The Khmer Rouge was Communist guerrilla movement in Cambodia (formerly Kampuchea) led by Pol Pot, which ruled the country between 1975 and 1979.
The Khmer Rouge killed an estimated 2 -3 million Cambodians via torture, execution, over-work or starvation during its four-year reign. At the time, this was about a quarter to a third of the population. They sought to cleanse Cambodia of capitalists and intellectuals, and to impose a new social structure based entirely on collective agriculture.
The Khmer Rouge regime was forced out of power by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979, but remained as a guerrilla army in the jungles of western Cambodia until 1999. The most mind-blowing thing was that the Khmer Rouge held seats with the United Nations until the 90’s with every government knowing what was happening the whole time. Just a perfect example of world governments being so wary to take any kind of side in any serious matter. Today, some of the Khmer Rouge leaders are being tried for genocide and crimes against humanity. Pol Pot himself died in 1998, before he could face trial.
The term “Khmer Rouge” comes from Khmer, which is the name for the Cambodian people, plus rouge, which is French for “red” – that is to say, Communist.
This day was for visiting the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center aka. The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Prison aka. S21.
Prisoners from the S21 prison were sent to the Killing Fields to be executed on a daily basis by the busload.
Spire housing levels of victim’s remains.
Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge Regime.
The ‘Killing Tree’ in which the executioners were known to hold onto the feet of babies and children and smash their heads on this tree.
Prior to the Killing Fields actually become the Killing Fields, this stretch of land was actually a Chinese graveyard where several remnants of tombstones are scattered over the area. The tombstones were smashed when the regime moved in.
The centre of it all, the Tuol Sleng Prison codenamed S21. This was a school transformed into a prison where they would torture prisoners until the point of confession, then they would be sent to the Killing Fields to be executed.
Murals of victims and torture practices are found at this genocide museum. Definitely one of the heaviest and most depressing days of my trip.
Next, I make my way to Siem Reap, looking forward to visiting the famous UNESCO site – Angkor Archaeological Park.