At the heart of Phnom Penh are two memorials celebrating Cambodia’s independence: the Independence Monument and Liberation Memorial. The former is a memorial commemorating the country’s independence from the 90-year rule of France in 1953. This very prominent structure of a Buddhist stupa resembling those in Angkor Wat was built in 1958 and inaugurated in 1962. On the other hand, the Liberation Memorial is the younger landmark, having been built in 1979 to commemorate the Vietnamese capture of Phnom Penh and the end of the bloody reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge army.
Just a simple Stalin-style marker, the Liberation Memorial is not as impressive as the Independence Monument. For one, the Cambodian people or Khmers do not give much regard to it since their history under the Vietnamese was not very pleasant. In fact, the locals neglected the memorial for 20 years and turned it into a convenient urinal. Yet, the Khmers are forever thankful to the Viet Cong for freeing them from Pol Pot’s iron hands. [Read more…]