Choeung Ek Genocidal Center

            From 1975-1979 the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, murdered 1.7 million people in the Cambodian Genocide. Approximately one quarter of the population died. Pol Pot emptied the cities, abolished money, destroyed all property rights, and got rid of religion. If anyone was thought to be an intellectual, have a skill, know a foreign language, or even wore glasses they were executed.
            Last weekend, I went to visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, the site of one of the main mass graves for victims of the Khmer Rouge. In locations like this, known as “Killing Fields,” the Khmer Rouge executed over one million innocent Cambodian citizens. It sounds obvious, but being guided around the center by an audio tour I was really struck by the brutality of what had occurred there. One of the main images that will really stay with me is the tree where Khmer Rouge soldiers murdered little children and babies by beating them against it. Nearby, there were boxes of teeth and limbs that had been dug up, and eerily, you could hear the music that was played loudly by the Khmer Rouge to cover up the noise from their executions. At the end of the tour is the Memorial Stupa, a sacred Buddhist structure which houses remains of the dead and is meant to support remembering the dead. Inside it, there are hundreds of skulls beaten and broken from the horrors took place there.
             This took place just forty years ago, it likely had a direct effect on most everyone I have met here. I know I have met people whose family members died there.  It is really disturbing to think about how relatively recent this was, and still no one did anything to help.