February 28th, 2008 – by: razorriome
Cambodia experienced one of the most hellish revolutions the world has
ever seen. The Khmer Rouge had a vision of utopia much different than
most. Pol Pot declared it to be "year zero" in 1975 after the complete
evacuation of Phnom Penh
in a mere three days marking the beginning of
the KR rule. Cambodia was to become a peasant dominated agricultural
cooperative. The educated people did not fit the profile. 2 million
of Cambodia's most educated people were killed between 1975 and 1979.
It is said that the ruthlessness of the KR tortures was even worse than
those implemented by the Nazis in WWII.
day Phnom Penh is caught somewhere between the ugly past and bright future.
Extreme wealth and poverty live side by side throughout.
This city has the ability to charm you with luxuries, and chill you to
the core with a glimpse into the darkest side of humanity. The Tuol Sleng High
School was turned into the KR's largest security Prison (S-21). It is
a disturbing place. The endless rows of terrified black and white
faces of victims stare as you walk through the barb wired cells. Instruments of unthinkable
tortures on display are reflected in the glass covered paintings
depicting them in use. The original blood stains and bullet holes are
testament to the horrors that happened here. Almost
every prisoner that was detained in S-21 was later killed in the
killing fields of Choeung Ek.
An average of 100 victims per day
were killed in Choeung Ek.
Close to 20,000 people are buried in the
129 mass graves. Other than the 8000 skulls rising to the heavens in
the center of the fields, there is not a lot to see. After watching
the Killing Field's movie, watching the documentary and seeing the
gruesome pictures in S-21, just walking through the land where so many
died was too much for me. I was in a very somber mood for the rest of
the day and did not feel life speaking with anyone.
I had been to other detention camps and mass graves in the past but
none had affected me like the remnants of the Khmer Rouge regime. I
think it hit home a little harder because these gruesome acts were
occurring during my lifetime. I think that visiting these kinds of
sights is important for travelers, especially who come from places
where war is mostly a foreign concept. I like to believe think that if
experienced these places the world could collectively have some more
peaceful foreign policies.