Friday, March 13, 2009

Some things I've learned and come to understand while in Cambodia that need to be told:
For those that don't know anything about Cambodia; one of the worst parts of Cambodian history is the reign of the Kmer Rouge from 1975-1979. The Kmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, pushed for communism in Cambodia. Their goals for a Communist Cambodia would not be hindered by anything or anyone. Therefore, millions of people were murdered because of racial ethnicity, religious afilliation, or even job title because they were either seen as hurtful to the communist cause or in the way of forward progress. A rough estimate of those killed ranges from 1.5- 2 million. With approximately 8 million people in the country at that time, that would account for about 25% of the population beeing put to death.
The Photo to the Right was of people put to death in the Toul Slang Prison, which is now a museum to the Cambodian Genocide.

To save on ammunition other methods of killing individuals were used, such as: axes, knives, sharpened bamboo, etc... On many of the skulls, blunt force trauma to the head is evident by large gaping holes. There are many much, much worse than this.

People were burried in mass graves in fields. This is why the term "killing fields"was coined. Some were forced to dig their own grave. The pits in this photo were some of those mass graves. Many of the bodies here have been exhumed, but there are many that still remain underground.

Women and children were not spared. Anyone in the way of the Kmer Rouge was put to death. Many people were tricked into going to their death. They were told the government wanted to give them further education in the city, but when they arrived it was anything but that.

This tree was coined the killing tree. Infants heads were smashed against it before they were thrown into the grave with their mothers. This tree stands next to a grave of women and children. Most of the women were found naked.

What's disturbing and somewhat surprising is many of the bones and clothes which are found are simply left out in the open. Cambodians don't clean up any of their trash, so it should come to no surprise that their dead aren't cleaned up either.

Bones and bone shards can be found littering the ground everywhere. This one I found along one of the small trails between the grave pits. Rain has been a problem at unearthing some of the graves. A dike also had to be built in 2000, because annual floods also unearthed some graves.

People's clothes are still easily found sticking out of the ground. It's a little eerie because in you're head you want to think this happened a long time ago, but it was only 30 years ago. And the effects are still felt among the Kmer People.

Much of the blame is put on Pol Pot and the Kmer Rouge, which it should be. But, what many are reluctant to admit is that this attrocity is a direct result of Buddhism.
In Buddhism, if you're born into poverty or high status that's because of your Karma. So, many here feel that your status in life is deserved, and if you are in a place of authority it is your right and duty to rule those under you. I was recently told a story of a local man who stated that: "There is no eternal benefit for helping the poor. They've gotten what they deserve. Why should anyone help them? Suffering is good." Budda believed that suffering existed in the world because of want and desire. To need or want something is sinful and suffering is not only unavoidable but good for you.
I've heard many say, how could anyone do this to another human being? But, because of their world view it's completely justifiable. Those who were killing children simply believed they were killing off bad seed. In their logic: their parents were bad, therefore they must be bad.
It's very sad to realize the lack of hope. In Buddhism, if a poor man wants to improve his status it will take hundreds of lifetimes (re-birth and death) to even slightly improve his status. What's also disturbing is how the Western media portrays Buddhism. It's not glamorous and there is no mention of the despair and lack of hope.

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