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Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre

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A mass grave for victims of one of the worst manifestations of control, paranoia and terror created by the Khmer Rouge, haunting and disturbing Choeung Ek was the preferred execution site for people who had been through Tuol Sleng, the Khmer Rouge’s most notorious detention and interrogation centre.

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At the former school, more than 14,000 men, women and children were kept and tortured until they confessed to “crimes” against the regime which, in the overwhelming majority of cases, they most certainly could not have committed. Once those confessions were extracted, the victims were summarily killed, first at S-21 but then, as the numbers grew and became unmanageable, at this site just 15 kilometres outside Phnom Penh which had once been a Chinese cemetery and orchard. Choeung Ek is but one of thousands of similar sites across Cambodia.

A memorial to the dead. Photo taken in or around Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre, Phnom Penh, Cambodia by Stuart McDonald.

A memorial to the dead. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Prisoners were brought here under cover of darkness, many under the belief that they were being transferred to another location, and to the discomfiting churn of an electricity generator and blood-soaked nationalistic songs, they were lined up and had their heads were smashed in—more cost-effective than bullets. Then they were pitched into a hole. The bones of almost 9,000 human beings have been pulled out of the earth here, and many more remain, which is all the more awful when you look around and realise how very small the site really is.

Bodies must have been piled upon bodies, with nothing but a skin of red soil between them, and it is impossible to really imagine the stench, the flies, the scene as it would have looked under harsh sunlight. But the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre has done an excellent job of painting a picture of what went on ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
To get out here, a tuk tuk will cost about $15.

Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre
Choeung Ek commune, Dangkor, around 15km south of Phnom Penh
Admission: $6 including audio tour

Location map for Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre

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