Readers beware, the next two posts are going to be heavy as we dig into the genocidal history of Cambodia. While in Angkor Wat I saw Cambodia as this magical place with a rich and beautiful past. I wondered what the grounds must have looked like at its peak. While that was the rise of Cambodia, we are now delving into the fall of Cambodia, and the magic turns into terror. If you are not familiar with the Khmer Rouge or the genocide that took place in 1975-1979 led by Pol Pot that killed up to 3 million Cambodians, then here is a quick overview.
As a result, the country was filled with mass graves called killing fields. We visited the most well known one called Choeung Ek just outside of Phnom Penh. It's horrifying, unfathomable, and absolutely terrifying.
What troubled me most was the "killing tree" (seen below), where children were smashed and beaten against the tree to death. The other troubling aspect is that this took place in the 70's. It is not ancient history and the world did nothing. This is nothing short of infuriating.
The grounds include a memorial that house skulls that have been unearthed. Their violent deaths are visible on their skulls as many were killed in vicious, barbaric ways.
The earth is visibly scarred from the atrocities.
The land now with large dips where bodies were once piled also has not recovered.
Could it ever?
How did this happen?