Tag Archives: Khmer Rouge

Travel Diaries: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia

After visiting The Killing Fields, next stop is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It used to be Chao Ponhea Yat High School before it became the  breeding ground of evil during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979. They renamed this place to Security Prison 21 (S-21).

Brace yourselves to see deformed victims of landmines asking for alms as you enter the complex. That is just the start of a depressing journey within the sprawling complex of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

More than three decades have passed since the brutality of the Khmer Rouge but this place cannot mask the desolation and despair these walls have witnessed.

Tips:

This place is not for those with weak hearts and queasy stomachs. But I urge you to toughen yourself up and brave this journey through. It is an experience you’re not likely to forget and regret. Ever.

You can hire a tour guide at the office located near the entrance so you can have a better grasp of the events but we opted to tour on our own.

I can’t remember how much exactly is the entrance fee; I think it’s between US$2.00-3.00. Part of it is for the upkeep of the museum and children’s education.

Upon getting your brochure at the entrance, start your journey to the left as this is where the first building is located.

In front of this building are the gallows and the regulations when a prisoner is brought in for questioning.

Prisoners who are brought in for questioning are photographed and ordered to write an autobiography from childhood until their arrest. There is a part of the museum where photographs are displayed. I was able to control my emotions until I came upon the display of the children’s photographs. That did it in. I was a mess after that.

Once the prisoners are done writing, they will be stripped for inspection and  brought to a cell which tyically looks like this:

Building B houses several brick cells where prisoners use boxes for defecation and ammo bottles for urination.

On the third floor of Building B (I think), you can write a dedication or prayer to the victims and it’s so heartwarming to see unity amidst diversity in language.

Building C is fenced with braided barbed wires so that desperate prisoners cannot commit suicide.

There’s a souvenir shop beside Building C and I got myself a DVD of The Killing Fields movie and a documentary of the Khmer Rouge. The vendor is so pleasant, just like the ones we encountered at the Central Market, that we wanted to buy everything in his store.

For related information, go to:

http://www.tuolslengmuseum.com/Lifeintheprison.htm

http://www.tuolsleng.com/photographs.php

 

 

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Travel Diaries: The Killing Fields, Cambodia

The Killing Fields is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh at the Choeung Ek, Dangkor District.

Tips:

  • The trip to the Killing Fields IS BEST done when coupled with the trip to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It’s just incomplete if you forego either.
  • Hire a tuktuk to take you to the Killing Fields first; let him wait for you; then let him take you to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum next.

The 17-tier Memorial Stupa at Choeung Ek

Looking at the skulls and clothes of those thousands of innocents tortured mindlessly during the Khmer Rouge regime left me teary-eyed. Their barbaric and evil regime from 1975-1979 left approximately 2 million deaths; not only of Cambodians, but other nationalities from Australia, USA, New Zealand and Canada as well who they think poses a threat (because of their education or status) to their twisted, unspeakably evil reign.

These are depictions of how children are brutally treated during the Khmer Rouge regime.

It’s almost unthinkable how these men can be so heartless and downright cold-blooded that they can smash babies onto a tree then throw them like a piece of waste in huge mass graves. And all these brutalities were executed in the name of social engineering; the Khmer Rouge detests the urban and rural elites and so they thought of “cleansing” the system for equality.

Photos of victims are taken at the Tuol Sleng Prison (S-21) and then some of them are brought to the Killing Fields for execution.

 

This mass grave was exhumed and 166 headless victims were found.

Reading on Cambodian history especially their torturous years in the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime left me loving the life that I have now. I could’ve been born in Cambodia that time but I wasn’t and that alone makes me entirely grateful to this life, which may not be great all the time but at least makes me hopeful that there is a shred of goodness in every one.

If you like to read more about Cambodian history, go to this link.

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