The Naga For Peace Statue in Battambang, Cambodia was designed by Mr. Ou Vaandy. He teaches art at Cambodia’s National Institute of Education in Phenom Phen.
“The teeth are made from bayonets. The Khmer Rouge would stab people to save bullets. The rest of the Naga heads were made from cut up AK-47 machine guns,” says Mr. Vanndy.
After the war, the Japanese government paid for a program to collect and destroy guns from former Khmer Rouge soldiers.
“They’d collect guns and in exchange build the village a water well or something else useful – in order to get the guns out of people’s hands.”
The statue’s structure resembles a traditional Khmer harvesting sickle. This forms the “tail”. Then Mr. Vanndy added five Naga heads to represent the Cambodian people.
“An ancient hindu legend says the Khmer people descended from the Naga.”
It’s estimated that the Khmer Rouge murdered 2 million of their own Cambodian citizens – including Mr. Vanndy’s father, aunt and uncle.
Mrs. Phallay Chey lives in Battambang. She remembers going to the movies after Cambodia’s genocide. The Khmer Rouge destroyed almost every reel of film in the country. After the war, Mrs. Chey went back and watched again Cambodian stars on the big screen – like Ampor Devi (អម្ពរ ទេវី), Sam Vichea (សំវិជា) and Tep Rindaro (ទេព រិនដារ៉ូ). Now Battambang’s historical movie theaters are being demolished. Only two survive – the “Golden Temple” and the Battambang Cinema.