Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Human Tradgedy

I am pretty sure that the 3 of us are still in tourist mode and are in denial of the fact that we have 2 months to see all that Cambodia has to offer but that's okay.  Sunday was a national holiday, so we all had Monday off and for some reason thought it was a good idea to immerse ourselves in the terror of the Khmer Rouge. (google Khmer Rouge if you don't know what they are but basically under Pol Pot they attempted to turn the country into a communal agrarian society which resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of Cambodians at the hands of other Cambodians)

Tuol Sleng (S-21):  Tuol Sleng was a primary and high school in Phnom Penh when the Khmer Rouge came into power.  One of their anti-education slogans was "there are no diplomas, only diplomas one can visualize. If you wish to get a Baccalaureate, you have to get it at dams or canals" so there was no need for schools anymore.  The former school became Security Prison 21 (S-21) where they tortured and imprisoned people.  The place looks like it was just discovered yesterday, its pretty intense.  Some of the cells are still in tact and have pictures of the bodies that were found when S-21 was discovered.  Others serve as rooms to display artifacts and information about the prison and the Khmer Rouge in general.

The graves of the bodies left when S-21 was discovered

The prison rules

A cell and the actual bed and foot shackles

Former excercise equipment for the students that the Khmer rouge uses to tie victims to as a torture method, and when they lost consciousness they dipped their heads in the dirty water in the pots.

Photos of Victims 

shackles used to strap prisoners into beds by their feet

Painting of baby being thrown up and shot

Painting of a baby being taken from mother and hit onto a tree

The Choeung Ek Killing Field:  Because, you know, we weren't depressed enough so we headed off to the killing field where the S-21 inmates, and others, were taken to be executed.  Anna had read that there were bones coming out of the ground, I of course didn't believe her but she was right and we literally stepped on and could have tripped over human bones that were surfacing due to years of rains.  When you arrive they tell you to stay silent and hand you a head set to listen too while going through the guided tour.  I learned a lot about the Khmer Rouge and how horrifyingly they executed people in mass.  Some of the mass graves have been excavated, the bones examined and logged, then stored in a giant stupa where you can pay your respects.  Other graves still contain bodies and as the bones and clothing become visible the grounds keepers collect them to put on display.

 Where remains which have been forensically analyzed and categorized are housed

 Bones resurfacing due to rain

 Clothes and bones resurfacing due to rain

 "Killing tree against which executioners beat children"

 Rags of victims clothing that have surfaced

 Pieces of bones and teeth that have surfaced and been collected by grounds keepers

I promise to write about something happier next time, but history is important and if we dont learn from it we are doomed to repeat it.