(this is a copy and paste from my previous blog about my time in Southeast Asia. A story about my experience at the Khmer Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, you won’t find tips and tricks in here just thoughts and words from my time. I apologize for the intensity of these words and photos. Prior to visiting I had no knowledge of this happening in our history and I believe that knowledge is power and to prevent a tragic event like this from happening again knowledge needs to be shared.)
The Crossroad of Past and Present:
With a name like Phnom Penh one would think of a jungle, an atmosphere filled with wild animals and exotic noises. When you learn that Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, your imagination changes and you envision a thriving, bustling city where Asian treasures can be found in the colorful markets. Phnom Penh in neither. Phnom Penh is a crossroad of past and present. With such an ugly history and a vast growing difference between poverty and wealth Phnom Penh is nothing like you would imagine it to be. But despite the differences in actuality and fiction there are many wonders and beauty that captivate you. Sadly this post is dedicated to the Cambodian Killing Fields.
For those of you that don’t know, the Khmer Killing Fields were a time in Cambodia’s past (between 1970-1975) where the leader Pol Pot hated a certain type of person. His hatred led to the death of at least 1,386,734 victims via execution. I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on this matter.
Phnom Penh has such a tarnished image due to the ugly history; an unexplainable time that you can’t make sense of. During this time a wealthy young Cambodia man, Pol Pot, returned from his studying in Paris with the idea of Marxism and a goal to eradicate the current population of Cambodia and create a giant peasant dominated by agricultural growth. the old, the young, the smart, everyone was forced to become a labor slave; any disobedience or signs of intellectualism was a reason to be executed. it wasn’t until 1979 that the Khmer Rule of Pol Pot was brought to an end by the Vietnamese; to this day it is said that at least 1.7 million people were slaughtered under Pol Pot but that number still remains a large mystery. the last of Pol Pot followers were defeated in 1998. the Killing Fields, the location in which the brutality of this man can be witnessed. The feelings that you get from exploring this territory are intense. the concept that one man could have enough power to completely destroy a population is baffling and the fact that this happened SO RECENT in our world’s history is even more astounding. where was the rest of the world while people were getting slaughtered for wearing glasses or being worked to death just because ONE person wants to install their vision of how a country should look? the worst part is that this issue, the concept of genocide, still occurs today. in the year 2014 we are still facing problems where you have one crazy person trying to build an empire by destroying human beings just because they want to. the killing fields, despite the raw emotion and turmoil you feel, are truly an experience that can’t be missed. and it is important being a member of this planet to educate ourselves on the history of this world.
As George Santayana said “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
warning: a number of these photos are rather intense and embody strong emotions. I apologize for the intensity of these photos. yet, knowledge is power. educate yourselves.
as you walk past these mass grave site you will find thousands of bracelets wrapped around bamboo poles. the significance of placing your bracelet on a bamboo pole surrounding a mass grave site: i couldn’t tell you. in fact it really means nothing. it’s simply a bracelet wrapped around a pole. but when thousands and thousands of bracelets begin to accumulate, then it stands for something, it holds meaning and worth. these bracelets have been left as a sign of respect for the victims and that makes a powerful statement. the number of bracelets resembles the number of people who have become aware of the gruesome part of our past. it resembles knowledge and the continuation of knowledge with each newly added bracelet.
After heavy rainfall, to this day, bone fragments and tattered clothing can be found amongst the mud and dirt surrounding the grave sites. the harsh reality that this horrid event of our past happened so recently.
The hardest part of walking through the Killing Fields was this tree. For those that can’t read the sign “KILLING TREE AGAINST WHERE EXECUTIONERS BEAT CHILDREN” in Pol Pot’s reign you fell a victim no matter your age. The raw emotions that surfaced as your passed a tree that was used as a killing weapon are unexplainable.
The tree above is known as the MAGIC TREE. This tree was used not a killing device but was used to hang a speaker which played LOUD music all through the night to drown out the moans and cries of the victims as they were being executed.
I apologize of the intensity of these pictures and descriptions but now that you are aware of what has happened so recently in our past we can do more to prevent it from happening in the future and letting the lives of innocent be wasted.