So today I went to visit Tuol Seng prison in Phnom Penh. It was formerly a school but when the Khmer Rouge rolled into town it was converted into a prison/torture centre. Grim doesn't begin to describe it.
You start the tour walking through rooms with single steel beds on them equipped with metal restraining posts for prisoners. Overlooking the beds are portraits of the last vctims of that area which were found when the Khmer Rouge were overthrown. Shackled to their beds and set alight to burn to death. Next is a list of rules which is basically a bunch of rules like "While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry out at all." The next section is hundreds (hundreds!) of photos of men, women and children, arms restrained, sunken dark eyes in the back of their heads looking at you. Some are battered, some are crying some have quiet resignation in their faces, some of the kids are smiling. All of them are dead. Its about here you try to choke back tears.
And it goes on and you get a peek at what happens when you pass from the heart of darkness into the realms of pure, unrelenting evil. I don't know the madness that leads to a million people (conservative estimate) being killed within a four year period from mass executions, overwork and starvation. The paranoia that gripped the Khmer Rouge leaders which led to the death of anyone of being anti-revolutionary (even the loyalist soldiers) but not stopping there, killing their families, their children, even waiting until a pregnant woman gives birth THEN killing her and her newborn. Its beyond fucked up, beyond such rational thought. The soldiers were forced to work the prison or be killed as traitors, the thousands of people taken to the killing fields and bludgeoned to death to save bullets. There was no way out no matter what you believed. Death, death, death, everywhere.
And then to read this in the comments book:
"Cambodia has changed over the last few years to be a wonderful free place because of the truth and the word being sent out to the world. Cheer up!"
Cheer up? I guess they missed the photos of the slaughtered children. Fucking moron.
Wow, what a downer. The fucking moron is right in one respect, Cambodia is indeed a wonderful place. The people are lovely and the country itself is a crazed mishmash of its dark history and ultimate resilience through time to multiple invasions, occupations and its own internal politics. A true eye opener but no photos today. Too much today.