The Killing Fields Near Phnom Penh (Scroll down for pictures)
------On 2004.07.15 12:50, Dick Cappels wrote
About a week ago I went to Cambodia for a few days. On one day, a friend
form Bangkok and I went out to The Killing Fields. This is one place near
Phnom Penh where the Khmer Rouge took thousands of people and killed them by
various methods. There was little there, but a stupa, a tall building
holding the exhumed bones of hundreds of victims (men, women, children) open
to the air but behind a wall of glass. Behind it was the filed, and several
shallow pits, no more than one or two meters deep at most, from which they
remove the bones on display, paths that wound through the filed, and a shady
area in which to rest. A sign was in the resting area, and I photographed it
and attached the image to this email.
As we walked among the half dozen or so pits, which were mass graves, my
friend pointed down and said "notice the pieces of bone in the trail." I
thought he was kidding, but upon looking a little closer, I could see small
bone chips and even lengths of small bones, like you would expect to see in
a finger or child's arm, poking up through the packed soil of the trail.
Then I realized that the small pieces of fabric mixed in among the soil was
clothing and realized the magnitude of this horrific period in Cambodia's
history. Something like 9.000 people were brutally killed in that field,
usually for nothing more significant than having been a teacher or having
worn glasses ( sign of being an intellectual), or being the child of
one of those.
Take a couple of minutes to read the sign from The Killing Fields in the
attached GIF file. Its a reminder that only a fine line separates what we
call "civilized" humans from something much worse.
Maybe next time (and there have been many since) we won't turn a blind eye.
Dick [Scroll down for pictures]
The first thing you see as you come into the parking lot are beggars with missing limbs, most likely from land mines and a small souvenir shop in one corner of the parking lot. As you look beyond the beggars, you see this tall shrine, holding the exhumed skulls. Extending perhaps 100 meters behind the shrine are the mass graves about another 75 meters wide (dimensions from memory), where the victims were murdered and buried. To the right of the shrine is sheltered concrete slab with a sign explaining the history of the sight.
This was generated from a two photographs of the sign at the sheltered concrete slab. If you click on the image, you will be able to read the text from a larger image. Here is the text as I tried to transcribe it verbatim:
"THE MOST TRAGIC
EVEN IN THIS 20TH CENTURY, ON KAMPUCHEAN OIL THE CLIQUE OF POL POT CRIMINALS HAD COMMITTED A HEINOUS GENOCIADAL ACT. THEY MASSACRED THE POPLULATION WITH ATROCITY IN A LARGE SCALE. IT WAS MORE CRUEL THAN THE GENOCIDAL ACT COMMITTED BY THE HITLER FACISTS, WHICH THE WORLD HAS NEVER MET.
WITH THE COMMEMORATIVE STUPA IN FRONT OF US, WE IMAGINE THAT WE ARE HEARING THE GREVIOUS VOICE OF THE VICTIMS WHO WERE BEATEN BY POL POT MEN WITH CANES, BAMBOO STUMPS OR HEADS O F xxxxxxxxxxxxOES. WHO WERE STABBED WITH KNIVES OR SWORDS WE SEEM TO BE LOOKING AT THE HORRIFYING SCENES AND THE PANIC. STRICKEN FACES OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE DYING OF STARVATION, FORCED LABOUR OR TORTURE WITHOUT MERCY UPON THE SKINNY BODY, THEY DIED WITHOUT GIVING THE LAST WORDS TO THEIR KITH AND KIN. HOW HURTFUL THOSE VICTIMS WERE WHEN THEY GOT BEATEN WITH CANES HEADS OF HOES AND STABBED WITH KNIVES OR SWORDS BEFORE THEIR LAST BREATH WENT OUT. HOW BITTER THEY WERE WHEN SEEING THEIR BELOVED CHILDREN, WIVES, HUSBANDS, BROTHERS, OR SISTERS WERE SEIZED AND TIGHTLY BOUND BEFORE BEING TAKEN TO THE MASS GRAVE!
WHILE THEY WERE WAITING FOR THEIR TURN TO COME AND SHARE THE SAME TRAGIC LOT.
THE METHOD OF MASSACRE WITH THE CLIQUE OF POL POT CRIMINALS WAS CARRIED UPON THE INNOCENT PEOPLE OF KAMPUCHEA CANNOT BE DESCRIBED FULLY AND CLEARLY IN WORDS BECAUSE THE INVENTION OF THIS KILLING METHOD WAS STRANGELY CRUEL SO IT IS DIFFICULT FOR US TO DETERMINE WHO THEY ARE FOR: THEY HAVE THE HUMAN FORM BUT THEIR HEARTS ARE DEAMON'S HEARTS, THEY HAVE GOT THE KHMER FACE BUT THEIR ACTIVITIES ARE PURELY REACTIONARY. THEY WANTED TO TRANSFORM CAMPUCHEAN PEOPLE INTO A GROUP OF PERSONS WITHOUT REASON OR A GROUP WHO KNEW AND UNDERSTOOD NOTHING, WHO ALWAYS BENT THEIR HEADS TO CARRY OUT ANKARS' ORDERS BLINDLY THEY HAD EDUCATED AND TRANSFORMED YOUNG PEOPLE AND THE ADOLESCENT WHOSE HEARTS ARE PURE, GENTLE AND MODEST INTO ODIOUS EXECUTIONERS WHO DARED TO KILL THE INNOCENT AND EVEN THEIR OWN PARENTS, RELATIVES, OR FRIENDS.
THEY HAD BURNT THE MARKET PLACE, ABOLISHED MONETARY SYSTEM, ELIMINATED BOOKS OF RULES AND PRINCIPLES OF NATIONAL CULTURE, DESTROYED SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, PAGODAS, AND THE BEAUTIFUL MONUMENTS SUCH AS ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE WHICH IS THE SOURCE OF PURE NATIONAL PRIDE AND BEARS THE GENIUS, KNOWLEDGE AND INTELLIGENCE OF OUR NATION
THEY WERE TRYING HARD TO GET RID OF KHMER CHARACTER AND TRANSFORMATION THE SOIL AND WATERS OF KAMPUCHEA INTO A SEA OF BLOOD AND TEARS WHICH WAS DEPRIVE OF CULTURAL INFRASTRUCTURE, CIVILISATION AND NATIONAL CHARACTER, BECAME A DESERT OF GREAT DESTRUCTION THAT OVERTURNED THE KAMPUCHEAN SOCIETY AND DROVE IT BACK ON THE STONE. AGE"
This is one of the excavated mass graves behind the stupa. Its quietness and tranquility belies the mass tragedy of only 20 years before. It is haunted by the children of the survivors, following visitors to the site around, begging for "Money for school."
Looking close at the hard packed trails among the graves reveals bones and rags.
On the shelves inside the shrine are the exhumed skulls of victims. The holes in the skulls are testimonial to the crudeness and cruelty of the execution methods.
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