Cambodia – Choeung Ek and S-21

I had heard of Pol Pot before visiting Cambodia, but only in a general sense. I had no idea of the extent of the atrocities that he and his Khmer Regime committed.

During my visit to Cambodia in July 2015 I found out what had happened in the late 1970s.
3 kilometres from the capital of Phnom Penh lies the killing fields of Choeung Ek.

Over a million people were murdered, men and women, old and young, Khmer, Viet Cong and foreign.

There are 129 mass graves in the former orchard.
The bodies that have been exhumed have been placed in a Buddhist Stupa on the site to commemorate those that have died and also in the hope that one day DNA testing can be undertaken.
Mothers were made to watch as the Khmer Rouge cadres smashed the heads of their babies against the trunk of a tree and then were raped before having their throats cut with a palm stem or bashed with an iron bar.
Afterwards, both mother and baby were buried in a mass grave close to the Killing Tree, naked.
Nearly all of those that were murdered at Choeung Ek were prisoners detained in Security Prison 21, also known as Toul Sleng.
S-21 was a detention centre in the heart of Phnom Penh.
Barbed wire around 3 storey buildings to stop suicides

 

Prisoners tied upside down. When they lost consciousness, they would be dipped in stagnant water 
The rules of the prison

 

Individual cell. 

There were 7 known survivors of S-21, two of who now stay at the museum in an effort to tell the new generation the atrocities that they survived.

Chum Mey, survived 12 days of torture, including being electrocuted and having his big toe nail ripped out.

 

Today, tour guides will not answer specific questions about those in power during the regime in public as a lot of those involved in the Khmer government are still, or have family members, involved in government today.

 

 

* I visited Choeung Ek and S-21 as part of my Cambodia Discovery tour with Intrepid Travel.  Both sites can be visited by tuktuk from Phnom Penh.

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