In 2010, I wrote a reflection on a newspaper article who reported about the stampeded which cost more than three hundred lives of young festivalgoers on the last day of 2010 Cambodian Water Festival. In the article, the writer used a French word “Déjà vu” to refer his experience of witnessing the massive death of Cambodian people during the Pol Pot regime to the agonized images of the stampede
“It was not the Koh Pich stampede that attracted me to read the article but the word Déjà vu. The writer used many interesting and powerful adjectives to describe the scenes and emotions of the people. It takes about 15 minutes of my time to understand it and of course I have to read it twice. Sometimes, I have to check the dictionary to study the difficult words many times but I found out that they are the right words to tell readers how people feel at the particular time or event. In fact, the writer introduced an ongoing scene which followers could follow easily. The article also describes how he was awake by many ambulances’ sirens and the decision to get up to see what was happening. When he got to see the real picture of the Koh Pich stampede victims, he remembered how he witnessed innocent Cambodian people die massively during the Pol Pot regime. He seems to hear similar voices speaking in Khmer of agonized horror, of helplessly seeing their loved ones perish in agony. I think it is one of the reasons the journalist introduced the Déjà vu.”
It has been 4 years, and I believe the images of shouting and calling for help of those trapped victims still haunts many of us. The image of death itself creates a sense of the Déjà vu not only to the writer but to many Cambodians who witness the toll death during the 70s in the Cambodian tragic history and the 2010 stampede.
In 2010, there was a national mourning day after the tragic stampede. I am not sure if there is the mourning day this year. However, though lives go on, the day will be always in our hearts. Let remember the 2010 stampede.
Note: due to the sensitive issue of the photo, another unrelated photo is replaced.