Monday, August 01, 2005

Japanese charity fund launched to help victims of Khmer Rouge

(Kyodo) _ A private Japanese charity fund was launched Monday in Cambodia as a "symbolic gesture" to console and support people facing psychological, physical and economic difficulties as a result of the policies and actions of the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime.

The Dr. Handa Compensation and Memorial Fund for Victims of the Khmer Rouge Genocide was initiated by the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh with a reserve budget of $1.3 million for the initial three years.

It was named after its main contributor, Japanese philanthropist Haruhisa Handa, who is also the university's chancellor and heads the Japanese charity organization World Mate, as well as various other business, charitable, cultural and religious organizations.

Of the $1.3 million, Handa personally contributed $300,000 while the remainder comes from World Mate.

Handa said the project will soon commence with a planned initial allocation for 10,000 victim families, each of which will receive $100 in cash.

He said he hopes that further support for the fund will arrive from other sources.

"The fund...is really intended to make positive contributions to the Cambodian society by providing a token of compensation, in its own way, for those who died as well as for those who survived the Khmer Rouge regime," Handa said.

"I truly feel that there is no way -- in whatever terms -- that we can fully compensate anyone for the tremendous loss of many lives, as well as those who had survived the Khmer Rouge regime," he said.

Khmer Rouge leaders are blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians in late 1970s.

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