The global award in photography and sustainability

Mak Remissa

Like other Cambodians, some of my family members died from the killing, starvation, overwork and torture under the Khmer Rouge regime. Most of those who have survived the regime do not wish to recall such painful memories nor do they try to remember, it in order to avoid continues emotional suffering. Therefore, the story of genocidal crime that happened between 1975 and early 1979 in Cambodia have faded away gradually from the people’s mind, like smoke being blown away by the wind. Indeed, we, Cambodians, don’t want such a tragic and painful event to ever happen again in our motherland. That is why, right now, in oder for the next generations to know our history, so that it won’t disappear with the passage of time, it is important to reconcile the victoms with the view of mending their fragile memories and emotional suffering.

“Left 3 Days” is a keyword to recall some memories during my childhood at that time; particularly on 17April 1975 when Khmer Rouge troops took control and occupied the capital city “Phnom Penh”. During that time earsplitting gunfire shots could be heard for miles around the city. For everyshot fired, a shiver would run down my spine. The soldiers clad in black — most are very young of age– were ordering all residents to leave their home for only three days, even patients had to leave the hospital in the city without any clear information. My family hid in our house over a night, hoping the situation may change for the better. However, to our dismay, the capital city that was once so lively and rich with life became a ghost town.

As orderd, everyone was evicted out of the capital city. The only living human beings left are the Khmer Rouge troops that are searching for remaining citizens from house to house. Due to worsening situation, my father decided to leave Phnom Penh the next day. My parents and other family members are tasked to carrying heavy and overburden belongings. We were to head out of the city, along the national road “3”, walking to Angkor Chey district in Kampot province. There, my father’s hometown reside.

Crowds of the city residents walked since dusk to dawn. Some would wander around with no clear destination in mind. If one were to tire, they were not allowed to take a long period of rest for the Khmer Rouge troops are chasing behind them and forcing them to continue onward. Whenever night falls, they would rest by the roadside. Many dead bodies lied on both sides of the road and corpses would float upward in ponds, lakes and water canals. Due to the severe drought and corpses floating in what little water sources that are left, finding drinking water was questionable.
Words alone cannot describe the pain and horror inflicted to the victims but what have been mentioned is just a fracture of the past events and a glimpse into the primary plan of the Khmer Rouge to evict the citizens from Phnom Penh to rural areas.

I wish to dedicate this work as a memorail to my respectful father, grandfather and three uncles as well as all victims, who died in the heinous Khmer Rouge regime.

Mak Remissa