Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two sides to every story

A makeshift shrine at Phnom Trung Bat. Photo AP Photo/Heng Sinith. Click to enlarge.
Tomorrow is the International Day of the Disappeared when governments around the globe are encouraged to provide answers to families on the fate and whereabouts of missing persons. None moreso than in Cambodia, where the discovery of an unmarked mass grave recently, created newspaper headlines that have been a constant in the country for the past thirty-odd years. It will never go away. On this occasion, the site is already known, called La Pikhead Phnom Trung Bat, near the village of Dontrey, which was identified by DC-Cam as long ago as 1998 as being a mass burial site of upwards of 35,000 people during the Khmer Rouge era. I visited the site myself in January 2006 whilst I was on a visit to the town of Kralanh and surrounding countryside, looking for ancient temples. It was a pretty desolate place, a large uninhabited area stretching across quite a few acres, little vegetation, no-one living in the area, near the village pagoda, Wat Phnom Trung Bat. It was at the pagoda that I met the group of children in the photo below. Playful, boisterous, without a care in the world and determined to have fun mimicking the barang that appeared out of the blue to play football and pose for photos.
The playful children at Wat Phnom Trung Bat. Click to enlarge.

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