Friday, August 12, 2011

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

After visiting the Killing Fields, we went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Also known as S-21, the museum is located in a converted high school that was used to torture prisoners before they were taken to the Killing Fields to be exterminated by the Khmer Rouge.

At any time, Tuol Sleng contained about 1,500 prisoners that were tortured into confess the crimes they were charged with. Over the 3.5-year rule of the Khmer Rouge, Tuol Sleng saw about 17,000 prisoners. There are seven survivors.

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh


A former classroom that was used to torture prisoners:
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh

The first and second floors were bare rooms with beds, shackles, and other instruments used in torture. Hanging on the walls were photographs of victims that had been tortured just before the Vietnamese liberation of Phnom Penh. The photographs were taken by a Vietnamese combat photographer who found Tuol Sleng.
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh


When the Vietnamese liberated Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, there were 14 prisoners who had recently been killed. Their remains were buried in a small graveyard now located in the middle of the courtyard at S-21.
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh


The gallows. This was playground equipment that was repurposed by the Khmer Rouge for torture.
From K - Saigon and Phnom Penh


The Khmer Rouge were very methodical and took pictures of all the prisoners entering S-21.
From 2011-08-06

From 2011-08-06

From 2011-08-06


This was an incredibly difficult place to visit. As our guidebook said, S-21 is "not for the squeamish". I think it was important to visit a place that such a terrible and recent genocide occurred. Although my visit to Cambodia was short, I saw the high point in the country's history (temples of Angkor...post to come soon) and this marked the low point. The Khmer people are incredibly resilient and I hope that Cambodia continues to be peaceful in the years to come. The country is struggling to grow and modernize, but it is an amazing place with an optimistic future.

No comments:

Post a Comment