”Don’t Get It” Things of the World – Cambodian Massacre

Feelings — 20.4.2016

Right. Not the lightest theme for the day. I must be a bit fucked up to spend my free time writing about one of the most fucked up happenings in the world. It’s history now. But still I’m a person that likes diving deep into shit. To say it in a bit nicer and a clearer way I can empathise, and I feel it’s my duty to give for 100 per cent empathy. Also, the purpose of Whattawowworld is not only to admire our beautiful world but also to be aware how to keep it beautiful, avoid disasters and spread love instead. Thus, I write about the true-based sick story of Cambodian massacre or rather what I learned while I visited Phnom Penh and the country.

Even though I had all the evidence in front – thousands of crushed skulls, broken bones, clothes and shoes that were left behind, the last mug shots of the victims, etc. – I still don’t realise that all this happened. In this lifetime. In fact, only 41 years ago, less than ten years before my birth.

Sad people watching the crushed skulls
Sad people looking at the crushed skulls
There were 17 levels of skulls in the memorial Stupa at Choeung Ek killing fields
There were 17 levels of skulls in the memorial Stupa at the Choeung Ek killing fields
A kid's purple shorts were left behind
A kid’s purple shorts were left behind
A woman's sandal
A woman’s sandal
All the victims were photoshooted and filed before their torture and killing
All the victims were photoshooted and filed before torturing and killing them

On a similar sunny April days like these, in 17th of April 1975 and during the next three years, eight months and twenty days CPK – the Communist Party of Kampuchea – known as the Khmer Rouge started and kept killing millions of innocent people, Cambodians. Cambodians killing Cambodians, WTF?

First, the lunatics won the governance of the country. Immediately they emptied the cities and started to drive their utopia about a communistic shared economy and people living only in the countryside growing rice unrealistically three times more than before. The Khmer Rouge shut down everything: money didn’t exist anymore, they killed the Khmer culture – music, wedding ceremonies or spiritual acts weren’t allowed anymore, the borders were shut down, and all the state bureaus, schools, and hospitals were closed down. The life ended, literally. Uneducated boys in the countryside were enrolled to kill their fellow citizens under the sick ideology. A third of the nation was killed – an estimated 2-3 million people. Among the actual killings also diseases and hunger killed people… The Khmer Rouge leaders didn’t think it all the way through when they cut the doctors throats too. The practice was to kill all the learned people: teachers, working people, monks, politicians, diplomats – all those who could read. Everyone: men, women and their kids and babies. All these people were seen as enemies and lawbreakers. Later on, the communists also started to kill their own soldiers and people. The shade of getting paranoid was coming over Pol Pot – the root of all evil. Can you imagine that this killer could live his life happily(?) ever after. After the Vietnamese invaded in the country and ended the horrific times, Pol Pot could still continue his life and communistic influence while in exile – the worst and most ridiculous thing, supported by the world unions.

“Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake” –Pol Pot

“To dig of the grass one must remove the roots too” –Pol Pot

The teacher colleague of mine that I had while I was doing the voluntary work in Takeo province – Samnang – had also lost a lot of family during these years of killings. He lost his uncles and grandpa at least. His grandma could only survive because she couldn’t read – unlike grandpa. Samnang’s parents who were very young back then managed to escape. I met the whole family when I visited their house in the poor countryside. I didn’t know how to be for instance when meeting the grandma – being Western I felt stupid to communicate with a person that had lived through something that horrible. Samnang’s grandma never fell in love again. Luckily she had some of the family left – to live for. I wonder how can a person learn to accept this kind of injustice and violence? Because there is no choice? Where does the famous bright Cambodian smile rise from when their history has such a chapter in hell? Well, so many got killed that the nation is quite young, and not necessarily all know how to observe their history if even willing to. But the ones that remained alive have seen the hell. And this should be remembered and respected when bypassing them.

Samnang and his parent's who managed to escape the massacre when they were teenagers - their brothers and fathers died though.
Samnang and his parent’s who managed to escape the massacre when they were teenagers – their brothers and fathers died though. When I was teaching and staying in Takeo I found it hard to believe that there were killing fields also in front of my guesthouse…

When I was visiting Phnom Penh’s famous and popular ‘attractions’, Choeung Ek killing fields and the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, I thought they are probably one of the only tourist sights in the world were tourists actually stay quiet – like the signs propose. Respecting the memory of the victims has a great presence. I claim that everyone’s tear ducts get wet while reading about the crimes against humanity. The most shocking to me was the killing tree against which the executors beat babies. Also, the thousands of mug shots of the victims in their last days were very touching. It was so unreal that those people have sometimes really existed and then lost their lives like that. I could sense different tones of miserable feelings in the pictures: besides desperation and horror, there was also some kind of rebellious wtf faces, anger, faith, and begging mercy. Well, in the end, I have no clue about the feelings.

