Genocide. The word that makes us shivers. The word that expresses pain and suffering, that nobody should ever allow. We think that nowadays “genocide” is an archaic word. BUT IT’S NOT TRUE. History is fickle. We know that. The good and bad come around and go around, and go around again. Like fashion designers re-use the achievements of the ancestors every few years, so “great” politicians renew a “power gens” in their minds, repeating mistakes of the most famous dictators in the world.
In world history there have been many wars, which has ended in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. In the name of what? Apparently, in the name of a better world. But what does it mean that someone is worse, and someone is better? During the World War II, the Nazis killed not only Jews but also millions of other innocent people, forming concentration camps and ghettos at the behest of Hitler’s, to cleanse the whole Europe of Jewish population. It is estimated that over 6 years, there were 11 million people who died. And no longer than 45 years later, a similar story happened in Cambodia. As the leader of the Communist Party, Pol Pot became a leader of the country in 1975 and he ordered a series of general purges of former government officials, and anyone with an education. The subsequent policies of the Khmer Rouge caused forced relocation of the population from urban centers, torture, mass executions, use of forced labor, malnutrition and disease which led to the deaths of many people. In fact, the Cambodian genocide run by the Khmer Rouge led to the death of around 2 million lives. And those 2 milions were 25% of the country’s population.
Have you recently thought about Syria? It’s been 38 years since the Cambodian genocide and 72 years since Holocaust happened, and the history goes around again. Many innocent people die because politicians and leaders of ethnic groups, involved in the conflict, have no respect to the human’s life. Their attention, however, is focused on the coming to power and the seizure of another piece of land or imposing their opinion, religion and worldview to other people. But how many people must die yet till we finally understand, that it is our duty to protest human’s life? Today I cannot answer that question, but I know one thing, that we should remember all such events and talk about it out loud as a clear disagreement to such politics.
When I was in Cambodia, I could not get past the two most important museums – prison Tuol Sleng, called S-21, and the Killing Fields. Both places are located in the capital, Phnom Penh, and although there is not much of the evidence left and a scale was much smaller than the aforementioned Holocaust, this places are equally important.
Tuol Sleng, interior.
What struck me after the first 5 minutes of a visit in prison is fact, that S-21 was situated in the center of the city. Of course everything was carefully hidden, the loud music had to drown out the screams and strong chemicals had to erode the smell of dead bodies. But I still believe, that all this stuff would not have happened if people didn’t allow this. The aim of Khmer Rouge was to turn Cambodia into a “classless society”, so they prefered to kill anyone who looked like he would not fit the new vision of the country. Secondly, the Cambodian genocide may not have been discovered had it not been for the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979. I also do not want to delve into the methods that have been used for killing, as the fact that people were killing each other is devastating enough. As a warning, there is a monument commemorating the innocent people in the heart of “The Killing Fields” which is made of after parts of the skulls of murdered victims. What’s more there is a strong emphasis in both museums, that this genocide has had actually happened, which made me wonder why would someone not believe that? There’s actually a lot papers about the Cambodian genocide denial. As I also read later, after a loss of power, with a population of several thousand guerrilla soldiers, the Khmer Rouge has won the support of China, Thailand and the United States, which have sought to undermine the position of Vietnam. And when politics is involved, you can be sure that human’s life is underestimated.
The Killing Fields Memorial Museum.
The view behind the fence of The Killing Fields.