank you.
Your caring, deep empathy and compassion are very much appreciated and memorable. We would like to commend Supervisor Janice Hahn and her wonderful staff for working so hard to make today a historic day for all of us. Thank you. so much."
After the 13 organization representatives received the official scrolls from Supervisor Janice Hahn, we gathered outside in front of the building for a group picture. Chamnap, who was standing next to Supervisor Janice Hahn, said, "I am so blessed to meet you and have a chance to stand next to you." Supervisor Janice Hahn replied with a smile, "I am very blessed to meet and stand next to you, too".
All of us had a great day and joyfully rode the bus home to Long Beach. We were all tired when we got to Long Beach, but everyone was happy to be part of this historic event.
Riding the bus to the Kenneth Hahn building.
Herlinda Chico, Field Deputy of Supervisor Janice Hahn waiting outside to welcome us upon our arrival.
Pictures provided by Mark Hopson, Charles Song, and Chamnap In.