The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the communist Khmer Rouge regime during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (1970–1975).
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 Cham, Cambodian Christians, and Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution. As a result, Pol Pot is sometimes described as “the Hitler of Cambodia” and “a genocidal tyrant”.
We visited the best-known monument of the Killing Fields in the village of Choeung Ek. Today, it is the site of a Buddhist memorial to the victims. Tuol Sleng has a museum commemorating the genocide. The memorial park at Choeung Ek has been built around the mass graves of many thousands of victims, most of whom were executed after they had been transported from the S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh. The utmost respect is given to the victims of the massacres through signs and tribute sections throughout the park. Many dozens of mass graves are visible above ground, many of which have not been excavated yet.
Beneath our feet, we saw bones and clothing that had come to the surface after heavy rainfalls due to a large number of bodies still buried in shallow mass graves. It is not uncommon to run across the bones or teeth of the victims scattered on the surface as you tour the memorial park. If these are found, visitors are asked to notify a memorial park officer or guide.
Our children (aged 14 and 11 years respectively) came with us to Cambodia and joined us on this visit to the Killing Fields monument. Some other visitors chastised us for exposing our kids to what had happend in Cambodia. Msot respected our decsion to show them the Killing Fields monument. They are now aged 29 and 26 and agree that we did the right thing in taking them to Cambodia and showing them the Killing Fields. I was proud of them at the time for their maturity and delighted that they agree that we were right to expose them to the truth of what had happened in Cambodia.