I'm not sure about everyone else, I know I'm incredibly naive to most world affairs, but until 6 months ago I had barely heard of Cambodia, I certainly had not heard of its past. When we were staying in Sydney I found a book on the book exchange that was written by a woman who had lived in Cambodia when she was a child. I read this book, 'First They Killed My Father' by Loung Ung and was mortified. As I said I am so naive and I couldn't believe such atrocities could take place. When we arrived in Cambodia I felt very nervous. I could not stop thinking about what I had read those months before. We stayed in a small town in the North, Ban Lung, which was a lovely place. But I couldn't help looking at everyone over the age of 30 and wondering what their story was. While we stayed there, I read it again and made Dave read it also. With it all buzzing around my head we arrived in Phnom Pehn, here it becomes very real. The whole episode is used as a tourist attraction here, for this I do not blame them. As you walk down the street, Tuk Tuk drivers constantly harass you, asking if you want to go to the 'killing fields'. The night we arrived in the city we watched the film 'The Killing Fields', a very glamorised story of an American journalist and his Cambodian friend. Although it was extremely over the top, it gave us a little more of a picture of Pol Pot's, Khmer Rouge. And so we embarked on the genocide tour! (Just for information the dictionary definition of Genocide is the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.) First we went to Toul Sleng, also known as S-21, the top secret prison ran by the Khmer Rouge to torture and eliminate thousands of Cambodian people. It was previously a school, which adds an even more twisted angle to it all. It is now surrounded by barbed and razor wire fencing. The classrooms were divided into tiny individual cells, made from bricks or wooden partions, each measuring around 2 metres by 80 centimetres. Other rooms were left undivided and were used as 'mass' cells, where tens of people were shackled together, lying side by side, less than inches from one another. Prisoners were interrogated and tortured into admitting their involvement in the previous government, their resistance against the Ankhar or to give the names of others to in turn be tortured. They used all kinds of torture techniques, many involving submersion in water and all are now displayed in the prison. A set of rules for the prisoners to adhere to were drawn up and drilled into the inmates. These included 'No 6, Whilst getting lashes or electrification you must not cry out at all'. Punishment for disobedience was more torture. Now the rooms around the prison are filled with photos of all the victims. The pictures were taken in order to report back to Pol Pot. The photos are of all ages, one looked to be less than five years of age. Some photos were of women still with their babies in their arms. The regime did not care, anyone was a potential threat and so too a victim. During the last months of paranoia and fear, the regime began to turn on its own. The walls of the prison have been painted and the floors scrubbed, but the stench of death still remains there. The entire place is horrifying. It lies right in the centre of the city, how it operated so long I just cannot understand. According to records, some 10,000 prisoners 'passed through' S-21, with only seven known survivors. This figure does not even include the estimated 2,000 children killed there. When the regime abandoned Toul Sleng and fled, those to enter first were to discover the last fourteen victims. None could be identified because of the decomposition and disfigurement from the torture. They were able to tell that thirteen were male and one female. All fourteen are now laid to rest in the centre of the prison. Those who survived torture, were then loaded, blindfolded, into trucks and driven 15km South West of the city to Choeung Ek. Here they would be taken to the edge of a large pit where they would be repeatedly bludgeoned to the head with an axe, rock, big stick, anything capable of damage. This saved on ammunition. After excavations in 1980, 8,985 bodies were exhumed, from a total of 86 pits. 43 have been left, untouched. In the centre of the field, stands a large 'Stupa' which holds 8,000 skulls which can be clearly viewed from all directions through glass panels. The whole place is truely hideous. Some describe it as peaceful and calm. Personally I felt quite the opposite there. It made me feel truely awful, angry even and mostly ashamed to be part of the human race. What continues to anger me is that the trials against the architects of the regime began only in march of THIS YEAR! Most of the leaders are now dead, only four remain. Three of which deny the whole thing. The only one to admit to the hideous past was 'Duch', the Chief of security at S-21. Pol Pot himself, lived to a ripe age, only passing away in 1998. He was held under house arrest in Thailand. It was announced that he would be turned over to the international tribunal. That night he died in his bed, heart failure. Requests were made to inspect the body, however it was instead quickly cremated in a known Khmer Zone. He never paid for his crime against humanity.