As most people know, Cambodia has an incredibly tragic history. From 1975-1979 the country was ruled by the Khmer Rouge, a regime that attempted to create an agrarian-based, self-reliant and Communist society. "Enemies" of the Party (professionals, intellectuals and even people who wore glasses as this indicated that they were literate) were tortured and/or killed in the most horrific ways imaginable. One of the regime's main mottos was "To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss." An estimated 2 million Cambodian people died under the Khmer Rouge, and it is generally considered to be a genocide.
|One of the mass graves at The Killing Fields|
While I was in Phnom Penh I was able to visit two sites that are linked to this dark era: The Tuol Sleng Prison (also known as S21) which is an old high school that served as a torture center, and The Killing Fields, where trucks full of people would be dropped off and executed shortly thereafter.
|Remnants of the victims|
Both places were incredibly haunting: I saw mass graves of children, farming tools used as murder weapons, articles of victim's clothing and more skulls, bones and teeth than almost seemed possible.
|Rows and rows of tiny cells at the Tuol Sleng Prison|