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Written by Magnus   
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 16:19

On the road from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei, one of the Angkor temples lies the "Cambodia Landmine Museum". The museum is founded and run by Mr Aki Ra.

In 1978, when he was 5 years old, both Aki Ras parents where killed by the Khmer Rouge and he was soon after that recruited as a soldier. As a soldier Mr Aki Ra became an expert in laying mines, and mines is what he has been working with since he was 12 years old. He was trained by the Communist Khmer Rouge guerrilla movement in the early 1980's. -and he continued laying mines for the Vietnamese Army after he had been captured by them, and then when the Vietnamese withdraw in 1989 he the layed mines for the Cambodian government...

After the wars estimates are that 10 million mines, or more,  had been layed in the Cambodian ground. These mines has become an obsession to Mr Aki Ra, he joined a mine clearance team in the early 1990's. He found that he had kind of a sixth sense towards avoiding hidden minefields and he is now clearing them up to 50 a day....

His fascination of the mines made him start collect some of the mines that where cleared and from his mine clearing earnings he bought a piece of land just next to the main road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat ((a million+ visitors visit Angkor every year)) and he put his mines on display there. The museum has since then been forced (?) to move ((rumors are that the General that started the War museum near the airport in Siem Reap wanted to get rid of the competition... I have visited both, I think they both are worth a visit, but for different reasons)). Mr Aki Ra had the museum moved to a more secluded spot on the road to Banteay Srei.

Entrance fee is $2 US (2007) and they sell some souvenirs. But Mr Aki Ra does more then that, the museum employs landmine victims and he still helps villagers / farmers to clear unsafe land.

One at a time, refers to Mr Aki Ra's "slogan" about the slow an painful job of clearing Cambodia and the World of mines...

 

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Source: based loosely on an article in The New York Times, International, Thursday December 28 2000.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2009 13:46
 
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