Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge

The Khmer Rouge well documented their activities
The history of Cambodia is quite troublesome for us as Americans because our government was complicit in so much that happened here.

The Khmer Rouge, based in Cambodia, were supporting the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.  The US bombed the hell out of them from 1970 - 1973 trying to disrupt the supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh trail.  This helped the Khmer gain support from the eastern rural areas and they emerged victorious from their civil war in 1975.   
Mass graves

During the time that the Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1978, they murdered 2-3 million of the roughly 7 million total population in a mass genocide of educated people and their families.  If my math is correct, that's over 1 person per minute killed 24 hours a day for 4 years straight.
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Mass grave at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields
To understand Cambodians is to understand their history.  Until we learned what happened during the Khmer Rouge, we were surprised to see so few old people.  We now know why.  90% of the population is younger than 50 years old and 50% of the population is younger than 24.  The 'kids' that we thought were hotel and store workers, were actually the owners.  This is what happens when you kill a third of the adult population 40 years ago. 
Monument at the Killing Fields
In Phnom Penh there is a High School that the Khmer Rouge converted in to an 'interrogation' prison that is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, but more easily referred to as S-21 (Security Prison #21).  We thought we would visit it during our Tuk Tuk sightseeing tour.  After all, how many Buddhist Temples can you actually see.

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