Posts Tagged ‘Pan Ron’

Remembering the Past

Monday, January 7th, 2013

January 7th is a national public holiday in Cambodia. Victory over Genocide Day, is an annual reminder of the ouster of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime on that day in 1979.

For Cambodians, the three years, eight months and twenty days that the Khmer Rouge were in power, forever changed their lives. Everyone was affected. The old and young, the rich and famous. Small ceremonies take place around the country on certain days of the year in remembrance of those that lost their lives, 7 January is one, 20 May is another which used to be called the National Day of Hatred, as well as at Pchum Ben, aka All Souls Day, in September.

Pan Ron

Pan Ron

The Khmer Rouge spared no-one. Pan Ron is one of the country’s most famous names. Alongwith Ros Sereysothea and Sinn Sisamouth, she was at the vanguard of Cambodian rock and roll music in the 60s and 70s and wrote and performed hundreds of songs that have become classics of her generation. She rose to prominence by dueting with Sisamouth in 1966 and there was no stopping her after that. That is until the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975 and tragically cut short her life, and that of as many of Cambodia’s artists in all genres, as they could find. For Pan Ron her death came quickly after the guerrilla force took over in April 1975. She was soon identified, which was inevitable considering her stardom, driven to a pagoda in Bati district and murdered. That pagoda is Wat Troap Kor in Takeo province, a site some 30-odd kms outside of the capital, Phnom Penh. According to eye witnesses, Pan Ron was taken with her two small nephews, blindfolded and marched behind the pagoda and murdered. The site, with its own small memorial stupa, is believed to have contained upwards of 40,000 people in a series of mass graves, victims of the Khmer Rouge’s killing frenzy. Pan Ron, like Sereysothea and Sisamouth, didn’t survive the Khmer Rouge regime but their legacy and their memory lives on in their timeless music for Cambodians today.

The memorial at Wat Troap Kor in Bati district - the resting place of Pan Ron

The memorial at Wat Troap Kor in Bati district – the resting place of Pan Ron