Travel Vlog Cambodia Killing Fields and S-21 Prison

Although this video is truly sad, the issue discussed is of great importance. The tragedies that occurred in Cambodia during the era of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge are so severe that they are often neglected. We cannot afford to forget the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge. In order to honor the memories of those killed, we must tell their stories. I don’t recall studying a war as complex as the one that ensued in this part of Southeast Asia during the 1970s and 1980s. I tried to gather as much information as I could about the facts so that I could relay them, and I hope my telling is accurate. I started my day at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields near Phnom Penh. What remains are the mass graves of victims killed between 1975 and 1979. While the site may have been well hidden during that time, there is a great deal of evidence that has been discovered which details the horrors of the dead. Innocent men, women, and children were brutally murdered. The stupa that was erected to commemorate those killed there is filled with 5,000 human skulls; however, Choeung Ek was only one Killing Field among hundreds by which the Khmer Rouge regime executed millions of people. To understand the conflict, I had to dig deeper into the concept of the proxy war. First, a Cambodian Civil War took place from 1968 through 1975 that was part of a larger conflict referred to as the Second Indochina War (1955-1975). Installed in 1970, the Khmer Republic took power with the support of the United States and was heavily militarized. Although, a growing communist sentiment caused the rise of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which led to the fall of the Republic and rise of the Khmer Rouge. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge guerrillas took Phnom Penh and renamed the state as Democratic Kampuchea. This is not only confusing but also ironic because Democratic Kampuchea was also responsible for the genocidal regime that sought to uproot all the foreign influences and create a new agrarian society. International powers including the United States, China, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations all vied for control and their own geopolitical interests. Communist regimes sought to embolden the Khmer Rouge, North Vietnam, and the Vietcong. Meanwhile, democratic powers sought to liberate the country although this was perceived as American imperialism. On top of that, a Cambodian-Vietnamese War ensued between 1975 and 1978, and this was not the first time the Vietnamese had invaded Cambodia and the Khmer people. Throughout this period, Pol Pot, who was the proclaimed head of government, became increasingly paranoid that his own troops were infiltrated by spies sponsored by the CIA, KGB, or Vietnam and began killing his own soldiers. In 1979, Pol Pot was overthrown by Vietnamese forces. The Khmer Rouge supporters were exiled and kept one remaining stronghold near the border of Thailand. In addition, at this time the Soviet economy collapsed and Soviet support for Vietnam waned. In 1991, there was finally a peace agreement known as the Paris Peace Accord. After the United Nation’s transitional government from 1992-1993, elections were held, and the monarchy was restored. Surprisingly, some people who were in power during the era of the Khmer Rouge still have position in the current government. Back in Phnom Penh, I visited S-21 (Security Prison 21) Prison and heard even more atrocious tales. I was honored to meet survivors Chum Mey and Norng Chan Phal. You can research their accounts online and learn more through their books. I hope I have shed some light on this matter, though I know my explanation will not satisfy avid history buffs. I encourage all of you to delve deeper into this period. Thank you for watching.