Angkar, Angkor

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Feb 17 2013

Tags: ,

Category: Asia, Cambodia


Two similar images, two similar words, but referring to two very different memorable episodes in the history of Cambodia.

Angkar (“the organisation”), being the name the Khmer Rouge used for its own leadership. Between 1975 and 1979, Angkar’s regime of terror caused the death of approximately one quarter of the total population of 8 million people in Cambodia.

Angkor, being the name of the civilization and empire of the Khmer kings who ruled Cambodia from the 9th century to the beginning of the 15th century.

Angkar is Cambodia’s deep trauma, Angkor its ancient pride.

During the coming weeks I will delve a bit deeper into the traumatic experience of the years of horror that befell the people of Cambodia under Angkar.

The left image: view through the rooms for mass detention of S-21, the secret prison of the Khmer Rouge regime which was established in a deserted school building. Schools were closed by Angkar, and teachers and students persecuted. Around 14,000 so called “enemies of the revolution” (men, women and children) passed through S-21 before they were subsequently executed. Only a tiny handful of prisoners survived this gate of death.

The right image: view from the east entrance to the centre of Preah Khan, the ancient royal city of Jayavarman VII, the great Buddhist Khmer king who ruled from 1181 till 1220, and under whose reign a large number of monuments were constructed. Preah Khan also contained a monastery and a teaching centre.

Khmer king Jayavarman VII

Photos of the week:
Left: Former Khmer Rouge’s secret prison S-21, now Genocide Museum Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2000. Right: Preah Khan (end 12th century), with Apsara dance lintel, Angkor / Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2000

2 comments on “Angkar, Angkor”

  1. ja..gruwelijke tegenstelling


  2. Very beautiful concept. You are so brave to delve into the suffering of Cambodia and so great to teach us about its glorious ancient history.


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