Residing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This museum is located on a former high school which the Khmer Rouge transformed into “Security Prison 21” (S-21) from 1975 to 1979. Tuol Sleng means “Hill of the Poisonous Trees” or “Strychnine Hill”.
It’s estimated that 17,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng and at any one time, the prison held between 1,000-1,500 prisoners. Of the 17,000 people imprisoned at Toul Sleng, there were only twelve known survivors. It was a place of imprisonment, torture and death.
Today it’s a museum with prison cells, barbed wire, bars and chains. The buildings have been left as they were when the Khmer Rouge fled and some prison cells contain photographs depicting dead prisoners, showing the room as it was found.
There are rooms with hundreds of photographs of the faces of prisoners. It is all quite somber and depressing. Other rooms contain exhibitions, stories and photographs about genocide, the prison guards and the survivors. It is a quiet place as each person wanders from cell to cell and looks into the terrified faces of the men, women and children who died at S21.
Whilst it is a place that is hard to visit, I recommend that you go if you get the chance. The museum provides some insight into the atrocities and horrors that the Cambodian people experienced only 40 years ago at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.
More images can be view in our Landscape and Travel Portfolio.
For more information, visit wikipedia: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.