The Killing Fields


The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979. At least 200,000 people were executed by the Khmer Rouge [Chandler, David. The Killing Fields. At The Digital Archive Of Cambodian Holocaust Survivors. [http://www.cybercambodia.com/dachs/killing/killingfields.html] ] (while estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.4 to 2.2 million out of a population of around 7 million). [Peace Pledge Union Information -- Talking about genocides -- Cambodia 1975 -- [http://www.ppu.org.uk/genocide/g_cambodia1.html the genocide.] ] In 1979 Vietnam invaded the country, which at that time was officially called Democratic Kampuchea, and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Khmer Rouge judicial process, for minor or political crimes, began with a warning from the Angkar, the government of Cambodia under the regime. People receiving more than two warnings were sent for "re-education", which meant near-certain death. People were often encouraged to confess to Angkar their "pre-revolutionary lifestyles and crimes" (which usually included some kind of free-market activity, or having had contact with a foreign source, such as a US missionary, or international relief or government agency, or contact with any foreigner or with the outside world at all), being told that Angkar would forgive them and "wipe the slate clean". This meant being taken away to a place such as Tuol Sleng or Choeung Ek for torture and/or execution.

The executed were buried in mass graves. In order to save ammunition, the executions were often carried out using hammers, axe handles, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. Some victims were required to dig their own graves; their weakness often meant that they were unable to dig very deep. The soldiers who carried out the executions were mostly young men or women from peasant families.

The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Chams (Muslim Cambodians), Cambodian Christians, and the Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution.

The best known monument of the Killing Fields is Choeung Ek. Today, it is the site of a Buddhist memorial to the terror, and Tuol Sleng has a museum commemorating the genocide. A 1984 motion picture, "The Killing Fields", tells the story of Cambodian journalist Dith Pran, played by Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor, and his journey to escape the death camps.

The real-life Dith Pran coined the term 'Killing Fields' during his escape from the regime. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7321560.stm]

ee also

* Cambodia under Pol Pot
* Son Sen
* Ta Mok
* First Indochina War
* Vietnam War (Second Indochina War)
* Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
* Cambodian Civil War
* The Killing Fields (film)
* "First They Killed My Father" by Loung Ung

References

Links

[http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com/ The Killing Fields Museum] - Cambodian museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Killing Fields.
* [http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/ Cambodia Tribunal Monitor]

ee also

* [http://www.tuolsleng.com/ Photographs from S-21] - Photographs from Tuol Sleng (S-21)
*Denise Affonço: "To The End Of Hell: One Woman's Struggle to Survive Cambodia's Khmer Rouge." (With Introduction by Jon Swain.) ISBN 978-0955572951.


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