I would like to continue today by concluding the Cambodia trip with our visit to the Cheoung Ek Killing Fields just outside of Phnom Penh. The Red Khmer selected the location, due to its remoteness. The place is surrounded by agriculture and was back in the 70’s. This way, the sounds the eh atrocities made wouldn’t bother “the neighbors” or worse raise suspicion. No, this was a fine location for some thrifty genocide. Thrifty, because the wise leadership declared, that bullets were too valuable for killing the people in the camp. Instead, the leadership challenged the camp administration to save bullets and get creative t still get all the killing done. This led to some of the behaviors that are clear indications to me, that man is NOT the crown of creation. We may be the furthest evolved, but if evolution takes the wrong turn it clearly is nothing to be proud of or brag about. May be the planet should be run by dolphins, whales, eagles, finches, cheetahs, golden Labradors, sunflowers and palm trees – just a thought.
Cheoung Ek was used for systematic killing of anyone for any reason – think industrialized killing, similar to the German concentration camps under the National-Socialists between 1933 – 45.
The camp has 126 has graves. A few of tim were exhumed and the bones were stacked in a memorial stupa in the center often camp. During rainy season, the has graves release some of what thy keep. bones, teeth and pieces of cloth come to the surface freed by the rain water. What you see below is the undulating landscape left by some of the exhumed mass graves.
The Red Khmer, in their zeal, were no discerning killers. Man, woman, child, this on the list were killed. The direction was, that if a “traitor” was killed, to kill his entire family, in order t prevent revenge late on from the “traitor’s” family left behind. The camp administration got creative, to save bullets they tore babies and infants from their mothers and slammed them against the tree until the victims were dead. For good measure the parents were often forced to witness. I cannot begin to imagine the sheer horror.
Today, the area around Cheoung Ek is inhabited and farmed by families with children. I am not sure if the families round the site comprehend where they life or if they have ever talked or ever will talk to their children about the neighborhood. But the children smiling were a stark contrast to the crimes committed here less than forty years ago.
To close the chapter of the Red Khmer atrocities, take a look at the prisoner guideline at the Toul Sleng prison, I wrote about yesterday.
I will leave you with my take away from this trip. Whenever we travel we meet grab people – local people. Sure they have a clear incentive to be nice and polite, but my premise is that people are generally good. Humans are capable of great acts of kindness, completely unselfish. Human life centers around having to do something to get something. Think of something simple like eating. I can put food in front of a person, but if the person is unwilling to do something, like picking up the spoon and mooing food to his mouth, and chewing the food, the person is going to die. My current hypothesis of why history allays repeats itself with dictators, despots and cremes against humanity is because there are a few rotten individuals among us that are too lazy to pick up the spoon to eat. Thy spend all their energy once in their pathetic little life, to devise a plot to subdue a suffering people. They create a system that outwardly is for the benefit of the people, but makes them the only real beneficiary of everything. Their system is quickly revealed as self-serving – enter the scape-goat. The pattern is always the same: a few lazy – possibly educated individuals, a large desperate people (starvation, lacking education, a see of hopelessness and unemployment are a plus), a minority easily singled out to blame when the system designed to fail the people fails the people. The final ingredient grand promises of grand and fast improvements. Once the system has ben established and the populous has ben converted to brainless robots, the few individuals have achieved their life ambition – letting everyone else cater to their every need and little idolization may not be a bad thing either.