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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cambodia: Wrath of Pol Pot in the Killing Fields

The most saddening yet meaningful part of our trip to Cambodia was our visit to the Killing Fields and S-21 Prison.

To give a brief historical background (geek mode!) - during 1975-1979, Pol Pol whose real name is Saloth Sar (notice how sinister his name sounds), rose to power as Prime Minister of Cambodia. This was the beginning of his implementation of his Year Zero concept wherein all culture and traditions within a society must be completely destroyed and a new revolutionary culture must replace it, starting from scratch. All history of a nation before Year Zero is irrelevant, as it will (as an ideal) be purged and replaced from the ground up. The merciless killing and harsh methods of torture led to the deaths of nearly 2 million people.

The mass graves and fields where thousands of men, women and children were brutally killed are now called the Killing Fields.

Skulls found in the commemorative stupa in the Killing Fields

Stupa built to store thousands of skulls found in the killing fields.

1000 paper cranes from Japan Red Cross as symbol of world peace.

Listening to our guide Tida who survived the Khmer Rouge regime but lost some her family in the process.

Killing tree used to beat children to death as bullets were not to be wasted.

Magic tree, don't let the name mislead you.

Mass grave of more than 100 victims majority of which whom were found naked. Victims were forced to dig the mass graves before being killed.

Bone fragments on the ground. Some of the mass graves were left untouched as there were too many.

Below is a poem by Polish writer and poet Tadeusz Różewicz about surviving being a prisoner of war and how the horrors of war can destroy ideals, dreams and break the human spirit.

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

The following are empty synonyms:
man and beast
love and hate
friend and foe
darkness and light.

The way of killing men and beasts is the same
I've seen it:
truckfuls of chopped-up men
who will not be saved.

Ideas are mere words:
virtue and crime
truth and lies
beauty and ugliness
courage and cowardice.

Virtue and crime weigh the same
I've seen it:
in a man who was both
criminal and virtuous.

I seek a teacher and a master
may he restore my sight hearing and speech
may he again name objects and ideas
may he separate darkness from light.

I am twenty-four
led to slaughter
I survived.

Translated by Adam Czerniawski


yen said...

chilling story

Pam said...

yep pero alam mo ba kahit na ganyan nangyari sa mga cambodians, super bait and cheerful sila as a people. siguro kasi nga grabe yung pinagdaanan nila.

amaterasu08 said...

nabasa ko nga yung tungkol sa S-21 prison sa Reader's Digest. Parang they're resurrecting the case against dun sa mga political leaders ng Khmer regime, buhay pa kasi ata yung iba.

Grabe anlupit ng tao. ;_;

Stan said...

@amaterasu: yup, sinabi nga din sa amin na hanggang ngayn may trials pa rin. Pero may ibang high officials na kasama sa trial na namatay na.

Pinapatay ni PolPot lahat ng mga educated people kc natakot sya na baka maagaw ang power sa kanya

Pam said...

@ametarasu - yep di pa lahat patay. although si polpot patay na. good thing ni resurrect nila yung case to bring justice to the victims. better late than never.

marcus said...

this is really creepy. that's a lot of skulls

Pam said...

@marcus - the whole stupa was filled with skulls. creepy indeed.

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