S21 Prison and the Cambodian Genocide
Trip Start Feb 22, 2011
51Trip End Ongoing
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Over 17,000 prisoners came through the prison and there were only 7 survivors (3 alive today). These survivors were artists before their capture,and were prisoners at the time of the abandonment of the prison. They were alive because the man who ran the prison wanted a portrait made of himself
Most of the mass graves are out at the Killing Fields (about 16 kilometers south), where these "enemies" of Anka were typically bludgeoned to death to save precious bullets. In total almost 2 million people were killed, men, women, and children. There seems to be not one family that wasn't affected by this horrific event. There is evidence of it as you look around - it seems majority of Cambodian locals are very young and of a newer generation - very few older adults.
We spoke to a hotel concierge who generously and matter-of-factly told us the story of his mother, a teacher, and father being killed, and that he grew up with his aunt in the rural countryside. The Cambodian people culturally don't show a lot of emotion and one wrote "death here is an accepted part of life", but it seems there must be so much more going on under the friendly smiles.
It is shocking, and even more so when you think about how recent it
was. We left understanding what happened, but not understanding why it happened.