Ghosts from the past

Ghosts from the past

Cambodia is a country in great development. where foreign investment, mostly Russians and French, have changed the habits and the lifestyle of many people. But, not very far from the tourist beach of Serendipity Sianoukville or the magnificent temples of Angkor, people are living in a desperate way. In particular, the country continues to be littered with landmines, sad legacy of the tragic history experienced in the last 25 years of the last century. The mines were used in mass by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. During these years, their leader Pol Pot was the architect of one of the most radical and bloody revolutions in human history.  About 1.8 million people died in those years, thousands of people were killed in the countryside or in labor camps. Cambodia was liberated by the Vietnamese army and, later in the 80s the same Vietnamese who, using the local forced labor, built a minefield of 700km along the entire border between Cambodia and Thailand . After their retire, more mines were placed by cambodian government to prevent a new invasion and, again, by the Khmer Rouge in order to protect the areas where they had taken refuge, and from which they developed guerrilla actions until the death of Pol Pot took place on April 15 1998.

by Karl Mancini

Cambodia is a country in great development. where foreign investment, mostly Russians and French, have changed the habits and the lifestyle of many people. But, not very far from the tourist beach of Serendipity Sianoukville or the magnificent temples of Angkor, people are living in a desperate way. In particular, the country continues to be littered with landmines, sad legacy of the tragic history experienced in the last 25 years of the last century. The mines were used in mass by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. During these years, their leader Pol Pot was the architect of one of the most radical and bloody revolutions in human history.  About 1.8 million people died in those years, thousands of people were killed in the countryside or in labor camps. Cambodia was liberated by the Vietnamese army and, later in the 80s the same Vietnamese who, using the local forced labor, built a minefield of 700km along the entire border between Cambodia and Thailand . After their retire, more mines were placed by cambodian government to prevent a new invasion and, again, by the Khmer Rouge in order to protect the areas where they had taken refuge, and from which they developed guerrilla actions until the death of Pol Pot took place on April 15 1998.

