Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Killing Fields

The Rhmer Rouge, the political party that ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979, lead by Pol Pot intended to reduce Cambodia into a form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. Anyone who opposed this regime was killed, anyone who was educated was killed. This went so far as to kill people who wore spectacles, and all of their immediate family, just because it was assumed that they were clever. Estimates of the numbers of people executed tend to be around 1.5 million, which is more than Hitler managed in the Holocaust.

For most Cambodians, who on the whole are very cheery people, Pol Pot (who died in 1998 of a heart attack, still awaiting trial) is a very sore subject and, considering his rein ended only 30 years ago, the adults now are the sons and daughters of the that generation, so it's entirely understandable at it's status of taboo. There are many mass graves dotted all around the country, but one of the largest, labeled the Killing Fields is just outside of Phnom Penh.

The monument at the Killing Fields. Within are thousands of human bones found at the sight that are impossible to identify.

"Mass grave of 166 with out heads."

Only recently are members of the Khmer Rouge party being taken to trial, the surviving members of which all tend to act innocent of blame each other. Considering Pol Pot also acted dumb when he was charged it doesn't surprise me.

This is probably one of the saddest and depressing places I've ever been too and the fact that nations still engage in genocide, even today, (Dafur anyone?) is a demoralising state of affairs.

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