At first glance, this is just another tree. A very beautiful tree, one might even say.
Until you hear what it was used for.
This tree was used to smash in the heads of children, and after that they would be tossed in the mass grave beside it.
A beautiful building. On each corner is a Garuda (a kind of bird) and a dragon. They are eternal enemies, and when they appear somewhere together, it means peace.
And this is what’s inside the building.
A courtyard that looks lovely and peaceful. But inside these buildings, people were tortured until they admitted to things they had no idea about.
Another tree. This one was used to put speakers on. For a party? No. To cover the sounds of people screaming while they were being brutally murdered.
This may just look like a traditional offering place, and it is. But if you look at the box behind it, you will see the bones that came up from the grounds years later. Bones of all the people that were murdered and buried at the Killing Fields in Cambodia. During the period when Pol Pot decided he wanted to rule the world with some kind of idea of the perfect species (sounds like someone else we know from the history books?) he killed many Cambodians. They were all tortured and questioned about possible affiliations with spies. Even if they were innocent, they would be killed, because “it is better to kill an innocent, than to let a guilty person live”.
As you can imagine it was quite a shocking day. The things that were done and the stories that were gathered at these memorial sites were unbelievable. Not only were innocent people tortured and killed, also babies and children. They didn’t want to take the risk of them seeking revenge later and made this clear with the saying “it’s better to pick out a weed by its roots”.
The one thing that really stuck with me the most was a quote from one of the survivors. A few people lived because they had skills that the Khmer Rouge needed. There was a mechanic, and a painter, and a few others… So they lived longer than the rest and because liberation came just in time, some of them are still alive today. And one of them said that because of their hobby, or their job, they stayed alive. And now he was reaching out to the world and telling his story, to prevent things like this from happening again, but also to encourage the youth to develop their skills, because one day…
It just might save your life.