May 2, 2017 – The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (The Killing Fields) and Toul Slang S21 Genocide Museum

killing tree

“The Killing Tree”

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskZDkNoq

In my hostel, I met two guys Tyler and Nathan from Nanaimo, British Colombia! That is so close to my home. Together we visited the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center also known as the Killing Fields. During the Khmer Regime, this place was used to execute people transported from Phnom Penh.

According to their pamphlet: “Choeung Ek is the most well know of over 300 killing fields throughout Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge did unspeakable things to kill people. Bullets were too expensive so they used bamboo poles, axes, and anything else they could get their hands on to kill people. They would play loud music to muffle people’s screams at night. There is even a “Killing Tree”. They would hold infants by their legs and smash their heads into the tree until they were lifeless.”

Over 3 million people or 1 in 5 people were killed in three years by the Khmer Rouge. It was absolutely devastating and a chilling place to be.

Next, Tyler, Nathan, and I went to the Toul Slang S21 Genocide Museum. Residing on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, this high school was turned into a torture, interrogation, and execution center by the Khmer Rouge. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Every person was photographed and had their height measured before they were executed.

The brick cells in some of the buildings were incredibly tiny. Most prisoners only got one meal a day of rice in boiling water. Some prisoners got a shower twice in two months. Instead of living through such grueling and torturing circumstances, many individuals committed suicide before having the chance to be executed.

I was wondering why their hands were rarely shown in photographs… and then I realized they were most likely handcuffed behind their backs. Around the grounds, the museum had a few survivors of S21 who gave speeches.

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