The Killing Field and Tuol Sleng Prison S-21

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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I became curious to this part of Cambodian history when it came out as a topic-for-discussion in one of my uni courses in 1995. Bashing babies' heads to a tree, killing old and invalid people because they were a waste of resources, killing people deemed intelligent. What? How? Why?!!!

I went to the Choeung Ek Killing Filed. There were other killing fields across the country. Once there, people usually go stright to the stupa or commemorative tall building filled with skulls of the victim. So many skulls but it still hasn't hit me.

Then I took a walk in the field. The were signboards explaining what happened where and such. Oh gosh, that's the tree I read about where they bashed the babies' heads. There's the bones jutting out of the ground, which I remembered my lecturer explained was because the prisoners were asked to dig their own graves and because they were weak, it was never deep enough.

Then it hit me. I am standing at the very site where such unmentionable atrocities were commited. ONLY 30 YEARS AGO, all around me, people were being killed here.

Then I went to the Tuol Sleng Prison, which was a former school turned torture/prison cells and now a museum. Pictures of the various torture methods and tools were displayed. Most disturbing to me is seeing the pictures of victims taken just before being executed. This tagline occured to me 'Now you see it, now you don't' but it doesn't come with a cookie or a smile. There were video shows of 'this' history of Cambodia, but I skipped it. After 10 minutes there, I've seen enough.

What disturbed me is that THIS or the Holocaust or even Apartheid is not a thing of the past. We find these atrocities appalling, we asked, "How could they do this? How could we let this thing happen?" But the fact is, it is still happening today.

pyrrho says:
Two very powerful places to visit. Strong emotions were invoked in me.
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
mrandmrsbreeze says:
We also went to these two places a couple of months ago. It really does make you wonder how humans can do this sort of thing to each other and sorecently too.
Posted on: Jun 18, 2009
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