“All the women looked the same. Same haircut and same facial expression. Most of the men had their hands bound so tight behind their backs it looked like they had no arms attached. I was thinking to myself, these pictures were taken when they entered the prison camp. They had no idea what was coming to them following the days of living at that prison. I saw the torture rooms. I saw the images of men on their death bed. I saw paintings by Vann Nath depicting the torture methods. It all seemed so horrible and so sad. It took me until the second building when I started to tear up, but only for a couple minutes. I was able to wipe away my simple tears I cried to continue on through the other buildings.
What happened there was terrible and uncalled for. It’s horrendous that this happened only about 20 to 30 years ago in the country I call my homeland. My parent’s birth place: Cambodia. The people of Cambodia are just starting to overcome this tragedy. And I have to say there is some magic happening in the country now. I still see slums and children begging, but I also see construction and so many entrepreneurs. The country is growing and I can’t imagine what it will be like in 10 years even. Heck, what about 50 years?”
Marnirathanni Thou, 25
St. Paul, Minnesota
Location: Bayon Temple, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Interview by Lauren Imbrock
Photo Credit: Peter Phoeng