5th Stop - Toul Sleng Genocide Museum

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Cambodia  , Phnum Pénh,
Saturday, August 14, 2010


 The return journey from the Killing Fields only took us around 20 minutes and we arrived at the Genocide Museum at 12.20pm. This was mainly because it was already lunch hour and traffic in the rural areas was quite clear.


The Genocide Museum is located at the corner of Street 13 intersecting with Street 350. There was an entrance fee but this was born by my tour guide as it was already included into the package which I had purchased. The fees was USD 2.00 per pax. The opening hours for this place is from 8 am till 5 pm everyday.


Prior to 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school - a set of class room buildings in a walled compound. When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, they converted into the S-21 prison and interrogation facility, administered by Kaing Guek Eav a.k.a. Duch who is currently on trial for his actions at S-21. 


The school walls had also been secured further with barb wires with live electricity running through them. Inmates at the prison were held in tiny brick cubicles and systematically tortured, sometimes over a period of months, to extract the desired 'confessions', after which the victim was inevitably executed at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek just outside the city which I had visited earlier. 


S-21 processed over 17,000 people, less than a score of whom survived. The Tuol Sleng compound now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the madness of the Khmer Rouge regime. Much has been left in the state it was when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. 


The prison kept extensive records, leaving thousands of photos of their victims, many of which are on display. Paintings of torture at the prison by Vann Nath, a survivor of Toul Sleng, are also exhibited. 


The entire environment was sad and gloomy everywhere. There was clear evidence of suffering and torturing in these walls which exhibited the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge regime during that period. 


If we look at the rules and regulations which had been set there, it is painful to even think what these inmates may have gone through during their stay there. Most of these people were in their prime age of around 20 then, if they had survived, would just be reaching their 50's now. 


Once this building had been vacated, many people actually came over to witness the prison and only through the photographs posted there, did they come to know that their loved one or acquaintance had been killed. This episode of time, still stands firm and dark in the hearts of Cambodians today. 


After touring around the place, we left at 1245 to go for lunch at a local Cambodian restaurant not very far from here. 

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