Friday, October 02, 2009

The past is always something to remember

Hopeless faces. Cut-throat of prisoners. The classroom with fully-blooded dead body. Ghostly room with steel bed. The quietness of white-painted wall. The past of Tuol Sleng museum is written on the wall. My one day trip in Phnom Penh is a highlight because of Tuol Sleng museum, a used-to-be school building which lately Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) used for interrogating, torturing and killing people who against communism revolution.

It was back to April 17, 1975, the first time when CPK initiated revolution of the government, which formerly led by Sihanouk king, and brought the entire country into sufferings and sadness. Their principle is to build their own country without help from outside and apply communism idealism to revive from its disability. Anyone against, or suspected to be traitor of the government, will be kidnapped and moved to Tuol Sleng, or S21, to be interrogated, tortured and finally brought to Killing Field of Choeung Ek to be executed.

Most of Cambodians, who had been in S21 before, were executed and died in Killing Field.

From 1975 to 1979, more or less 20 thousand of people have died, killed brutally in the killing field. Phnom Penh was once like a ghost city when Cambodians went out from the city after Khmer Rouge propaganda that USA would destroy PP just like Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The mass movement of all its population created famine and disease, whilst people moved out to the village.

No education. No social status. No religion. No religious symbol. No currency. No human rights. Well-educated people were killed because of the threat against the government. No enough food for all people. No right to choose. No right to speak in freedom. No peaceful. What existed was sadness, suffering and cries.

When Vietnamese troops invaded PP in 1979, they found many killed people in S21 and killing field. The city was just like a ghost. That was the time Khmer Rouge surrendered to Vietnamese.

That is the description how depressing the museum is. Very depressing that no one talked loudly or put smile on their face whilst touring around the museum. Since it happened just 30 years ago, the pictures of people just minutes before executed just looked so present. Many more pictures of people died with cut throat, without head, broken face and blooded-body.

If I have only 1 hour in PP, then Tuol Sleng is the best option. It's a story from the past that everybody can learn - that freedom to talk, to choose, to live freely and to choose whatever religion, idealism to believe. It is the highest state of being a human.

Other places to see in PP are Royal Palace, Killing Field of Choeung Ek, Wat Phnom and National Museum. And it's just great to travel around the city with friends: Birthe and Jana from Germany. We ended up the day by having nice dinner at Riverside Bistro resto, which was quite expensive but very nice place. Later on, Puput, CS from Semarang came over to join us.Finished the dinner, I joined Nial, Jess and Micky, local couchsurfers to drink awesomely cheap beers, 50c for a big glass! I got three glasses of awesomeness.

OFF to bed now

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