I pre-warned you at the end of my last post that this one was going to be a bit morbid..Yesterday we visited the Cambodia Killing Fields and S-21.
For those of you who don’t know much about the history of Cambodia, The Killing fields are a number of places where collectively over 1 million innocent men, women and children were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, just after the Cambodian Civil War.
The leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, wanted to restart civilisation. He wanted there to be no differences between poor and rich, to make everyone equal, for people to work for themselves as apposed to working for money and in a hierarchy. Anyone who disagreed with this where killed, including innocent family members.
The Khmer Rouge Regime arrested and executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government, professionals and intellectuals. They also executed any that they believed to be ‘traitors’ ..any that they accused of being a traitor frequently did not go to trail and they could simply execute straight away.
S-21 was a school turned prison camp where the accused were taken, interrogated and tortured before being taken blindfolded to The Killing Fields to die.
We visited The Killing Fields first.
When we arrived we saw straw roofs built over the bigger of the mass graves; the rest were craters in the field, like the indentations on a golf ball.
Our tour guide told us you may be able to see bones and clothes unearthing in these graves; especially when they have a lot of rain.
The first mass grave we saw had a sign stating that 450 victims had been buried there; as a sign of respect many people had left bracelets on the posts surrounding the grave.
There were 2 trees with significance within The Killing Fields..
One The Killing Tree – where children were brutally beaten against. There were two dark patches on the bark of the tree ..our tour guide explained that these were the patches from the blood of the beatings/killings ..the patches were in two places on the Tree, one higher than the other due to the tree growing over time ..showing how long this terrible ordeal went on for.
The other the Magic Tree – this is where the Khmer Rouge troops would hang a loud speaker on the branches blasting out their anthem where they would kill.
1 – to drown out the cries of the victims being executed
And 2 – to provoke the executer to carry out the murder
There is a huge glass cabinet that has been made to house some of the bones and clothing found in the graves, including 5000 skulls.
Each skull found in The Killing Fields was cleaned and forensically tested to determine age, sex and cause of death – which was then represented by coloured dots on the skulls on show in the cabinet.
We then went on to visit S-21, the former school.
There were 3 building blocks in the prison; only one of which in its original form, the others all with history in pictures inside.
The pictures ranged from photos of the leaders of the Khmer Rouge Regime and to those of the victims mug shots. There was also a wall filled with photos of the troops of the Khmer Rouge, many of them young boys who looked no older than 18. It’s said that they brainwashed many troops from a very young age.
The one building left in its old form showed the old school classrooms turned into prison cells. There was bodged brick walls to separate the coffin like cells, were the prisoners were packed in like sardines. There were dark stains on the floor; the stains that remained from the blood spilled all those years ago.
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside any of the buildings but we were allowed to take some of the outside.
Shockingly we were told we would meet a survivor of the S-21 ..out of thousands of people to enter only 15 people came out alive.
The survivor we spoke to was a man called Bou Meng. He was kept alive due to his talents as an artist; he produced a painting of Pol Pots (the leader of the Khmer Rouge Regime).
Meng’s wife and children however were tragically killed in Pots rein.
Meng had written a book about his time at S-21 which he was selling to try and make a living. As compensation for his horrific experience the government pay the measly amount of $15 a week which isn’t even enough to live off let alone compensate for his suffering and the loss of his family.
As tragic as this history was, it was extremely interesting to see and hear about what went on all those years ago.
I promise my next post won’t be as depressing!
Love Bumble x