Monday, November 2, 2009

The Killing Fields

Hantu Laut
The Ankor kingdom was one of the great civilisations that once stood in this region. The glorious years of the Khmer empire ended many hundred years ago.Today, the country is still struggling to rebuild itself from the ravages of war and misdeeds and atrocities of past leaders.

Combodia or Kampuchea as the Khmers would like it to be called is a country that has gone through turmoil and a turbulent past that have scarred the country and its people.

About three decades ago the most horrifying atrocities known to man in modern times were committed on this soil, on the Khmer people by Khmer leaders. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge would go down in history, joining the list of other despotic leaders, as one of the most brutal regime ever walked the face of the earth.

My visit to Phnom Penh was more accidental rather than planned.As my plane descends for the landing I can see the flatness of the land and the great Mekong meandering through the landscape with paddy fields straddling her banks as far as the eyes could see.

This is the land of fertility but yet one can't ignore the sight of abject poverty everywhere one goes. The extravaganza of posh cars on the roads is anything but mystifying.This place has as many if not more of latest Hummers, Lexuses, Range Rovers and Mercs as in Kuala Lumpur.It makes one wonder where the money coming from.Than there are posh cars without licence plate number, not one or two, numberless, I just lost count of them. I was told it's a clear message to all and sundry that an unregistered vehicle bears connection with the powers that be.

Has Combodia not learned from its violence past?

All said and done I am on my way to 'The Killing Fields" to see and feel the atrocities of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rogues.A reminder of humans brutality against humans.

A typical block where torture/execution were carried out

Having read both the book and seen the movie of 'The Killing Fields' many years ago I wouldn't
be doing myself any justice if I don't visit 'The Killing Fields' museums and see for myself the horrific brutality that men can inflict on their own kind.

Tuol Sleng was the undeniable evidence of atrocities perpetrated by the Khmer Rogues against its own people. This is the site of some of the most cruel forms of torture ever inflicted on mankind, victims of human madness.Mindless extermination of innocent men, women and children.The side of the story that many wouldn't be able to stomach.

Visiting the museum brought back flashes of the horrifying experience that Dith Pran have to go through to escape from the clutches and possibly death sentence by the Khmers Rogues.

Shackles to hold prisoners

Dith Pran was the central figure in the the book and the movie 'The Killing Fields', a true life story of his miraculous escape from Combodia after having been arrested and forced into hard labour by the Khmer Rouges.He only survived by feigning simple-mindedness to avoid being killed if they knew he was an intellectual. Most intellectuals like teachers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals were killed by the Khmer Rogues in order to push forward their agenda of an agrarian society.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was formerly a school converted into a hell hole known as 'Security Office 21' of Democratic Kampuchea. A misnomer, there was nothing democratic about them.This was the most brutal regime in modern time.Atrocities that one could not imagine can happen in this seemingly civilised world

Security office 21 was created on the orders of Pol Pot for the purpose of detention, interrogation, torture and killing of prisoners suspected of going against the regime. If your are an intellectual or deemed to be one, even if you were not, you are candidate for the torture chamber and possible execution. Most prisoners were executed after having confessed to crimes they have not committed.

No accurate figure on how many Combodians were killed, but estimates range from few hundred thousands to close to 2 million including those dying of disease and starvation. Men,women, children and babies were not spared from this madness and crime against humanity perpetrated by Pol Pot and his band of mostly uneducated peasants.Most prisoners were taken either to Tuol Sleng or Choeung Ek for torture and execution.To save ammunition executions were often carried out using hammers, axe, nails, spades and sharpened bamboo sticks.

A skull punctured by nail.A form of torture

This is one of the most despicable crime against humanity where suspect's whole family including children and babies were killed mercilessly. Like the 'Holocaust' the Combodian government has made it compulsory to preserve and archive evidences of the the atrocities of the bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge and the oppression,anguish and suffering of the Combodian people under the regime. More photos here.

1 comment:

SM said...


If I'm not mistaken, Pol Pot wanted to go one step better than Mao (i.e. the Mao's Cultural Revolution). In fact after Mao's wife visited Cambodia, she wanted to initiate similar reforms! Fortunately it was never done.
Pol Pot is probably rotting in the worst part of hell reserved for characters like him (either that or he's sitting at the right hand of the devil in hell)!