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Published: March 18th 2015
I get the concept behind Communism, there are no rich or poor. It’s an ideology that, if it worked, could make the world a place where poverty doesn’t exist.
But does Communism work?
I’m not the most intelligent person in the world and I certainly do not claim to know anything about politics but if anyone can tell me a country in which Communism works and has no corruption or poverty then I’d like to know.
After my visit to Phnom Penh I felt truly humbled but also angry.
Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime desecrated the population of Cambodia from 7 million people to 3.5 million people in just three years and eight months.
He captured, tortured and killed every person that previously had been successful or were “rich” but he also did the same to their families, including young children. He also did this to foreigners living in Cambodia from places like Vietnam. He also did this to people who owned jewellery. He also did this to people who wore make up, to people who wore “nice” clothes, to spies, to people he thought were
spies but weren’t, he even did this to people from his own regime if he got paranoid they had switched sides.
If you weren’t with him, you were against him!
He tortured people in numerous ways that I will not go into detail about in my blog. He did this to try to get confessions from people confessing that they were spies. If during the torture these people died, it didn’t matter. His philosophy “It’s better to kill one hundred innocent people than let one guilty person go”.
Nearly twenty thousand mass graves were found around Cambodia, the biggest single mass grave contained one thousand bodies!
As you walk around the killing fields, 15km from Phnom Penh, the first thing you see is a tower, as you get closer you realise that the contents of the tower are thousands of skulls of those killed. Some of the skulls are marked to show you which weapon was used to slaughter them. Some skulls fractured or with holes in from the numerous blunt trauma blows received to kill them so Pol Pot’s regime could save ammunition.
you walk around the killing fields there are numerous signs saying “Do not step on bones” surely no one would walk in the actual mass graves. It isn’t until you take a good look at the ground that you realise what the signs mean. The bodies of those buried are not only in the mass graves, even on the paths you can see bones appearing from beneath your feet. With each rainfall more dirt is washed away and more bones and items of clothing are revealed.
The most heart wrenching moment for me was seeing the tree which soldiers used to kill babies by smashing their heads against the tree.
I’m not sure if visiting S21 prison, which used to be a school, was more or less horrific. At one point Nikki was in tears and had to leave to compose herself. Blood stains are still clearly visible on the ceilings from those tortured and murdered. Electrified barbed wire fences surround the perimeter of the complex of four buildings but also wraps around the external walkways of some of the buildings too, this was to prevent people from committing suicide.
are pictures of a number of people that were killed there but no names. The pictures are left up so that Cambodian people can visit to possibly identify the pictures as lost relatives, it’s impossible to be able to identify their bodies though as all bodies were put into mass graves and there is no record of which body was placed in which grave. Our guide lost several family members during the regime and his brother thought in the army against the regime.
There were only seven survivors from S21 and I was fortunate enough to meet two of them in the grounds of S21. They experienced things worse than anyone can imagine, both were happy to chat and even playfully laugh and joke around. A true testament to the type of people they are!
We had to visit the royal palace a day earlier than planned as there was a visit to the palace of members of Lao’s parliament. The royal palace is a fairly big complex of buildings that, as you can imagine, are very ornate and the belongings inside are as ostentatious as you can imagine. I think the biggest gold
statue weighs 90kg. Nikki and I both agreed that the royal palace looked a bit like Disneyland though.
We also visited Wat Penh, a man made hill made for the woman in which Phnom Penh got its name. I’d like to go into more detail but it was a hill with a temple at the top, after visiting Siem Reap all over temples are going to be hard to write about.
We finished our trip in Cambodia with a visit to the National Museum. Pieces taken from various temples around Cambodia, both pre and post Angkor period. It’s a fairly small museum but worth a visit if you have spare time.
During our time in Cambodia we have visited a few places. The temples in Siem Reap are unique and unlike any others I’ve seen in the world. The beaches of Sihanoukville and Kep embody beauty mixed with parties and tranquillity in equal measures. But for me the highlight was Phnom Penh, the city itself is dirty, as most cities are, but to learn about the history, to see the places in which so much has happened, to be told about
it by a person whose family were involved in it and to meet two of the survivors from such horrible atrocities was truly overwhelming.
I still find it hard to believe that such things happened to people still alive in my lifetime, I hope that another mass genocide never happens again in my lifetime or ever again, no human deserves that suffering.
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