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the darker side

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here's what ive done so far

after enjoying the fun ride through thailand and laos, i came to see some of the worst of se asia's history outside of phnom penh. about 10km from the cambodian capital are the S-21 killing fields, used by pol pot's regime to kill "subversives". these people were academics, women, children and anyone deemed to be against the maoist revolution that swept the country in 1975. in less than four years the powerful khmer rouge killed 2 million people, nearly one quarter of the population!!!!

when i walked around the craters in the ground, the images of innocent cambodians being beaten and killed was overwhelming. a temple with bones was erected in the center of the grounds, and it was a moving experience.

afterwards i visited the S-21 facility, used to detain and torture civilians. the cells were barely big enough to lay down in, and the weapons used were on display. the combination of the killing fields and detention center in a single day was a tough thing to grasp after cruising down the mekong and relaxing on the beach. im sure this will be one of the most meaningful experiences on my trip.

as i see the faces of the people in the street, i think about their family members that may have been killed by the khmer rouge. one day i hope the cambodians can achieve reconciliation. there have never been war trials and many khmer rouge leaders are still silent about the acts they committed. considering pol pot's regime lost power in 1979 and he died in 1998, justice will most likely never come. this country is certainly moving forward anyway, and they have no problem showing you their true hearts. i can understand why many ex-pats volunteer to help the children here. it's hard not to feel sympathetic towards the khmer people, but finding the correct way to help them is very difficult. many people beg for money, and children are used by men to sell their products, such as guidebooks and flowers. buying a child a plate of fried rice has felt good, and writing this down soothes some of the pain as well.

here is a picture of the fields. all of the depressions are where the bones were buried in mass graves. in some spots, old clothing was still visible underneath the grass and dirt.


Posted by ggithens 21:57 Archived in Cambodia

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