Cambodia has had some very rough history in the not distant past. In the 4 years after the Khmer Rouge took over the government in 1974, over 2 million Cambodians were killed; this represents between one fourth to one third of the population. Intellectuals were especially targeted and identified by characteristics such as higher education, softer hands, lighter complexion, and ability to speak another language. The goal of the Khmer Rouge was to create a completely equal society - practically this translated into mobilizing the whole population into agriculture (often rice farming) and killing anyone who resisted. Before the Khmer Rouge took over there was tremendous corruption in the government and so the revolution was originally hailed by a very frustrated population as the change that they had been waiting for.
Below is a picture of the middle and high school buildings that were converted into a detention center and a place for forcing confessions through extensive torture. Over the 4 years it processed 20,000 people. Extensive records were kept and I saw a lot of photographs that I never thought I would see.
The detainees were kept in either group or individual holding cells
The rules shown below included not crying while "getting lashes or electrification"
After the appropriate confessions had been obtained from the detainees (sometimes confessions were written thousands of times), they were transported by truck 15km to the killing fields. At the entrance to the killing fields there is a big structure out of glass and wood that houses the skulls of 9000 people that were recovered from the surrounding fields.
I think one of the most amazing things I saw was the interview with the truck driver who drove all the people between the detention center and the killing fields. He was smiling during most of the interview as he pointed out the details of the killing fields. He is one of the few people that remain to testify in the war crimes tribunal that will begin in a few years. This topic deserves more commentary and hopefully I will get back to it...
I don't even know what to say about a sign like this.
As we walked around there were pieces of clothing stuck in the ground everywhere. These are clothes from the people in the mass graves that are still surfacing after each rainy season. I was uncomfortable walking around the killing fields since everywhere I stepped I noticed fragments of bone or clothing from the thousands of people who were thrown into mass graves here only 30 years ago.
There were many pictures that I could not bring myself to take while I was walking around these facilities, but this picture spoke pretty strongly to me about what it was like to live life during these years.
On a lighter note, here is Cat and Kev making a biking pit-stop at a bakery. My apetite was still at about 15% of normal after being sick but I found a very healthy little muffin friend to nibble on.