day one hundred and twenty-eight: february 4, 2016: a lesson in the cambodian genocide

Today was a sad day learning about what happened in Cambodia not too long ago in the 1970s. It was truly sad to see and hear about what humans are capable of doing to each other. Excuse this post for not having many photos as it didn't seem appropriate to take photos of some of these sites with respect for those who were killed in these heinous acts of genocide.

Although these places and the acts that occurred at them are very sad to think about, we felt it was important for us to learn about this relatively recent historical event that has shaped current day Cambodia.

S21 Toul Sleng is a high school that was turned into a torture camp where those accused of crimes against the Khmer Rouge were tortured until they gave written confessions of their guilt and then executed. When visiting S21, there are many photos of those who were tortured and executed there, some very graphic. Out of the estimated 17,000 people who passed thru S21, there are only 12 known survivors. During our visit, two survivors were present to meet people. 

After visiting S21, we headed outside the main city to the Choeung Ek Memorial (the Killing Fields), which is only one of 300 or more "killing fields" in Cambodia. Below are some of the memorials to those who were found in mass graves. Nearly 9,000 bodies were discovered at this site. A total of over 1,700,000 were executed by the Khmer Rouge Regime between 1975 and 1979. Almost one in every four Cambodians were killed by the regime.

Below is a spirit house set next to one of the mass graves. These houses are commonly found throughout SE Asia and predate Hinduism and Buddhism. These houses are intended to provide shelter for spirits who have no place to rest.

As we said earlier, it was a really tough day learning about what happened to the Cambodian people by some of their very own. We decided to end the day on a happier note by watching a traditional dance show, which will be in our next post.