Outside, where cattle usually graze, human bones sometimes come unearthed after heavy rains. The killing fields document death, from 1975 to 1979, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge soldiers killed 1.7 million Cambodians, or 21 percent of the population, according to Yale University’s Cambodia Genocide Program. A soccer-field-sized area surrounded by farmland, the killing fields contain mass graves, slightly sunken, for perhaps 20,000 Cambodians, many of whom were tortured before being killed. The bordering trees held nooses for hangings.
Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution center. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Not only did the Khmer Rouge carefully transcribe the prisoners’ interrogations; they also carefully photographed the vast majority of the inmates and created an astonishing photographic archive. Each of the almost 6,000 S-21 portraits that have been recovered tells a story shock, resignation, confusion, defiance and horror. Although the most gruesome images to come out of Cambodia were those of the mass graves, the most haunting were the portraits taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21.
S-21 was an important secret prison operated by the Pol Pot regime in the capital city of Phnom Penh from mid-1975 through the end of 1978. The focus of S-21 was on those who were inside the Khmer Rouge, and thought to have betrayed the movement. The families of offenders were often brought to the prison as well in order to keep the deaths of their loved one from being avenged. Almost all of the prisoners had worked in the armed forces, factories, or administration. Upon arrival at S-21, the prisoners were photographed, tortured until they confessed to whatever crimes their captors charged them with, and then executed. The prisoners’ photographs and completed confessions formed dossiers that were submitted to Khmer Rouge authorities as proof that the “traitors” had been eliminated. Of the 14,200 people who were imprisoned at S-21, there are only seven known survivors.
Today, S-21 Prison is known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. Inside the gates, it looks like any high school; five buildings face a grass courtyard with pull-up bars, green lawns and lawn-bowling pitches
Choeung Ek Killing Fields
The Democratic of Kampuchea was led by Pol Pot, a former schoolteacher. The killing machine of S-21 was a secret prison for torturing, interrogating, and depriving those who were accused of illegal activities and accused of being traitors. The Khmer Rouge acted like savage animals with no conscience as they preyed upon the innocent and naive citizens. The Khmer Rouge had turned the peaceful and beautiful Cheung Ek village into the infamous and miserable killing fields. The Pol Pot regime slaughtered people in the thousands without mercy and buried them in mass graves. No matter how much visitors have read or been told about the Khmer Rouge brutality and the number of people killed all visitors shall understand the full process of how the tens of thousands prisoners were executed here. More importantly, visitors can learn about the chain of command established by Pol Pot.
In order to know the how prisoners were ruthlessly killed at Cheung Ek by the horrible Ultra Communist Khmer Rouge Regime, the structure of the security system of the must be understood. More importantly, one must understand the chain of command established by the blood thirsty leaders, Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ta Mok, Son Sen, and Khiev Sam Phan.
Kong San, an ex-Khmer Rouge soldier of 703 division, recalled at that time he had grown rice near Cheung Ek and when the wind blew strongly sometimes he smelt a stench. He thought the smell was just the stench of decomposing dead pets. But after the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled, he found out that Choeung Ek was a Killing Field
Very informative, very moving, this experience will really help you to absorb what Cambodia people have been through.
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