Just over 40 years ago, Khmer Rouge was one of history’s most horrific regimes. Led by Pol Pot’s; men, women and children of Cambodia were held captive for four years in unhumane conditions and brutally tortured in a mission for Pot’s to create an agricultural society.
What he created was hell. A history which Cambodian’s today are still recoving from.
I wrote about S21 (Genocide Museum) here, and continue the disturbing story to Choeung Ek and the surrounding ‘killing fields’ of Cambodia.
Located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, lies the extermination camp Choeung Ek. Between 1975 and 1978 around 17,000 men, women, children and infants who had been detained and tortured at Tuol Sleng were transported to be murdered.
Choeung Ek houses the remains of 8985 people murdered and buried in mass graves during the Khmer Rouge regime.
When a discovery was unearthed in 1980; many bodies were bound and blindfolded. Cambodian’s were bludgeoned to death, so the regime could save money on bullets.
On the tour, you are able to walk around and view the 43 of the 129 communal graves here have been left untouched. Over time, fragments of human bone and clothing have risen, and are now clearly visible.
Another, rather carastrophic section of the the killing fields is the killing tree. Nothing prepares you for the moment you realise that this ‘killing’ tree; was used beat children against the tree until they died.
1.7 million people died. 20% of the entire Cambodian population killed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.
In the middle of the Killing Fields stands the Memorial Stupa. Designed in the style of a Buddhist stupa, the Choeung Ek memorial has glass sides and has multiple layers of human skulls.
More than 8000 skulls are located in here and are arranged by sex and age and upon closer examination of the skulls, many bear marks of the trauma they suffered before their deaths.
And for this to happen only 40 years ago. Heartbreaking.
CHOEUNG EK GENOCIDAL CENTRE – THE DETAILS
Opening hours | 8am – 5pm
Location | Choueng Ek, Phnom Penh
Cost | round £5 GBP for adults, including the audio tour