Saturday, August 7, 2010

Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum: Phnom Penh

The Killing Fields are located about 30 minutes from the center of Phnom Penh by Tuk-Tuk. This was one of many execution sites used by the Khmer Rouge. I'm warning you now this post might be a little gruesome for some folks, so please, if you don't want to see these things, than stop reading now rather than leaving me posts about how unnecessary these photos are.

The first stop here is a memorial stupa containing the skulls and clothing of people who were killed here at this site. Other killing fields around the country have similar, though perhaps smaller stupas with skulls or bones of the victims.

After seeing the stupa, you can walk behind and see the places where they discovered remains of the 17,000 people who were assassinated here.

Not only did they assassinate men and women and children, they even killed babies, using this tree to beat them against to kill them.

To keep with the same depressing theme of the Khmer Rouge regime, we asked our tuk-tuk driver to take us to the Genocide Museum next. This Museum was originally a high school which was converted into a prison by the Khmer Rouge. You can see where people where tortured and imprisoned here.

You can sort of imagine what a school must have looked like here, but then the stark metal bed changes the scene dramatically..

The Khmer Rouge documented every prisoner that entered by taking a photo and writing a quick biography. You can see here, there are young women and old women, they didn't seem to discriminate. The photos went on for rooms and rooms.

In these classrooms, they built small brick confinement areas. You can see that they knocked holes through he walls and connected every room on the floor.

In a third building there is a great exhibition with interviews from real soldiers from the Khmer Rouge who worked in the prison. They were all very young, most under 20 at the time, and most did it in fear of becoming one of the prisoners if they refused to do as they were told by their commanders.

Don't worry, my posts about Cambodia will be happier from now on.

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