A tree in the middle of a countryside in the province of Banteay Meanchey. The campaigns are the areas most at risk. Many areas are still littered with unexploded bombs that during the rainy season come out for the softening of the ground causing victims
Lun, 28 years old, works on the railway tracks. His grandfather was killed by the Khmer Rouge and lost his brother due to the explosion of a mine in a field near his home
Interior of a section of the women's ward of an hospital for amputees and landline's victims Various models of prosthetic limbs Lun, 17 years old. After the explosion, he didn’t feel anything. Some minutes later an unbearable pain. He wanted to become a football player
Sok, 15 years old. He lost his left leg running in a field near his village. He’s making the reabilitation in Siem Reap Cambodia is a country that looks towards the future but where the ghosts of the past are still present behind the people
Prum. 16 years old. He just remember the roar of the explosion and the stench of his burning flesh while he watched the sky. He Temporarily lost hearing over both legs. He's a patient of the Siem Reap phisical Reabilitation Center
Arun lost both legs fishing on a river not too distant from Phnom Penh. Alone he reached Chang Mai, Thailand where he try to start a new life Cells built inside the Tuol Sleng school in Phnom Penh. In small were chained up to 5 prisoners, in large even up to 30 all arranged on the ground next to one another
Suos, 9 years old. he wanted to become a train driver. Now he lives near the railway tracks. He’s an Orphan
Chhim, a farmer of 52 years old. He lost his right leg while working in a paddy field near Svay Leu. Many splinters have pierced his stomach and chest. He Cradles the baby of a woman who died following a cardiac arrest due to the explosion of a mine that had mutilated her deadly
Chenda Returns to her home in Kompong Cham by bus. She lost a daughter due to the explosion of a bomb and parents during the civil war
Psar Thmei, the Central Market in Phnom Penh. Torrential tropical rains often cause floods and stagnant water of the sewers spill into the streets
Soam’s Parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge when she was 4 years old and has lost his brother to the explosion of a mine. Thanks to an aunt was saved reaching Thailand. Today she lives in Bangkok and has two children
Mean,17 years old. “the explosion was just a second, after there were only silence”. He's still scared and has a lot of difficult to sleep during the night
Inside of the “Tuol sleng” school in Phnom Penh used by the Khmer Rouge as a prison, a place of torture, murder and often as a step before the final departure of the prisoners to the extermination camps Various models of prosthetic limbs Portrait of En, he lost his right legs on a landmine. now he’s cooperating with a rehabilitation center for mutilated people
Inside the mausoleum built in honor of the victims of the genocide in the extermination camp of Choeung Ek thousands of human skulls found in mass graves are gathered here grouped by way of execution. Infact, through the type of fracture of the skull has been possible to ascertain whether the prisoners were killed with a hoe, awl, ax, or other sharp objects
Tevy gives food and make some birds fly. She lost her little brother by the explosion of a landmine in the campaign
Mliss (flower), 12 years old. She played with her sister while she walked on a mine and died. She lost one foot
Prosthetic replacement in wood of an hand of a child Pich, 18. He lost a leg and spleen due to the explosion of a bomb that killed his best friend Period Photo of some prisoners. They never came home Rain season in Phnom Penh Reflections in a puddle of water formed as a result of frequent rains The Cambodian flag waves on a sunny day in the extermination camps of Choeung Ek Various models of prosthetic limbs Portraits of Kolab, she desired to die for many years after her lost of one leg. Now she’s cooperating with an association for land demining and last year she had a baby Portraits of Jiut, 19 years old from Banteay Srei. After her phisical ehabilitation she’s working on demining minelands. Sot observes the mausoleum of the extermination camps of Choeng Ek in which are kept the skulls of thousands of people killed and thrown into mass graves. Sot family was exterminated by the Khmer Rouge, he now works at the site maintenance Outside of the building C of the “Tuol sleng” school in Phnom Penh used by the Khmer Rouge as a prison, a place of torture, murder and often as a step before the final departure of the prisoners to the extermination camps Interior of one of the torture chambers of the school Tuol Sleng of Phnom Penh used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge. Inside was found the body of a murdered prisoner abandoned. On the day of liberation were found only 16 bodies (now buried in the garden of the school) of the last prisoners killed before escaping from the capital of the Khmer Rouge
129 Mass graves were founded in the extermination camps of Choeung Ek. 43 are  still underground and the bodies of the victims undiscovered Orphaned children in the streets are just one of the great plagues of Cambodia. Often beg and become a simple target of the landmines in the campaigns. Mural on the wall outside of the physical rehabilitation center of Siem Reap Thong lost a foot due to the explosion of a landmine while playing soccer with friends. Works in a supermarket in Battambang where often his little brother comes to visit him. Workers engaged in the construction of a new road. In most of the cambodian territory there are no paved roads. Before build new roads it's necessary to proceed demining of the areas where the risk of explosion is high orphanage near Sisophon. Many of these children have lost family members due to the outbreak of the mines or to the civil war A paddy field planted dangerously at the edge of a mined area in the province of Battambang A visitor pass next to a portrait of pol pot inside the museum of genocide Prum is employed in a fast food restaurant in the capital. He lost a sister because of the outbreak of a bomb while in his brother's leg was amputated. Work to keep it this together with the unemployed mother The Tree of the extermination camps against which the Khmer Rouge banging to death the heads of babies or small children prisoners by taking them for the legs. The Khmer Rouge killed especially at night time, keeping at high volume popular songs in order to nor hear the screams of the victims from the few remaining inhabitants of the surrounding areas
Portraits of Pich, 18 years old. He lost his right leg for the explosion of a bomb that killed his best friend. Now he sells soft drinks dreaming to go to Europe one day Inside the demining training center founded by Aki Ra, a former Khmer Rouge who defected and started alone at the beginning a work of demining in the north-west part of Cambodia
Landmines Inside the rehabilitation center of Siem Reap Riverside Quay, Phnom Penh. Here, close to the waters of the Tonle Sap river, almost everyday many young boys use to play football in the late afternoon