Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cambodia: 30 Years After the Genocide:

Cambodia has a special place in my heart. I work there often, shooting stories for my NGO clients and also visit as part of an annual photo tour I lead. So, I always log on to the Phnom Penh Post to see what's up and check on news about the ongoing trial of those responsible for Cambodia's genocide in the mid to late 1970's. Today's news was that prosecutors in the trial of a former Khmer Rouge prison chief asked a U.N.-backed Cambodian court Wednesday to sentence Kaing Guek Eav, known as "Duch", to 40 years in prison for his role in the torture and deaths of thousands of his fellow Cambodians during the communist Khmer Rouge regime's rule from 1975 to 1979.

As part of my photo tour, I visit Toul Sleng Memorial and Choeung ek (the killing fields) and over the years I have shot many images of S-21 prison the skulls at Choeung ek. I keep telling myself I need to put together photo story about it and post it to my website. Perhaps writing that here in my blog will light a fire under my butt to do it. Anyway,  Toul Sleng (S21) prison, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is the site is a former high school which was used as a prison, interrogation and tourture center by the Khmer Rouge regime. Tuol Sleng in Khmer; means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill".

From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 17,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng (some estimates suggest a number as high as 20,000, though the real number is unknown). At any one time, the prison held between 1,000-1,500 prisoners. They were repeatedly tortured and coerced into naming family members and close associates, who were in turn arrested, tortured and killed. 

So, today, with Cambodia's genocide trial in the news, I thought it would be a good idea to make a post and encourage all of you to learn more about Cambodia's dark past. As with Auschwitz and Rwanda...everyone always will never happen again...let's hope it doesn't.

Two final notes, those interested in photojournalism and a photographic record of Cambodian history, I share this.....Last week, while in Bankgok waiting for my flight home, I was perusing a bookstore and saw a new book by Roland Nuveu entitled The Fall of Phnom Penh. The book contains Roland's images of the invasion of Phnom Pehn and I found it fascinating.

And, to see a story I did for Zuma Press, entitled "Cambodia's New Killing Fields" click here
Have a happy Thanksgiving.....and please do take a moment to reflect upon just what that means for us.... in this country we have a lot to be thankful for.

No comments: