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The visit to The Killing Fields Memorial wasn’t included in the itinerary but since it was still early for the next destination, the guide decided to bring us there for some educational purposes. It is located at Wat Thmei, a place between Siem Reap town and Angkor Archaeological Park.
The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Communist regime Khmer Rouge, which had ruled the country since 1975. The massacres ended in 1979, when Communist Vietnam invaded the country, which at that time was officially called Democratic Kampuchea, and toppled the Khmers. Estimates of the number of dead range from 1.7 to 2.3 million out of a population of around 7 million. [Source]
There is a commemorative stupa built and filled with skulls of the victims.
John actually told us a long but informative history about this mass killings. We couldn’t help but to listen attentively to his story although we felt we were losing it somewhere during the narration.
The executed were buried in mass graves. In order to save ammunition, executions were often carried out using hammers, axe handles, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. Some victims were required to dig their own graves; their weakness often meant that they were unable to dig very deep. The soldiers who carried out the executions were mostly young men or women from peasant families.
The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Chams (Muslim Cambodians), Cambodian Christians, and the Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution. [Source]
If you feel this is nothing, check out these photos which I took at the site.
I saw a cruel torturing method described in words… and I was literally speechless!
It saddened me of how these people can be so inhumane and cold-blooded.
And now I understand the intention of John for bringing us to this place. I think he just want us to understand a little bit more about the modern Cambodian history.
We hang around the area to visit some Buddhist temples, or to kill time before heading to the next destination. I managed to capture some photos of the kids playing nearby the temple.
And a monk sticking out his tongue too!
Nearby the memorial place, there is a school or to be precise, a language school and John did not hesitate to struck up the conversation and introduced them to us. They are really nice and speak very soft.
Before we left, we took a photo together…
Nice meeting you all!
Next… witnessing sunset at Phnom Bakheng