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Photographer's Note

This photo was taken at a small stupa located just outside the town of Siem Riep. It's one of the countless small memorials to the victims of the Khmer Rouge. The information stated that the skeletal remains belong to men, women and children, and were collected from a nearby field and a well, along with the tattered remains of their clothing and a few personal effects. I think its name is Wat Thmei (New Wat). Basically, this monument consisted of a plexi-glass structure filled about 4 feet high with bones, which was quite eerie. I remember thinking that the staggering estimates of the numbers of people killed over about 25 years of murder and war-which range from 850,000 to over 3 million-don't mean very much until you're literally face to face with their skulls and they're looking right back at you...

The radical form of Communism imposed by Pol Pot and his followers forced almost all inhabitants to work on collective farms or forced labor projects. The radical program included isolating the country from any foreign influence, and schools, hospitals and factories were closed. Banking and currency were abolished, and the regime even blew up the national bank in Phnom Penh. All private property was confiscated and people were moved from urban areas into the countryside to be worked to death. Workers were required to produce three tons of rice per hectare, although the previous average was only about one ton, so to boost production, people were forced to work twelve hour shifts, often without rest or even food. Select groups such as intellectuals or even those with indications of wealth or education, such as persons with eyeglasses or fillings in their teeth) were executed without mercy. Other individuals arrested, tortured and killed by the government included persons suspected or accused of belonging to any number of categories of "enemies," including anyone connected to the former government or foreign governments, professionals and intellectuals, which comprised almost anyone with an education or who was literate, ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, and religious groups, such as Christians, Muslims and even Buddhist monks, homosexuals, and those thought to be "useless," such as urban dwellers with no agricultural experience or skills. The regime also "outlawed" western medicine, instead relying heavily on traditional peasant healing practices, so life expectancy plummeted. Families were broken up to encourage attachment to the state, as members were often relocated to different parts of the country, never to see each other gain. Minor infractions such as picking wild fruit or berries was seen as private enterprise, and offenders were executed without trial. It was largely removed due to an invasion by Vietnam in 1979, but war continued to rage until the late 90s with Pol Pot's death. The town of Siem Reap remained a KR stronghold until fairly late. Peace was finally (formally) declared in 1996 when the organization was dissolved. As amazing as Cambodia is, with its rich history and tradition, I think it's also important to keep in mind the tragedy that occurred there, so I wanted to include one of these photos along with the many of the incredible temples and ancient structures there...

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 89 W: 78 N: 1007] (1821)
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