Friday, August 12, 2011

The Killing Fields

On our second day in Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia), we visited the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, also known as one of the Killing Fields during the Khmer Rouge regime.

During the Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia from 1975-1979, the group (also known as the Communist Party of Kampuchea) was led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, and Ieng Sary. The Khmer Rouge carried out a radical program of social engineering, aiming to isolate Cambodia from all foreign influence, eliminate private property, and turn the country's citizens into agricultural laborers. The regime purged the cities and relocated the population to rural farms where they were forced to labor in the fields.

During the three and a half years that the Khmer Rouge was in power, the regime carried out a methodical and systematic genocide that targeted teachers, merchants, intellectuals, politicians. Millions of others died of starvation and exhaustion. In all, the number of Cambodian deaths during the Khmer Rouge regime is unclear, but a conservative estimate is 2 million (out of a population of 8 million).

We visited the Killing Fields, where the Khmer Rouge carried out gory executions of anyone suspected of having connections with the former government, as well as intellectuals and professionals. In order to conserve bullets, prisoners were typically beaten with blunt instruments such as bamboo poles. As you can imagine, it was emotionally draining to visit the site. This post has pictures of some of the things we saw.

Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (commonly known as the Killing Fields)
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh


The truck stop where prisoners were taken:
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh


Memorial stupa:
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

Mass graves:
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

The holes in the ground are mass graves that have been exhumed:
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

Rice fields right next to the graves:
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

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