Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The King will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me." .......Matthew 25

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pol Pot dam

Because we often travel down highway 71 on our way to the villages (which are north-east of 71, bottom right of map), we often visit the dam and the lake behind it. This time because we had occasion to visit Sreynich, we spent a bit more time there.

Very peaceful and rustic. The waters were high because of the rains. Fishermen patiently took theirs turns to cast their nets.

The serenity of the place of course hides the horrors that had gone into the construction of the dam. During the Khmer Rouge era, Pol Pot constructed this dam diverting parts of the Stung Chinit and Stung Tang Krasang tributaries of the Tonle Sap, using an estimated 40,000-100,000 slaves. Many thousands died during the construction of the dam.

The lake behind the dam. On a previous trip 2008.

Today, the dam (sometimes called the January 1 Dam), supposedly provides water to 20,000 hectares of land in Baray and Santuk districts during the rainy season, and to 2,000 hectares during the dry.

Meas San, 58, was one of the thousands who labored under excruciating conditions to build the January 1 Dam. She said six of the 10 people in her work group disappeared within three months. "They were sick. Their bodies were swollen. All of a sudden they disappeared," she recalled. Lon Keam, 60, also worked on the dam, while pregnant. She had so little food, she could not feed her baby, and watching him suffer was unbearable. "My breast milk was not enough," she said. "I wished that my baby would die." Trucks came by night to take people away. "We were just like pigs," she said. "They could kill us at any time." Today, the dam enables Meas San to eke two rice harvests a year out of less than 1 hectare of land. Lon Keam uses the water for her rice, too.
But it is a bitter harvest. "Sometimes I look into the water and I feel hatred of the Khmer Rouge," Meas San said. "They killed my husband, they separated my daughter from me. I was so hungry." Cambodia Daily

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