Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Killing Fields...

I have wanted to post about this for a long time--but not wishing to offend anyone, I kept putting if off. However, I strongly feel that a visit to Cambodia is not complete without visiting that part of history that cannot not be ignored. In 1973, Pol Pot overthrew the government of Cambodia and established a military controlled regime. (In 1973, I was a young mother just starting a new life in Hawaii...absorbed in my life, not realizing what was happening in Cambodia.) Pol Pot was brutal. He had the same convictions as Chairman Mao and believed that all who were educated or of an upper class needed to be repatriated--which he did through work camps and death squads. Almost everyone living in Cambodia today has suffered the loss of family and friends.
Just outside of Phenom Phen, there is a quiet grove of trees that at first glance looks to be a small park. In actuality, it is one of many groves where thousands of Cambodians were taken (many after being tortured), to die a brutal death. When approaching the grove, the first thing you see a large Stupa.
It is a memorial to the dead, and houses the skulls of over 8,000 people. The brutal methods of killing are irrefutable when gazing at the remains. Scattered throughout the grove, you can see mounds of dirt and holes. The mounds are the remaining mass graves that have been left in peace. The holes signify that the bodies have been removed
. As you walk along the path, you are touched and horrified by the bits of cloth and bone that has worked it's way to surface. Then you realized that the path is only for today's walk--back then it was a part of the mass graves.
Their brutality was chilling. Trees were used to hang loudspeakers to muffle the cries of death. Trees were used as killing instruments on small children--they didn't want to waste their bullets.

These groves are called 'The Killing Fields." Today, they are the caretakers of their dead, standing as a witness against man's inhumanity to man.


  1. Wow — what a sobering place. Very neat that you got to go there.

  2. oh my...we have our problems here in the U.S. but am I grateful to live in this country! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Whoa. How disturbing and....unfair? Thank you for the reminder of how little we know of what others have suffered.

  4. What an experience. It is so good to see these kind of things. The more we are aware of these things the more we can prevent them.

  5. i finally had it in me to read this post.
    sobering but so critical we know the history.

    (and welcome home!!)