The Killing Fields of Phnom Penh

The girls and I had a lovely time in Siem Reap.  Anna and Irit parted ways while Eva and I took a 6-hour bus ride to Phnom Penh.  We saw a lot of poverty in Siem Reap, but the city does get good business through tourism.  Our shock really came when we arrived in Phnom Penh.  We knew that the city could be dangerous especially for 2 girls so we decided to splurge a little more on a nice hotel near the embassies and NGOs.  The next day we took a tuk tuk ride to Choeung Ek, the killing fields of Phnom Pengh.  On our way there we saw just how much poverty this country has.  I think the poverty in India is a little nastier but at least Indians have an advantage through opportunities and economic growth.  They can get educated and work very hard to make something for themselves.  It seemed a bit depressing in Phnom Pengh.  The country is very slowly trying to recover over the tragic events that happened during the Khmer Rouge days.  Most people have heard of the holocaust, but very few have heard of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s rule in Cambodia; probably because it was of no real interest or importance to anyone… at least politically or economically for nations that would have helped Cambodia before it was too late. You can feel that the people do not have a lot of direction and are afraid to make decisions on their own. I don’t blame them at all especially since they have to start life again from scratch.

So here is a very brief summary of what happened (I really urge you to read more about this as it is so unfathomable that this tragedy happened so recently):

KR ruled from 1975 to 1979.  It was a communist party and it later committed genocide of about 3 million of their own people.

After the fall of KR,  it took 10 years to set up a UN court to try the people responsible… it took another 10 years to get a verdict.  All the while these perpetrators (most of them educated in Paris) lived lavish lives with lucrative professions (some where even professors teaching at universities) and now many have died of natural causes before brought to justice.  Only one remained.

At this killing field… one of many in Cambodia  about 17,000 women and children were decapitated and their bodies were dumped in holes.  We saw the below monument which have all the clothes, and bones from the victims that were later dug up.  We were actually walking on teeth, bones and clothes that had surfaced to the ground after a heavy night of rainfall. You can even see the tree used by KR to smash babies heads on before dumping their bodies into these mass graves.

Thirty years later, the Cambodians with broken families, many look and seem to feel lost but ironically they seem absolutely appreciative of their freedom and have by far the biggest smiles I have ever seen in my life.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “The Killing Fields of Phnom Penh”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: