12 years ago I went to the killing fields and the TS-21 museum in Phnomm Penh. I have been back to Cambodia twice since then without revisiting these sights.
Today I went back.
It's hard to get ones head around the horrors inflicted on men, women and children during Pol Pot's regime. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were imprisoned, tortured and executed during this time. Women were raped, children beaten against trees, men thrown into pits and doused with chemicals that would mask the smell of rotting flesh and finish off anyone that may have still been breathing when they fell with their comrades into the mass graves.
I'm writing this now in an air conditioned bar with free WiFi and 75 cent beers. A privileged white girl. Today I was just another tourist paying the 3 dollar entrance fee to see thousands upon thousands of nameless faces, each one photographed before being raped, beaten, tortured, killed.
It's hard to talk about it all from a place of privilege. It's hard to even think about it. Women not much older than myself, survivors from that time, whose stories are so fucking different from mine purely because of where they were born.
I wonder how my life would be different if, as a small girl, someone came in the night and took my daddy away. If I myself was taken, raped and tortured or my children beaten until death and thrown, naked, into a pit with hundreds of others.
We live, people like me, relatively untouched by the horrors of war. But humanity does not. If you have nothing to be grateful for today, be grateful for the lives of your loved ones.
This is the only photo I took today. Strings of paper cranes. Perhaps they are prayers, I don't know. But I certainly said a prayer.