|The commemorative stupa, filled with victims' skulls and clothing.|
|The most famous one of the Killing Fields.|
The Khmer Rouge communist regime ruled the country from 1975 to 1979, under the leadership of Pol Pot, sometimes referred to as "the Hitler of Cambodia." The regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals, targeting specific ethnic backgrounds, such as Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Christians, Muslims and Buddhist monks all living in Cambodia.
|Taking off shoes before entering the stupa.|
|Many levels of skulls.|
|Separated by age and sex.|
|Colorful paper cranes in the stupa.|
|Clothing found in some of the mass graves.|
The recording explained that people were forced to confess to Angkar (the government of Cambodia under the regime) their "pre-revolutionary lifestyles and crimes," which usually included some kind of free-market activity; having had contact with a foreign source, such as a U.S. missionary, international relief or government agency; or contact with any foreigner or with the outside world at all, being told that Angkar would forgive them and "wipe the slate clean." [Wikipedia]
This really meant being taken away to a place such as Tuol Sleng or Cheoung Ek to be tortured and/or executed.
|Local kids singing a song outside the memorial, begging for money.|
They buried the victims in mass graves.
|Holes in the ground from excavated graves.|
|Some of the bones that have been found by people visiting the site.|
|A memorial bamboo fence around a grave site, decorated with bracelets from visitors.|
|Sorry, sir, but you're not going to be able to bring that grenade in with you...|
If you go, I highly recommend paying a little extra for the audio guide. I thought it was very well done, including not only factual historical information, but also personal stories and a couple of very poignant songs and melodies related to the events.
We left Cheoung Ek but we weren't done learning about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. Next we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
The current museum buildings used to be a high school until 1975, when the Khmer Rouge regime turned it into the Security Prison 21 (S-21).
The former classrooms were converted into prison cells and torture chambers. The buildings were encased in electrified barbed wire and the windows were closed in with iron bars.
|No smiling? Reasonable.|
Prisoners' families were often brought into S-21 to be interrogated and later murdered at the Choeung Ek "extermination center."
The site has four main buildings (A, B, C , and D). Building A holds the large cells, for special prisoners. Building B holds galleries of photographs of the prisoners that were taken when they arrived at S-21. Building C holds small prison cells, one floor made of wood dividers, and the other brick. Building D holds instruments of torture and a Buddhist sanctuary.
|I think this is an old chalkboard from the days when this building was used as a school.|
|Back in the days when this was a high school, this contraption was used as a jungle gym.|
|All of the women have the same 70s haircut.|
|Graphic images of tortured prisoners.|
For the first year of S-21’s existence, corpses were buried near the prison. However, by the end of 1976, cadres ran out of burial spaces, the prisoner and their family were taken to the Choeung Ek extermination centre, fifteen kilometers from Phnom Penh. [Wikipedia]
|Cages used to keep animals/insects used for torture.|
|Visitors scratched out the faces of the Khmer Rouge leaders.|
Currently, three of the most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leaders are on trial in Phnom Penh. I wanted to sit in on the trial while we were there, but the court was not in session.