Tuol Sleng | Phnom Penh – Cambodia

Tuol  Sleng – a very sobering experience

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum entrance, Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng, Genocide Museum entrance, Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng, Genocide Museum originally a school, taken over by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and used as  torture headquarters. It became known as S21. I felt a great deal of unease as we ventured through the front gate into the grounds of the Tuol  Sleng.

Twelve graves at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Graves

Twelve graves at Tuol  Sleng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Grim  reminders at Tuol Sleng

Grim reminders greet you with the 12 graves where the corpses of the last remaining victims at  Tuol Sleng were laid to rest. When the Vietnam Army arrived in Phnom Penh in 1975 they recovered the twelve bodies. The Khmer Rouge  retreated to the country. The Vietnam Army found only 3 people still alive in Tuol Sleng. These were people who were still useful to the Khmer Rouge for writing up records and photography skills.

Room used to torture victims Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Phnom Penh

Room used to torture victims at Tuol  Sleng

At Tuol  Sleng the rooms are now bare except for a couple of old iron beds used to torture victims on.  A photo in each room is evidence of the horror they endured. The terrible torture victims  of the Khmer Rouge were subjected to,  made  them confess to whatever crimes they were charged with. Routine beatings, electric shocks, hangings, torture with hot metal instruments, suffocation with plastic bags were just some of the means of torture and killings by the Khmer Rouge.

Victim of the horror of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Phnom Penh

Evidence of the horror at Tuol  Sleng, Phnom Penh,Cambodia

Haunting faces, a reminder of the horror at Tuol Sleng

The most haunting thing for me was the thousands of photos taken of the  Cambodian victims at Tuol Sleng, all with a look of such helplessness in their eyes.  Razor wire still encloses the top balconies  of the building. This was to prevent prisoners from jumping to an early death to escape more torture.

Haunting faces of thousands of Cambodian people at Tuol SLENG

Haunting faces of thousands of victims at Tuol Sleng

You have to  wonder how this could have happened, and why it takes so long before any intervention occurs. Records show  that seventeen  thousand people passed through this prison on route to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

Razor wire Tuol SLENG GenicideMuseum, Phnom Penh

Balconies enclosed by razor wire. Tuol Sleng.

Tuol Sleng is a very sobering experience, and if you visit Phnom Penh you should visit this Museum.

From  Tuol  Sleng  we visited the Killing fields outside  Phnom Penh.



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