Genocide is in our history, but are we going to let it be our future?
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
A quote by George Santayana is displayed at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Kraków, Poland. I was lucky enough to visit the site on a university trip last year.
The quote resonated with me today when I visited The Killing Fields in Phom Penh, Cambodia. It's a part of history I didn't know much about in which over a million people were murdered from 1975 to 1979 under the Khmer Rouge which was led by a man named Pol Pot.
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*Sorry for the not so nice photos and an unlike me long post about the most horrific but educational day I’ve ever had* - it’s taken me a few days to process how I feel about this day and I still can’t explain how it made me feel. I visited the killing fields and genocide museum learning about what this country went through just 40 years ago. I stepped in the rooms these innocent people were tortured in, stood on the mass graves they were tossed in and saw the tree they bashed babies head against. I left feeling sick. Yet you walk down the street and the people of this country have forgiven, moved on and are smiling ✨ what a country. #killingfields
Men, women and children, monks, school teachers and professionals were tortured and killed if they were suspected of being a spy and also as a way of cleansing the society. It wasn't until Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979 that the genocide ended. My dad would have been 10 years old.
It shocked me that this had happened so recently and yet I knew very little about it in comparison to the Holocaust. Both were mass genocides in which people were raped, abused and killed, both were kept a secret from the outside world and both led a regime in which they told people that they were going to be relocated to work or to school rather than to their death.
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This is a picture of the killing tree. Soldiers would rip babies away from their mothers, hit their heads against the tree trunk to kill them, then toss them into a nearby pit. • This weekend I visited the killing fields and the s-21 torture prison. These are memorials and historical museums dedicated to the victims of the Khmer Rouge, a mass genocide that took place in Cambodia from 1975-1979. Approximately 2 million people were murdered during this time. I wasn't educated on the horrors that took place all around me, and was shocked and disgusted to learn more about this genocide and see the brutal evidence for myself. I have never experienced such a heavy and dark atmosphere as I did when walking through the rooms of the s-21 torture prison. It was an educational and emotional experience.
However, genocide has been a part of our history throughout time; you could consider genocide in Russia under Stalin and in the U.S. with the Native American people.
And it is being seen again in America, under the rule of President Trump in which people are being rounded up and caged like animals in detention centres. It has been reported that they have not had a shower for over 40 days and people are forced to sleep on concrete floors. Under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, people were locked up in one building with little food and a hose was sprayed in through the window every 2-3 months to shower those that were locked up.
The similarities between genocide in Cambodia during the 1970s and what is happening in 2019 is startling and disconcerting.
Twelve people have already died while in the custody of U.S. Immigration authorities since September.
Are we really so blind that we don't recognise the pattern or are we ignorant enough to believe that we would not let something like this happen again?
After the genocide ended in 1979, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot was still recognised as the government by countries including the United Kingdom and the United States. They still had a seat in the UN and even received financial aid until they disbanded in 1997 with Pol Pot being placed under house arrest and passing away less than a year later. He was never punished for his war crimes and instead lived a nice life with his second wife and grandchildren up until his passing.