Phenom Penh - Prison & Killing Field



Warning, there's no gory pictures below or anything like that, but it's pretty shocking what happened to Cambodia and very heart wrenching. If you're reading this page to get a laugh like 99% of all the others on my website, this is not the page to look at.

I'm posting this to make people aware of the insane stuff that happened, during MY lifetime.

For the full day we were there we went to check out what the heck happened to this country in the past few decades. Basically, in 1976, the Khmer Rouge came to power, created prisons like in the pictures below where they immediately arrested and executed tens of thousands of former government officials civil servants and soldiers. After that, when the country turned to shit and everyone started starving to death, they started killing hundreds of thousands of people they suspected of being traitors to their regime and blaming the cause of starvation on them. Often people were tortured to death in the prisons to extract "confessions":

Here's an example of one of the rooms where people were chained to the bed and tortured:

Rules for the inmates:

Here's the gallows:

Front of the building. The barbed wire covering the front of the building was put there, not to prevent people escaping, but to prevent them jumping from the top levels to commit suicide:

Entering in to one of the buildings:

An example of the cells where people were kept:

Not exactly a heck of a lot of room in them. There were still blood stains on the floor of a few of them, purposely left there as a reminder:

Fence keeping people in:

What was even more full on, is that our guide was originally an inmate of the prison. The regime was finished before she was killed. Pretty sobering stuff.

After that, it was off to the "Choeung Ek Killing Field" where people were taken after they were murdered or to be murdered:

This building is the "Memorial Stupa". It's packed full of skulls and some of the the clothing of the killed Cambodians. Men, women, children and babies. You really don't know what to do when you're faced with all that death in front of your eyes, it's rather humbling:

As you wander around the Killing Fields, pretty much in silence as it's hard to speak while taking in what you're seeing, there's signs like this around explaining what went on and what you were looking at.

One of the covered mass graves:

When they say "Beat Children" in the sign below, what that means is the soldiers grabbed children and babies by their feet, swung them around and smashed their heads in to this tree to kill them, often with their parents watching before they would kill them too:

Some of the mass graves to the left in this pic. The tree to the right is where loudspeakers were hung to play music to drown out the screams of the people being killed:

More mass graves, dozens and dozens of bodies were found buried in each:

In all, there were around 189 prisons, 380 killing fields and 19,403 mass graves found.

The layout of the killing field:

The only slightly odd thing to see at the killing field was this sign... luckily I left my grenades at home that day:

Unbelievable what went on in Cambodia.


By Tony Baker: email