Our two weeks of touring Cambodia ended with visits to S21 – A former high school turned into a Khmer Rouge prison of horror and torture and finally the Killing Fields.  Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – code named S21 was used as the notorious security prison by the Kymer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. Former prison staff say as many as 30,000 prisoners were held here. Of the 14,000 known to have entered, only 7 survived.  Not only did the Khmer Rouge transcribe the prisoner’s confessions; they also photographed the vast majority of inmates. The photos and confessions were collected to prove to the leaders that their orders had been carried out. Although the most gruesome images to come out of Cambodia were those of the mass graves, the most haunting were the portraits taken at S21.  Our guide was extremely knowledgable about the prison.  In fact, after a while I told him to stop telling me gruesome details and let me just wander around to see the photos and artifacts that were on display.  You could see the clothes that the prisoners left behind, instruments of torture and hundreds of photos of those who were killed.  It was horrifying that people could be so cruel and sadistic.  Their idea was to kill off all the military, intellectuals, educators, administrators, governing officials  and only allow the peasants to survive. I didn’t take many photos of the memorial section.  The guide did mention that the museum was now asking people not to take photos but we could if we wanted as there were very few people there.

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Former high school turned into a prison of horrors.
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Close-up view of prison.
These coffins were some of the last prisoners killed before the downfall of the Khmer Rouge.
These coffins were some of the last prisoners killed before the downfall of the Khmer Rouge.
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Numbers of the cells where the prisoners were held.
Looking from one room to the next.
Looking from one room to the next.
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Inside one of the rooms.
Chains in the wall to hold the prisoners.
Chains in the wall to hold the prisoners.
The cell of one of the few survivors.
The cell of one of the few survivors.
Two monks visiting the upstairs prison level. Most of the monks were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Two monks visiting the upstairs prison level. Most of the monks were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
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One of the survivors. He was selling his book outside at the exit. I had my picture taken with him.

 

 

 

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