The darkest hours of Cambodia came at the end of the Cambodian civil war when 1.5 million people were executed in brutal fashion by the Khmer Rouge regime. These executions were held at a number of sites across Cambodia, and these sites are collectively referred to as the ‘Killing Fields’. Out of these killing fields, the one that holds the highest importance is the one at Choeung Ek, where the largest number of people were mercilessly killed and buried in mass graves.
The most distressing part about these executions is the fact that Pol Pot’s soldiers spared no one and that included women and babies. Women were raped and then executed and babies were beaten to death by banging their tender heads against trees. Just seeing the memorial and sites at the Choeung Ek memorial brings tears to the eyes. This has to be one of the worst genocides ever seen by mankind.
This Choeung Ek memorial is situated at about 30 minutes from Phnom Penh city center is a must visit if you wish to get a quick overview of Cambodian history and get an audio tour (in many languages) across the various sites in the memorial. It costs about USD 5 for the entry ticket, but the audio tapes ensure that it offers total value for money. These audio tapes offer great information of the gruesome history that were enacted at these very sites. These audio tours are greatly recommended as else you will not be able to feel the suffering faced by the people under the Pol Pot regime.
Even to this day, one can see the tattered clothes, bones and skulls of those who lost their lives here. The bones have all been preserved and tagged in a stupa like structure that commemorates the victims of this killing field. The number of people buried here is so high that when there re heavy rains, some bones, teeth and clothes of the corpses come up to the surface. A visit here will surely move your soul and the pain of yesteryears will not go un-noticed.