Everyone stayed quiet and respected the memory of the victims
Everyone stayed quiet and respected the memory of the victims
This tree has been here ever since and once it was covered with skin and hair of the babies. So sorry to tell this.
This tree has been here ever since and once it was covered with skin and hair of the babies. So sorry to tell this.
The grave of the women and their babies
The grave of the naked and raped women and their babies
Illustrated mug shot. I wanted to respect the victims and didn't take pictures of the touching photos of them.
Illustrated mug shot. I wanted to respect the victims and didn’t take pictures of the touching photos of them.

In Tuol Sleng prison located in Phnom Penh centre, the victims were first accused of “the crimes they had committed” and then tortured. Afterwards, they had been transported 15 kilometres in the trucks to the south to Choeung Ek killing fields. There they had been put to a cramped warehouse to wait their turn to get killed. The slaughter took place when the night fell. There weren’t guns; guns were too expensive. Thus, the executors killed with all kinds of different striking weapons, blades, axes and even sharp bamboo sticks. When the body turned into a corpse, they just threw it among the other bodies in the pothole. Over 300 killing fields have been found in Cambodia – can’t imagine the amount of the potholes. When killing, there was a loud revolutionary music coming from the loudspeakers – to cover the moans of the victims. The outsiders behind the walls thought there was a communistic meeting taking place. The craziest part is that the whole world stayed all unknowing about the horrifying happenings in Cambodia. Or no one believed the rumours. The news did tell about the facts only later. Between 75 to 79 Cambodia lived and died all by itself.

The victims were waiting i a tight warehouse their turn to get killed
The victims were waiting in a tight warehouse their turn to get killed
RIP 450 victims
RIP 450 victims
The killing tools the executors used
The killing tools the executors used

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Cambodia was upside down
Cambodia upside down
The revolutionary music was played loud during the killings to cover the moans of the victims. That and the sound of the diesel generator were the last sounds they heard before the died.
The revolutionary music was played loud to cover the moans of the victims. That and the sound of the diesel generator were the last sounds the victims heard before they died.

Think about the anger that can exist towards different people and thoughts. You don’t necessarily go and kill at first, but you surely know you have judged others and ideas. You do it all the time. Until on some day, you might notice the growth inside, get enlightened, and go towards the light. You see the world in a whole new way. The people who face this self-development are needed – we are the ones who will be saving the world. How deep was that. LOVE!

All the info based on the information I learned during my visit at Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng.

A reading suggestion based on the Cambodian massacre and true experiences: Loung Ung – First they killed my father

Green grass, trees and flowers, thousands of butterflies like there were the victims' souls fleeting around, the bird sing and the sun rays. Life has continued at the Choueng Ek.
Green grass, trees and flowers, thousands of butterflies like there were the victims’ souls fleeting around, the bird sing and the sun rays. Life has continued at the Choueng Ek.
You could walk along and think about the the past of the place at Choeung Ek
You could walk along and think about the the past of the place at Choeung Ek

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According to a Khmer belief, a person who hasn't been giving a proper burial will have to live on as a ghost, unable to find a peace. That is why you can see a lot of spiritual houses like this in Cambodia - a places to rest for the wandering souls.
According to a Khmer belief, a person who hasn’t been giving a proper burial will have to live on as a ghost, unable to find a peace. That is why you can see a lot of spiritual houses like this in Cambodia – the places to rest for the wandering souls.
The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields
The victims around my age
The victims around my age
People going to Stupa to respect the memory of the victims
People going to Stupa to respect the memory of the victims
The Memorial Stupa
The Memorial Stupa
In Cambodia I saw quite a many paintings that were telling the story of the massacre
In Cambodia I saw quite a many paintings that were telling the story of the massacre
Memorials at Tuol Sleng
Memorial at Tuol Sleng
The rules that the prisoners had to follow
The rules that the prisoners had to follow
Here the prisoners were tortured by hanging and dipping them in the water
Here the prisoners were tortured by hanging and dipping them in water
Mr Meng is telling his story here at the same yard where he was a prison 40 years ago
One of the survivors Mr Meng is telling his story here at the same place where he was a prisoner waiting to get killed 40 years ago
One of the survivors was Mr Meng who only survived because he was a talented artist and could draw a portrait of Pol Pot. Some scenes of his story on paper.
Mr Meng could only survive because he was a talented artist and could draw a portrait of Pol Pot. Some scenes of his story on paper.
Survivors returning home
Survivors returning home
Memorial at Tuol Sleng
Memorial at Tuol Sleng
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