We’ve lived through many atrocities in our brief time on this planet. The holocaust is our steadfast icon to which we cry ‘never again’. What happened in Europe during the Nazi reign of power was unspeakable and set the baseline for the most barbarous of human will. But what of Cambodia?
In 1975 a communist faction called the Khmer Rouge overthrew a destabilised government to take power by coup detat. A jubilious population in Phnom Penh falsely believed they were supporting a coup that would restore the power of an embattled king.
That afternoon, the Khmer Rouge began marching civilians from the capital and into the fields where they were forced into labor camps. Intellectuals and those incapable of hard labor were typically executed on the spot. Interrogation camps and torture centers were established, most notably in a Phnom Penh high school.
At the time, Cambodias population was around 8 million. When the Cambodian people were liberated by the Vietnamese army some 4 years later, the population stood at 6 million. A quarter of the Cambodian people had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge.
The publicity this atrocity received over the following years was met with skepticism and allegedly a campaign of cover up lead by a US government widely believed to have assisted the Khmer Rouge faction into power.
I encourage you all to read a little bit about what happened here, and if possible, pay the country a visit. I was thanked so many times by local people for supporting tourism and helping these people recover from one of our worst chapters in history.
This picture was taken at one of the mass grave sites. There’s a memorial temple made from the skulls of those who were exhumed here.