A very sober and valuable afternoon spent visiting Phnom Sampeau, the site of the ‘Killing Caves’ where thousands of Cambodians were murdered by the Khymer Rouge between 1976-78. The caves are tucked away high up on a hill where it was thought that such brutality would go unnoticed. Cambodians believed to be a threat to the Khymer regime were pushed off the entrance to the caves to an 800m drop to their death.
Today the site is a memorial to the dead, with remains of skulls, bones and clothing preserved as a graphic and necessary reminder of these horrors. In the rainy season new remains are frequently uncovered as the soil shifts and the tourist trail comes to a halt because of the smell of decomposition.
I was very surprised to learn that this history of the Khymer Rouge atrocities is not taught in Cambodian schools. While some may say this is because the memory is too fresh, or too upsetting, the reason is perhaps more likely that many of those in positions of power during the Khymer Rouge’s reign were not brought to trial and are still involved in government today in one way or another.