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Rumble in the Jungle

The killing fields

CAMBODIA | Monday, 12 May 2014 | Views [106] | Scholarship Entry

I woke up last night screaming and thrashing my body, drenched in sweat. Perhaps for a second I felt the smallest fragment of the fear the Khmer people felt during the Khmer Rouge.Today I visited the Tuol Sleng prison and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields. As I walked through Tuol Sleng my stomach was queasy and my heart ached. Photo's covered the walls of child soldiers and inmates. I looked into the eyes of these people. Many of their eyes looked empty, like their souls had long ago departed their bodies. Other photos showed haunted faces, their eyes glazed with terror. Some of the men and women were already dead and the photo's showed their tortured, lifeless bodies. As I continued to walk through the grounds of the prison there were reminders of what these people endured. Equipment used to torture them, their cells and the chains that entrapped them. I was drawn to a photo of a female prisoner with her baby in her arms. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like for a mother. How helpless and afraid she must have felt knowing she could not protect her own child. After leaving Tuol Slend we made our way towards the Choeung Ek killing fields. This is the location where thousands of men, women and children were murdered and thrown into mass graves. One of these graves held the bodies of women, children and babies. Less than a meter away stood ‘the killing tree’. The executors would hold the babies by the ankles and swing their tiny heads against the truck. After the babies’ heads were fractured they were thrown into the mass grave like a piece of trash. I stared at the tree and I wondered how something that was used to cause so much harm could still bare green leaves. As I sit here now I struggle to comprehend how humans can be capable of causing so much pain. Still I am comforted when I look at the Khmer people so warm and kind, their smiles so radiant . I am moved by the resilience of the human spirit and I have faith that in the end the good in humanity will always be a stronger force.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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