Tuol Sleng Prison and Choeung Ek Killing Fields

Today I had the most intense experience in my whole life I think. We started the day with the S-21 prison (Tuol Sleng Prison) where the Khmer Rouge captivated, tortured and later executed thousands of people. Of all the people in S-21, only 5 families survived. The prison used to be a school and is now a museum to the horrible genocide of the Khmer Rouge. I have never in my life went to a museum that evoked so strong emotions - I had to go out several time to just take a deep breath, dry my eyes and try to understand how anything like this could ever happen. After an extremely quiet taxi-ride to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek we went around on the fields that used to be the execution site for many of the Khmer Rouge prisons. They have found 129 mass graves on this site and emptied 80-something of these. This means that you still see bones and pieces of cloth in the ground, slowly unearthing as the time passes. You could still see the colors of the cloth, and although they are kind of bleached by 30 years in the earth and now by the sun, you can still see patches of blood and dust on the cloth as well. You also got to see unsettling views like the killing tree that was used to kill the babies of the ones that had been in prison or the mass grave where they found more than 100 bodies without heads. All this to the backdrop of a large white stupa in the middle of the field - filled with 8000 skulls from the victims of the Khmer Rouge.

While walking about in these grounds, both the S-21 and the Killing Fields, you see the life of the Khmer (i.e. the Cambodians) pass by in their everyday doings. In the fields you could hear children playing at a nearby school and see some Khmer trying to feed a cow on the fields just beside the mass graves. That was a very eerie and unsettling experience and I will need some time to just settle down and think about this I think.

I got some great photos during the day, from the S-21 and the killing fields as well. They are really horrible but at the same time interesting. I have a picture of a beautiful little girl playing just outside the fence from the Killing Fields - seemingly ignorant of what was behind those fences and hidden in the ground.

2 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

Hej Anders
Vad kan man säga? Det är ju sant, vad du sett, så det är svårt att säga att jag är ledsen för din nedtryckande upplevelse.

Jag har läst en hel del om historia de senaste veckorna. En trend genom världshistorien är de stora krig och umbäranden som folk återkommande utsatts för, långt innan "brott mot mänskligheten" fanns som begrepp. Just Sverige har varit i fred i tvåhundra år. Västeuropa i övrigt har i stort haft fred i sextio år. När Kambodja blev fritt från det omänskliga lidande du såg, vet jag inte riktigt. Sudan och Nordkorea upplever delvis liknande saker idag.

Jag har bara läst om den typen av händelser men jag förstår om du reagerade starkt. Hur är sådant möjlig? Vad är det för människor som begår sådana brott? Tyvärr tror jag inte de är födda till hänsynslösa monster, likgiltiga inför liv och död. Samma scener har upprepats alltför många gånger genom århundradena. Delar av gamla Persien har ännu inte hämtat sig helt efter Ghingis Khans folkmord på 1200-talet.

Ändå leker barnen på andra sidan staketet. Säger inte det mycket om mänskligheten?

Själv sitter jag i Linköping och programmerar utseendet på några skåpsmodeller.

Jag tänkte mig inte för utan skrev på svenska.
For the English-speakers out there, you just missed out my thoughts on the history of genocide and human nature. There. :)

/Anders P

dathui sa...

I'm going to try some amateurish semi-psychoanalysis here so bear with me :)

I think that most of what enables a person to do these things to another human are these:

degradation: i think most of you would have alot less trouble killing a rat or possibly a dog than a human, if you see the other as nothing more than vermin alot of the angst goes away.

group pressure: these death-squads are just that, squads. If you don't do it the rest of them will probably report to your superior and you will be slowly and horribly executed, or if you'r lucky simply shot. the whole following orders-thing goes here too.

usual behavior: the first times might be difficult but after a while you probably get numb and feel like going to work, kill some of those pesky bastards and then home again.

uppbringing: most of these probably begun doing similar, harsh or things at a young age. I recommend people to see "Blood Diamond", they show one possible way for how child soldiers could be brought to do those horrible things. I think we have a feeling for what's wrong but it's more easily pushed down and if it's pushed down long enough it withers completely.