The Killing Fields

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S-21 Toul Sleng prison

From April 17th 1975 to January 7th 1979, Cambodja was under the horrifying control of the Khmer Rouge. Million of Cambodians perished under Saloth Sar aka Pol Pot. Most of them ended up in the ‘Killing Fields’, essentially ad hoc places of executions & dumping grounds for dead bodies. One of the most horrifying killing field is Choeng Ek, a site near Phnom Penh were brutal executions took place of approx 17000 men, women & children. Most of them had first suffered from interrogation, torture & deprivation in the S-21 Toul Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.

The Child's tree

The Child’s tree

Inmates were held in tiny brick cubicles & systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months to extract the desired ‘confessions’ after which the victim was invaribly executed at the killing fields. Words can’t describe the horrifying feeling that gets you when visiting those sites but it remembers us that those that have perished may not be forgotten.  The one thing that horrified me the most as for many others was the ‘Child’s tree’  Babies were held by the foot and smashed with their heads against this tree and thrown in a mass grave once killed. How can we ever understand how some people are capable of such atrocities.  Em Chow, our tuk tuk driver is 41 yrs old and had to indure the consequences of those atrocities. Luckily he survived but both his parents were killed by an invasion in their house by the Khmer Rouge when he was just a baby.  It was a hard day but we may not forget or deny, we must make sure that such atrocities never happen again…

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