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Photographer's Note

This is the monument and the grounds of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. I really have mixed emotions about putting up this shot. To me, this is a pretty picture of an obscene place. I am sure many know some of the history here, but I will recap quickly. When the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia (1975-79), many people were put to death (about 2 million as a best guess), and the places they were put to death was at killing fields, which were scattered throughout Cambodia. The most famous Killing Field of all is here, at Choeng Ek. The people put to death here were held prisoner at S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, and brought here to be killed. 17 000 were killed here, and burried in mass graves. The holes you see in the foreground are two small mass graves which have been excavated. There are something like 134 mass graves in total, about 90 of which were excavated, the rest are still full. The building you see is a memorial built to the victims, and it contains the skulls of those whose bodies have been removed. It houses almost 9 000 skulls, as well as some clothing and personal effects.

The very strange thing here is how truly beautiful the area is. It is idyllic farmland, blue skies, etc. Such a contrast to what happened here. S-21, the prison, is in nowhere near as idyllic an area, it is actually in what appears to be a normal neighborhood, and it looks like what it was before it was a prison. It looks like a high school, albeit one with barbed wire, and a total air or depression hanging over it. S-21 is by far and away the most depressing place I have ever visited. Just truly awful. This is awful too, but not so overwhelmingly depressing for some reason.

Sorry for rambling here, this is a hard one to get my emotions around. I guess the biggest thing is that I feel I should apologize for putting up a "pretty picture" of an awful place. I guess I just feel the pictures showing the skulls of the victims have been taken. I took them too, and may even post them. This is just something different. I guess people are hesitant to show the beauty that Pol Pot and his people destroyed.

Thanks for getting through a terribly wordy description.

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Additional Photos by Darren Melrose (Darren) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1470 W: 120 N: 1049] (6823)
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