Essay by Meghan Lockhart
Remembrance of a Tragic History:
Stepping out of the van into the blistering heat, fairly cool
to a native Cambodian, the magnificent structure bearing thousands
of cracked skulls stood mounted in the blood-spilled Earth,
giving a daunting feelinga chill up my spinewarning
me this is the place that went down in history as that of
cruelty and animosity. I was at the Killing Fields in Phnom
Penh. While walking the groundsthe
striking, mind haunting bones and clothing poked through the
ground on the walking pathgiving an eerie vibe that
the regime was reality. What depressed me the most was that
in such a horrific place, the environment was so tranquil
when it seemed as if it should be in complete calamity. Calm
music played in the background, beautiful trees and flowers
embraced the ground, and the glorious configuration containing
the thousands of cracked skulls glistened in the sun. At first,
it seemed to be a fake cover-up to the tragic event that many
Khmer people try to hide, even though it should never be forgotten,
or perhaps a splendid false reality for tourist functionality,
except in my mind, the serenity of the environment is in remembrance
of the victims to rest their souls at ease.
one hears the term genocide, the first thought dawns to the
horror of the Holocaust with images of imprisoned families,
mass killings, and gas chambers. What doesnt come to
mind is that of the Khmer Rouge Regime: the Killing Fields.
When I utter the name to friends as if they should feel the
vehemence the name truly contains prickle down their spine,
they stare blankly, unsure of the term I speak of. This name
I speak of, the Khmer Rouge Regime was indeed
genocide; the premeditated and systematic extermination of
a race ostracized by the Angka, a genocide so horrific, that
many Cambodians feel to be the worst in history, for their
own people, Cambodians, did the killings. It was a time that
started April 17th, 1975 when Pol Pot, the leader
of the communist guerrilla group, controlled Cambodia
with the mission to reorganize a society to bring it
backwards in time to a state of agrarian purity. (CBS).
What isnt thought about, are the millions of innocent
civilians killed silently, secretly, while the rest of the
world knew nothing of the occurrence. This is a genocide that made such a drastic effect
on a once prosperous country, forcing it to a great depression
where many people of the country, the Asian Development Bank,
the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World
Health Organization, the World Food Programs, the International
Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations
Children Funds, and multiple countless organizations have
worked to regain the prosperity of the beautiful country once
more. This is a time that many people walking in the streets,
many government officials desire to forget, to carry on, moving
on with their everyday lives, working to better the country,
but this was an inhumane act everyone should be informed of.
Not only to comprehend the tragic history the Khmer people
have endured, but in means to assist, to obstruct this from
ever occurring again.
the dreadful year of 1975 enforced its presence, the Khmer
Rouge took hold of the capitol Phnom Penh forcing two million
inhabitants of the city to march and reside in labor camps
in the country, splitting families apart and closing down
all institutions that symbolized an industrial capitalist
country: hospitals, schools, factories, banks, stores, markets,
everything imaginable was immediately shut down. Along the
way, 20,000 people were killed. Any outside connections to
the surrounding world, to Western civilization, was completely
shunned, any affection or love shown toward a family member
was banned, finding religion and praying was outlawed; all
that was accepted was complete allegiance to the Angka, the
Khmer Rouge government, otherwise the dreaded alternative
of cruel and unusual punishment, leading to the painful truth
of death was the only option. In these camps, over a four-year
period nearly 30 percent of the population, or about 2 million
of 7 million people, were surreptitiously murdered. The most
inhumane, cruel, unfathomable ways of killing people were
the methods the Khmer Rouge resided. They were worked to death,
starved to death, slowly cut to death, infested with scorpions
and other insects, slit in the neck from sharp palm tree leaves,
beat over the head with bamboo sticks, and many other forms
too grotesque to even utter. The Khmer Rouge wouldnt
even waste a single bullet, the friendlier alternative, for
the Angka wouldnt waste their money on ammunition. Rest
and play became terms foreign to the victims, words thought
about in a distant place, in their vacant memories, far and
forsaken, for their workday began at 4 a.m. lasting until10
p.m. From the grueling hard labor, three meals full of nutrients
and vitamins to regain strength and vivaciousness to the body
would be ideal; instead, the prisoners received one tin of
rice or 180 grams for every two days. (History
Place ). To cover the horrific
screams, pleads, and pierces from the victims, Magic
trees stood beautifully in the fields bearing hidden
microphones, forcibly playing thunderous music. Families were
killed, educated people, those wearing glasses, people sympathetic
towards their familyeveryone was killed no matter the
ethnicityeveryone who did not bear allegiance to Angka
were killed, no questions asked. The Khmer Rouge reigned until
January 7th, 1979 when Vietnamese troops captured
but the Pol Pot Regime was still able to prevail through a
resistance movement until the early 1990s. (Wikipeida).
one hears of such cruel, appalling acts, you must ask yourself,
and for what was the purpose of such evil and ignorance that
millions of poor victims must suffer the price of anothers
greed and stupidity? The horror and pain the victims experienced
through the Khmer rouge is unfathomable, forever remaining
a mystery, but always empathizing with, trying to grasp their
sorrows. All of the countless stories from survivors of the
regime absolutely break my heart, for no one on the face of
this civilized planet should suffer such pain
and tragedy. I look to the Khmer victims with admiration.
My thoughts forever go out to each and every victim; with
the hope, their souls will someday be relieved of their memories
and fear of the regime.
Would You Survive?
are the security regulations the prisoners of Tuol Sleng
Prison were forced to abide during their captivity.
YOU MUST ANSWER ACCORDINGLY TO MY QUESTIONS. DON'T TURN
DON'T TRY TO HIDE THE FACTS BY MAKING PRETEXTS THIS
AND THAT. YOU ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED TO CONTEST ME.
DON'T BE A FOOL FOR YOU ARE A CHAP WHO DARE
TO THWART THE REVOLUTION.
YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY ANSWER MY QUESTIONS WITHOUT WASTING
TIME TO REFLECT.
DON'T TELL ME EITHER ABOUT YOUR IMMORALITIES OR THE
ESSENCE OF THE REVOLUTION.
WHILE GETTING LASHES OR ELECTRIFICATION YOU MUST NOT
CRY AT ALL. WHEN I ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING, YOU MUST
DO IT RIGHT AWAY WITHOUT PROTESTING.
DO NOTHING. SIT STILL AND WAIT FOR MY ORDERS. IF
THERE IS NO ORDER, KEEP QUIET.
DON'T MAKE PRETEXTS ABOUT KAMPUCHEA
KROM IN ORDER TO HIDE YOUR JAW OF TRAITOR.
IF YOU DON'T FOLLOW ALL THE ABOVE RULES, YOU WILL GET
MANY LASHES OF ELECTRIC WIRE.
IF YOU DISOBEY ANY POINT OF MY REGULATIONS YOU WILL
GET EITHER TEN LASHES OR FIVE SHOCKS OF ELECTRIC DISCHARGE.
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