Ten Pics: A Day To Remember The Darkest of Days

On January 7 we’ll celebrate one of Cambodia’s most important national holidays, Victory Over Genocide Day.  Considering what’s happening in our world right now—countless murders at the hands of leaders in places like Syria—it’s more important than ever to remember and learn from what happened in Cambodia.

The following 10 pictures tell an incredible story.  (Most are from Time Magazine).

1. In January 1975, the Khmer Rouge bombed Phnom Penh.  Later, in April 1975 the Khmer Rouge began its murderous regime. (The United States also bombed Cambodia many times).

2. Some 2,000,000 Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge regime—about a fourth of the country’s population at the time.  This picture is a suspected Khmer Rouge member being held by Lon Nol soldiers.

3. Thousands of Cambodians were tortured in Phnom Penh’s notorious Tuol Sleng Prison.

4.  Around 20,000 people were killed there.

5. Millions more suffered in forced labor camps across the country for four years.

6. On January 7, 1979 Vietnam invaded Cambodia forcing the fall of the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh.
7.  Cambodians fleeing the country faced brutal conditions in Thai refugee camps.  1979 marked the beginning of a long road.  These refugees were pictured on the border trying to get away in 1985.

8.  Countless human remains were discovered in killing fields across the country.  This picture is from 1981.

9.  For decades after 1979 Khmer Rouge holdouts spread violence and killings as they hid in forested areas.  The last Khmer Rouge soldiers didn’t surrender until 1999,  just over ten years ago. 

10.  This was the Victory Over Genocide Day Party I went to in Puok last year.  We’ll be partying again this year for so many reasons. 

Click here to see how classrooms that I teach in today used to be part of a regional torture prison for the Khmer Rouge.  I am surrounded by former killing fields every day.

To see some of my other experiences with this horrible history click here.

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6 Responses to Ten Pics: A Day To Remember The Darkest of Days

  1. Aunt Di says:

    Those are some very disturbing pictures. I cannot imagine the fear and pain of those people. Indeed, freedom is something to celebrate.
    Love you!

  2. Dianna says:

    For some reason the dates that these things happened is what hits me the hardest. I know things like this still are a reality for some parts of the world. While these people were going through this I was an adult and so unaware of what was happening to other people. It makes me think that I need to relate more to world news and what is happening to other people. Thank you for this.

  3. Cathy Davis says:

    Very sobering pictures and reminders of how far the country has come in a very short time. Also, how very lucky we are to live in the US and enjoy the freedoms we have. I hope the day is full of peace and hope for the future. Love you. Kaki

  4. so phim says:

    first piture is the result of american bombing. phnom penh was liberated without a shot being fired

    second picture the cambodians are not khmer rouge but lon nol solders( who were fully supported and backed by america)
    ignorence is bliss

    • Thank you for pointing out my mistake in the picture with the Lon Nol soldiers holding the gun against the head of a suspected Khmer Rouge soldier. I’m sorry about my mistake. And, I am fully aware that the United States was backing Lon Nol.

      However, on the Phnom Penh bombing picture I was correct. I took the information from Time Magazine, a very credible source. Here’s their Caption:

      “Survivors sift through rubble after the Khmer Rouge bombed Phnom Penh, the capital city, on January 1, 1975. Four months later, the party took the city, on April 17, 1975, and began their mission of returning Cambodia to an agrarian society, emptying the cities and forcing their countrymen into agricultural labor.”

      However, I am not ignorant to the fact that the United States dealt a major blow to this country with massive bombing campaigns. I didn’t mean to imply I wasn’t aware of that very big factor in what happened in Cambodia. It makes me feel awful as an American to think about that, but it’s also very important for all of us to know what our country did. However, it’s also important to remember the Khmer Rouge did bombings as well.

      Thank you again for your help! I love Cambodia and that’s why I’ve chosen to live and work here.

  5. so phim says:

    have sent you some more info regarding the pitures

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