Press Releases

Trahan, Garcia Introduce Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) and Congressman Robert Garcia (CA-42) introduced legislation to designate April 17, 2025 as Cabodian Genocide Remembrance Day to recognize the 50th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge, which went on to murder nearly 2 million Camodians.

“Today, we mark the solemn anniversary of the start of the Cambdian genocide that saw nearly two million innocent citizens murdered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime. By dedicating this day as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day, we commit to never forgetting the atrocities committed, to cherishing the lives that were ended far too soon, and to continuing the hard work necessary to ensure it never happens again,” said Congresswoman Trahan, Chair of the Congressional Cambodia Caucus. “There is strong support in Congress for the Cambodian people, and we will continue to reaffirm America’s commitment to the upholding of human rights and democratic values in Cambodia.”

“On the 49th anniversary of the Cambodian genocide, we honor the two million lives taken by the Khmer Rouge regime and the hundreds of thousands still in diaspora. This atrocity will never be forgotten. America will always stand in solidarity with the Cambodian people and will always be a safe haven for those who have suffered under violence and tyranny,” said Congressman Garcia.

From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge and its leader Pol Pot engaged in a brutal, systematic genocide of innocent Cambodian citizens. By the time the Khmer Rouge was toppled, nearly 2 million Cambodians were killed, totaling almost 25 percent of the nation’s population. Thousands fled the killing fields for refugee camps in Thailand before being admitted to several nations, including the United States. Today, multiple communities are home to strong, vibrant Cambodia-American populations, including Lowell, Massachusetts and Long Beach, California.

In 2019, Lowell, Long Beach, and Los Angeles passed resolutions proclaiming April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day. In 2023, the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation authored by State Representative Vanna Howard, the first Cambodian American woman elected to a state legislature in the nation, and supported by State Representative Rady Mom, the first Cambodian American elected to a state legislature, to do the same.

“Today marks the 49th anniversary of the Cambodian genocide, when the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia and murdered close to 2 million Cambodians over the next four years, including many of my most precious family members,” said State Representative Howard. “The remembrance is certainly an important acknowledgement of all the survivors in our community. While we recommit ourselves to never forget the lives lost, we must also remain dedicated to ensuring that such an event never happens again, and that Cambodia will return to a free and fair democratic society, sooner than later. As a genocide survivor, I’m very proud the Massachusetts Legislature, for the first time in the history of Massachusetts, passed a House Resolution proclaiming April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day last year, and I’m pleased to see Congresswoman Trahan filing similar legislation at the federal level.”

“As a survivor of the savage Khmer Rouge Genocide, who has the privilege of representing many other survivors in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, our history and our pain must never be forgotten. This resolution acknowledges the resiliency of the Cambodian people who survived this historic atrocity and pays respect to the all too many lives that were lost. I commend Congresswoman Lori Trahan for taking the lead on this important resolution,” said State Representative Mom.

Last year, Trahan and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ-04), as well as Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), reintroduced the Cambodia Democracy and Human Rights Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to hold the Cambodian government accountable for abuses and corruption that undermine democracy and human rights.

Lowell is home to the second largest Cambodian community and the largest Cambodian population per capita of any city or town in the nation. The strong Cambodian American community in the region has strengthened the local economy and contributed mightily to Lowell’s cultural resurgence. It has also been essential in the election of the first Cambodian American mayor, Sokhary Chau, and Cambodian American members of the Lowell City Council, Vesna Nuon and Paul Ratha Yem.

“While many Cambodian Americans came to this country to escape political persecution and genocide, we have found much more than a safehaven against these evils. We have found a home and communities that have embraced us and celebrated our culture,” said Councilor Chau. “The Cambodian diaspora is grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman Lori Trahan and Congressman Robert Garcia for recognizing April 17th as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day.  By marking this day as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day, we honor the lives of those fallen and celebrate the accomplishments and the perseverance of those who have persevered. I'm proud to support this legislation to pay tribute to not only the survivors of the Cambodian Genocide, but also their children and grandchildren who are a testament to our people's resiliency and the promise of our future.”

“Cambodian Genocide is a part of history that should never be forgotten, and marking the date will ensure that it is not. Even more important is acknowledging that Cambodia still bears the wounds of that era. While the government is no longer committing mass killings, it is silencing the voices that would cry out for democracy, and they are doing so through both incarceration and exile. Cambodia will not be free until the people have a say in how their country is run, until a government by the people is realized,” said Councilor Nuon.

“It's been forty nine years since the fall of Cambodia on April 17, 1975 and the death of almost 2 million Cambodians including my entire family under the hands of Khmer Rouge Pol Pot. The pain is still raw and the hurt remains of being the only survivor of my entire family. One consolation is that I continue to tell the story of what happened in Cambodia during the four years of genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge regime,” said Councilor Yem.

A digital copy of the legislation introduced today can be accessed HERE.