Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Khmer Rouge

I wanted to take photograph of Cambodia from the plane before it landed. There laid before my eyes were paddy fields. It looked like most of the land was composed of paddy fields. And so barren, I wondered.

Before coming to Cambodia, my husband made a plan to visit some landmarks in Phnom Penh. We visited the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. There my eyes were opened. The things I saw and read explained why there's such a huge and yet barren paddy field: The Khmer Rouge.

The term "Khmer Rouge," French for "Red Khmer", was coined by Cambodian head of state Norodom Sihanouk and was later adopted by English speakers. The Khmer Rouge is remembered mainly for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people or 1/5 of the country's total population (estimates range from 850,000 to two million) under its regime, through execution, torture, starvation and forced labor.

The prison cell

Following their leader Pol Pot (real name was Saloth Sar), the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society — a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population (est. 7.5 million people, as of 1975), it was one of the most lethal regimes of the 20th century.

Instruments that were used for torture during interrogation time

Khmer Rouge wanted to eliminate anyone suspected of "involvement in free-market activities". Suspected capitalists encompassed professionals and almost everyone with an education, many urban dwellers, and people with connections to foreign governments. Khmer Rouge believed parents were tainted with capitalism.

The Interrogation room

Consequently, children were separated from parents and brainwashed to socialism as well as taught torture methods with animals. Children were a "dictatorial instrument of the party" and were given leadership in torture and executions.

One of the prisoners

About Pol Pot:

Saloth Sar was born in Prek Sbauv in Kampong Thom Province in 1928 to a moderately wealthy family of Chinese-Khmer descent.

His Death:

On the night of 15 April, 1998 the Voice of America, of which Pol Pot was a devoted listener, announced that the Khmer Rouge had agreed to turn him over to an international tribunal. According to his wife, he died in his bed later in the night while waiting to be moved to another location. Ta Mok claimed that his death was due to heart failure. Despite government requests to inspect the body, it was cremated a few days later at Anlong Veng in the Khmer Rouge zone, raising strong suspicions that he committed suicide or was poisoned.

Source: wikipedia.org

The skulls of the victims of Khmer Rouge

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