Monday, October 27, 2014

Cambodia part1: Phnom Penh - Killing fields & S-21 prison

As written in previous post, this one won't be very cheerful either. In Cambodia I chose to do 2 stops only (not that I could do more anyways because of the time pressure). The first stop after Vietnam was the capital of Cambodia - Phnom Penh. Btw. I must say that Cambodia is definitely the dirtiest country out of all SE asian countries, probably the poorest as well (with Laos) and definitely most unfortunate when it comes to the history. Cambodia was a french colony, after liberation they were involved in Vietnam war and heavily struck by US bombing, but the worst part was still to come... In 1975 a radical communist party Khmer Rouge with its leader Pol Pot took over the country and started the worst nightmare on their fellow countrymen. At first, all people living in towns were forced to leave and join the work on rice fields, and later they started (basically randomly - it started with intellectuals and educated people (the ones who was Pol Pot most afraid of), but later it was basically all people - farmers, children, women, foreigners, even his own soldiers...) send people to torture them in prisons and afterwards kill them in the 'killing fields'. Between 1975 and 1979 Khmer Rouge killed 3 out of 8 million Cambodians!!! I stopped in Phnom Penh to visit one of many killing fields and the most cruel prison - S-21.

The monument in the killing fields built in honor of the victims of the genocide

The monument is full of skulls, bones, teeth and clothes of the victims.

There were 85 mass graves discovered in this one killing field (there are plenty of them all over Cambodia). The biggest one contained more than 450 corpses. The one on the picture was full of naked (most probably raped before killing) women and kids on top of them. The tree on the picture was used to kill the children - they grabbed them by their feet and smashed their heads against the tree and threw the body into the grave... Khmer Rouge did not use guns to kill the people (the bullets were too expensive). There were evidence of people being killed by bamboo sticks, axes, hammers, digging hoes, machetes etc. Some of the people were buried alive and then they would pour chemicals over the graves to finish them off... All of this was happening just 25 years ago!!!

After getting the shivers from the killing fields off, I went to see the S-21 prison where thousands of people were imprisoned and most of the time tortured to death (once there was no more capacity in the prison they started to deport the people to kill them in the killing fields). This prison was set up in a former school right in the capital Phnom Penh.

The entrance to the cells

The wooden cells (approx. 0,5 x 2m)

The room for torturing - mainly used for political prisoners - they used all kind of torturing and wouldn't stop until the prisoner confessed to some crime that he didn't do, so they had a reason to kill him...

Faces of few prisoners after arrival to S-21.

After seeing these two horrific places I had some time to relax and come to nicer thoughts by walking around Phnom Penh. On picture is the central market.

Big square in the middle of the town full of athletes of all ages :)

Temple with giant clock

City fishermen on Mekong river

And here a countryside fisherman outside the town.

Next post will be my last stop in Cambodia and also on this trip :( and I promise there will be no more depressive stuff there ;)

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