Today we visited the Killing Fields and S-21, a tearful, heart wrenching place to experience yet an absolute must for any traveler. The destructive force of the Khmer Rouge is the reason Cambodia is in the state it’s in today. A quick history for those who don’t know:
The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), otherwise known as the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, took control of Cambodia on April 17, 1975. The CPK created the state of Democratic Kampuchea in 1976 and ruled the country until January 1979. While the Khmer Rouge was in power, they set up policies that disregarded human life and produced repression and massacres on a massive scale. They turned the country into a huge detention center, which later became a graveyard for nearly two million people, including their own members and even some senior leaders.
This building houses 9000 skulls and larger bones from the mass graves that were excavated in 1980 after the Khmer Rouge was driven out and this place was discovered.
Anything that the Khmer Rouge soldiers could find to use as a weapon were used to kill with leading to bone fragments, shattered skulls and teeth being found everywhere.
The most horrific and unimaginable torture and death came to all who were murdered here, including women, children and babies.
Pictures of prisoners and their handwritten personal biographies were found at S-21 a former high school in Phnom Penh used for torture, detention, interrogation after confessions from the detainees were received and documented.
A picture painted by a Cambodian boy, part of a room full of children’s art at S-21 expressing their feeling about their country’s very recent history in which nearly everyone lost at least one family member. A very hopeful and peaceful display after such a painful visit to sites showing what unfathomable atrocities human beings can inflict upon each other- not very long ago (1975-79) and continue in other places of the world even today. Let us be the generation of change, connected and aware, compassionate and absolutely intolerant of hatred and fear.