Until recently, I was largely unaware of Cambodia and it’s modern history. The country and its people have been through a terrible ordeal and its amazing to see glowing smiles on the other side.
Outside Phnom Penh, Corey and I toured Cambodia’s famous Killing Fields, which was one of the many sites that the newly established Khmer Rouge began their acts of genocide in 1975. The middle class and the educated were targeted first. Anyone seen as a threat was shipped by bus to an undisclosed location, brutally murdered, and tossed into a grave awaiting hundreds of souls.
The mass graves were discovered after the Vietnamese removed the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979. Thousands of Cambodian remains were unearthed and each fragment detailed the story of the Khmer Rouge’s secret genocide. Monuments and markers have been created to further share Cambodia’s story.
The first thing you notice when walking through the site is nature having run amok. It’s hard to imagine the horrors that once occurred on a landscape that is so overgrown. The prisoners were marched in on the same footpaths we traversed. We soon noticed the grassy crevices in the earth where thousands had been excavated. Crude weapons which were used to beat the innocent to death hung on display. In memoriam, beautiful wristbands were placed on a tree which acted as a killing surface for hundreds of infants.
Simply walking through the country sides you can see Cambodia playing a game of catch up. They have practically just begun reorganization, after having wrestled their government back from the Vietnamese and ousting the Khmer Rouge’s seat from the UN in 1993.