Monday, February 2, 2009

Cambodia - the Killing Fields

We have just arrived in Cambodia, and while 2 days is not nearly enough to get a sense of the modern country, you don't have to be here long or read too many books before you get a picture of what Cambodians had to suffer 30 years ago.

The poem that follows is by a Cambodian at the Minnesota Correctional Facility where he is serving two life sentences. These simple words document things that were eradicated during the Khmer Rouge Regime and Genocide. 1975 – 1979. Normal lives were thrown into disarray. One third of lives were ended, by the barbarous brutality or cold-hearted starvations tactic of the Khmer Rouge.

If I’d been born, by some twist of fate, on my same birthday but in Cambodia, I would not be here.

The New Regime

No religious rituals
No religious symbols
No fortune tellers
No traditional healers
No paying respect to elders
No social status. No titles

No education. No training.
No school. No learning.
No books. No library.
No science. No technology.
No pens. No paper.

No currency. No bartering
No buying. No selling
No begging. No giving
No purses. No wallets.

No human rights. No liberty.
No courts. No judges.
No laws. No attorneys.

No communications.
No public transport.
No private transportation.
No travelling. No mailing.
No inviting. No visiting.
No faxes. No telephones.

No social gatherings.
No chitchatting.
No jokes. No laughter,
No music. No dancing.

No romance. No flirting.
No fornication. No dating.
No wet dreaming.
No masturbating.
No naked sleepers.
No bathers.
No nakedness in showers.
No love songs. No lover letters.
No affection.

No marrying. No divorcing.
No marital conflicts. No fighting.
No profanity. No cursing.

No shoes. No sandals.
No toothbrushes. No razors.
No combs. No mirrors.
No lotion. No make-up.
No long hair. No braids.
No jewelry.
No soap. No detergent. No shampoo.
No knitting. No embroidering.
No colored clothes, except black.
No styles, except pajamas.
No wine. No palm sap hooch.
No lighters. No cigarettes.
No morning coffee. No afternoon tea.
No snacks. No desserts.
No breakfast (sometimes no dinner).

No mercy. No forgiveness.
No regret. No remorse.
No second chances. No excuses.
No complaints. No grievances.
No help. No favors.
No eyeglasses. No dental treatment.
No vaccines. No medicines.
No hospitals. No doctors.
No disabilities. No social diseases.
No tuberculosis. No leprosy.

No kites. No marbles. No rubber bands.
No cookies. No popsicle. No candy.
No playing. No toys.
No lullabies.
No rest. No vacations.
No holidays. No weekends.
No games. No sports.
No staying up late.
No newspapers.

No radio. No TV.
No drawing. No painting.
No pets. No pictures.
No electricity. No lamp oil.
No clocks. No watches.

No hope. No life.
A third of the people didn’t survive.
The regime died.

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