LYNN CELEBRATES CAMBODIAN HERITAGE
ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
From left, Southeastern Asian liaison AJ Saing, Pastor Posan Ung, Chea Kiman and Chanthan Kang say a prayer at the Cambodian flag-raising ceremony at Lynn City Hall Friday.
BY DILLON DURST
LYNN — Some of the city’s immigrant community participated in a flag raising event at City Hall Friday to commemorate the Cambodian New Year.
In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime committed genocide that saw mass executions, torture, forced labor and withholding food against the Cambodian population. The armed wing of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, the name the Communists used for Cambodia, caused the death of 1.7 million people, according to Yale University’s Cambodian Genocide Program.
Likened to the Holocaust, it is considered one of the worst human tragedies of the last century.
During the regime’s reign of terror, many Cambodians fled to the U.S. At 3,899, Lynn has the second-largest population of Cambodian Americans in Massachusetts, behind Lowell, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau.
Pastor PoSan Ung, who grew up a Cambodian refugee, said raising of his native red, white and blue flag helps him feel at home. He came to the U.S. in the 1980s after living through the Killing Fields, sites in Cambodia where more than a million people were killed and buried.
He said Cambodian residents bring diversity, as well as a variety of foods, culture and liveliness to Lynn.
He encourages residents to visit his Living Fields Church, which has a large Cambodian-American congregation.
Kirirath “AJ” Saing, a board member of the Economic Development and Industrial Corp., said the New Year is celebrated for three days in April rather than January because the harvest season comes to an end, a time when farmers can rest and enjoy the fruits of their labor.