The Liberation War Museum (Bangladesh) and the Dili-based Post-CAVR Secretariat hosted the 6th annual Asian regional meeting of the Asian sites of conscience in Dili 30-31 July 2011. I assisted with the process.
The conference was held at East Timor’s premier site of conscience, the former Comarca prison in Dili where political prisoners were held during the war with Indonesia and which was used by the CAVR truth commission as its national office. Besides Bangladesh and Timor-Leste, countries represented were South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and the US. Delegates also used the gathering to brief and seek support from senior Timorese leaders (inter alia President Jose Ramos-Horta, Ambassador for Education, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, and Secretary of State for Culture, Virgilio Simith).
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience was started in 1999, has accredited sites and members in all parts of the world, including Australia, and a Secretariat in New York. It is based on the idea, both obvious and brilliant, that the power that places of memory have to move people, not least young people, can be used to engage the community in understanding and in action to shape a just future.