Phnom Penh, Cambodia



Killing Fields

There are a number of sites in Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge killed many thousands of their victims during their four-year reign of terror from 1975 to 1979. The term "killing fields" was coined by Cambodian journalist Dith Pran after his escape from the country. The most well-known is the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek located about 17 km south of Phnom Penh - 40 minutes by taxi, moto or tuk-tuk.
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The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek is a memorial park built around the mass graves of thousands of victims who were executed here, after they were transported from the S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh. Many of the mass graves are above ground and many have not been excavated yet. There are pits in the area where mass graves were unearthed, with ominous scraps of clothing still to be found here and there. It is a serene yet somber place for any visitor. As millions were killed by the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, you should wear respectable clothing such as long trousers with sleeved shirts or tops as a sign of respect.

Killing Fields of Choeung Ek by Brad Barnes

The site is marked by a Buddhist stupa packed full with over 8,000 human skulls - the sides are made of glass so the visitors can see them up close. A small museum regularly screens a documentary with gruesome video images of human remains that were unearthed when the mass graves were found in 1979. Occasionally, bones and clothing surface can be seen after a heavy rainfall due to the large number of bodies in the shallow graves. If found, you are requested to notify the park officer or guide. Flowers and incense can be bought in front of the stupa.

The stupa by McKay Savage

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