Amazingly, NOTHING here is under glass! You can get up close and personal with all the weapons. There is the smell of gun oil everywhere.
|A 1999 Calander that explains what landmines look like and what you need to do when you see one....|
From Siem Reap we took a 6 hour bus ride to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s busy capital. "Here sits the junction of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. It was a hub for both the Khmer Empire and French colonialists. On its walkable riverfront, lined with parks, restaurants and bars, are the ornate Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, displaying artifacts from around the country. At the city’s heart is the massive, art deco Central Market." (From the tour book)
That is what we had hoped for.... What we got was over whelming, overbearing traffic, heat and smells. Over crowded by too many cars and some 5000 tuk-tuks and another 10,000 motor cycles, this place appears to have no control over the madness. We stayed in a "boutique hotel", which is a fancy way of saying a "shitty small hotel". The place was called Prasats We had to change rooms 3 times in 4 days, but as usual, we made the most of it.
HORRIBLE THINGS FOLLOWOur first day of touring may be the most depressing we have ever been anywhere. Visiting the Killing Fields and S-21 was, without a doubt the most frightening two places we have ever been.
These are the places that the Khmer Rouge carried out some of the worlds worst human atrocities. Right up there with the places where millions of people were exterminated in WW2 under Adolf Hitler, this piece of human filth (Pol Pot and his cronies) tourtured and exterminated millions of his own people from 1975-1979.
The various Killing Fields throughout Cambodia hold approximately 20,000 mass grave sites holding at least 1,386,734 victims of execution. Estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a population of roughly 8 million. In 1979, Vietnam invaded Democratic Kampuchea and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime. This was seen as the end of the genocide. The Cambodian journalist Dith Pran coined the term "killing fields" after his escape from the regime.
The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Cham, Cambodian Christians, and the Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution.
The only thing more sad than remains of the places where this took place was seeing young girls smiling and laughing taking selfies in front of the rows of human skulls...
From there we returned to town where we visited S-21. This site is a former secondary school which was used as Security Prison 21. Today it is known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and is not a place for the faint of heart.
In 1976 construction began to change the school into a prison. The buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes and suicides.
From 1976 to 1979, an estimated 20,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng (the real number is unknown). At any one time, the prison held between 1,000–1,500 prisoners. They were repeatedly tortured and coerced into naming family members and close associates, who were in turn arrested, tortured and killed.
|One of the many "interogation" rooms....|
|The picture on the wall was taken by the people who liberated the prison in 1979.|
Most disturbing was the rooms filled with pictures of people who were arrested and brought here...
Twenty-six-year-old John D. Dewhirst, a British tourist, was one of the youngest foreigners to die in the prison. He was sailing with his New Zealand companion, Kerry Hamill, and their Canadian friend Stuart Glass when their boat drifted into Cambodian territory and was intercepted by Khmer patrol boats on August 13, 1978. Glass was killed during the arrest, while Dewhirst and Hamill were captured, blindfolded, and taken to shore. Both were executed after having been tortured for several months at Tuol Sleng. Witnesses reported that a foreigner was burned alive; initially, it was suggested that this might have been John Dewhirst, but a survivor would later identify Kerry Hamill as the victim of this particular act of brutality.
One of the last foreign prisoners to die was twenty-nine-year-old American Michael S. Deeds, who was captured with his friend Christopher E. DeLance on November 24, 1978 while sailing from Singapore to Hawaii. His confession was signed a week before the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia and ousted the Khmer Rouge. In 1989, Deeds' brother, Karl Deeds, traveled to Cambodia in attempts to find his brother's remains, but was unsuccessful. On September 3, 2012, DeLance's photograph was identified among the caches of inmate portraits.
|There was an onsite metal shop where skilled prisoners were forced to manufacture shackles and instruments of torture.|
|This photo was taken in the 1980's as the scope of this horror was being uncovered....|
Sadly, this kind of brutal inhumanity hasn't ended. Maybe one day....