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The Khmer Rouge was responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th Century within only 4 year ruling Cambodia. According to the research, there were approximately two to three million Cambodian civilians dead through starvation and violence between 1975 and 1979.
The Killing Fields coined by the survivor Dith Pran, refers to a number of places where prisoners were executed and buried in mass graves. Sources’ inability to agree on the number of the sites and victims carries its own terrible implication that the dead are too many to ever count accurately. To save ammunition, executions were carried out by poisoning, farm implements, and other piercing, bludgeoning, or slashing weapons. Examples of these murderous instruments include sharpened bamboo sticks, knives, bayonets, pickaxes, scythes, and wooden clubs. Children and infants were also not spared, as they might grow up and avenge their parents. The most infamous field is probably Choeung Ek, a former orchard and the resting place for up to 17,000 Cambodians. A visit to Choeung Ek may not inspire terror like the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, but invites a sense of melancholy and an opportunity to reflect.
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Neither location is suitable for the faint of heart, the traumatized, or worst of all, the callously disrespectful. However, they should remain accessible, for the dead to cry as one: “We accuse,” and “Never again”. They are opportunities to educate and prevent such tragedies. Genocide is something most people believe happens to other people in faraway lands. It happened here in the span of four short, bloody years, and it can happen anywhere else.