Landmine Museum Siem Reap (EN)

Landmine Museum Siem Reap (EN)

Whoever comes to Cambodia as a traveler and wants to seriously deal with the history of the country, will not be able to avoid fathoming the sometimes incredibly brutal chapters of the 20th century

Cambodia was involved in many conflicts: a civil war, the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge and the genocide committed by them against their own population, the bombing by the US-Americans and the occupation by the Vietnamese. All these terrible moments of history have made Cambodia one of the most mined countries in the world. Even today, dozens of Cambodians are injured or even killed by landmines every year, as not all mines have been detected yet. Experts estimate that it will take several decades before all mines can be completely removed.

In order to better understand the historical background and especially the current reality of life of the Cambodians with the landmines, a visit to the landmine museum Siem Reap is recommended. It is located about 25 kilometers north of the capital Siem Reap (near the Banteay Srey temple) and can be easily reached by tuk-tuk.

The Siem Reap Landmine Museum was founded by a former child soldier who, after returning to his home village, began collecting and defusing landmines by hand or with homemade tools. He collected these secured mines and eventually showed them to tourists for a small entrance fee. This was the basis for today’s museum. Then, in 1997, the museum was officially opened as such. He used the income generated in this way to care for children injured, rejected or orphaned by the mines, whom he had taken in with his wife.

Originally, the museum was located in the entrance area of Angkor Wat Park, but since 2007 it is now located at the site next to Banteay Srey Temple.

The museum’s mission is to educate tourists and locals about the long-term consequences of war and the use of landmines: Far too often we – especially those who are not affected by it – have the impression that the end of a war also means the end for the deprivations of the population. The Landmine Museum Siem Reap shows impressively what long-term consequences war has for the inhabitants of a country and for future generations. In addition, the museum continues to raise money for the demining of the country and for a school program for affected children. All in all, a visit to the museum is not only an insanely intense insight into the history of Cambodia, but also allows one to empathize with the problems of a “post-war” generation that is still struggling with the consequences of this sad chapter today.