The Killing Fields

I can’t imagine that many people visit Cambodia without including a trip to the Killing Fields or the Genocide Museum.

I did both yesterday.

The Genocide was occurring all over Cambodia around about the time I was in school studying for my ‘O’ Levels (or GCSE’s as they are now) – around about 1975 – 1979.

I knew very little of it at the time.

In essence Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot attempted to form a Communist peasant farming society resulting in the deaths of 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and execution.

That’s around 3 million men, women and children.

Our tour guide, Nicky’s grandparents and Aunt were killed and put into one of the numerous mass graves that have since been found. It was an emotional day finding out about Cambodia’s sad past.

Occupied by the French and at war with Vietnam for hundreds of years (so my Vietnamese Non La hat was put in a bag pretty quickly upon arrival).

Pol Pot (Political Potential) was the saddest part of the history of course – I’ll spare you the details of what we learnt other than one piece of information which will stay with me for the rest of my days:

Bullets were regarded as too expensive to kill the millions of people – they were encouraged to kill using farm implements, slit throats with sharp leaves or spear people with umbrella handles.

Pol Pots followers (Cadre) killed babies in the Killing Fields in-front of their mothers by holding them by their legs and smashing them against a tree.

Think about that for a moment.

I cannot imagine how someone could do such an awful … awful thing to another human being.

But it was “kill or be killed”. If a captor had family members in prison they had to kill them or be killed themselves.

Look at the photographs – and if you can, visit for yourself.

Wars can never bring good. The Killing Fields are an eerie reminder of this.

New arrivals to S21 holding camp – before either their death or transportation to the Killing Fields and ultimate death.
The female guards – all with short hair to be recognisable
New arrivals – with terror in their eyes
The dead
Section C for the female prisoners- barbed wire to stop them jumping out of the building to commit suicide
A few of the 9,000 skulls on display behind glass cabinets – sorted by age and sex in the Killing Fields

“Stupa” – a building holding the bones of the dead

One of the many items of clothing discovered buried – a child’s jumper

#Cambodia #Genocide #KillingFields #PolPot #War

Published by speddinga

Photographer based in North Tyneside, UK - Event, Portrait, website. My website is

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