I feel great sad and sorrow for all victims of this the most cruel, inexcusable and unforgivable human's action, murder of own fellow citizens. There are not exact figures how many were tortured and murdered in the killing fields but it's around 2 million. It's useless ti argue the total figure, better to think those who survived and they many. It's only 30-35 years, so there are a lot of people still around who have lost relatives. Fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. We have to make a promise that we don't forget! We don't forget these and all the other events were those who have understood the power wrongly and we have to promise, we will do everything to prevent similar events in the future. We haven't succeeded, there are all the time actions ongoing, take a map and think, in many places.
This site was high school before, until the Khmer Rouge changed the label from education to genocide. Tuol Sleng means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill". And let's remember, Tuol Sleng was only one of about 150 execution centers in the country and 20,000 prisoners were tortured and killed here.
IT was named Security Prison 21 (S-21) and doctors, academics, teachers, students, soldier, workers monks and all kind of engineer were first arrested, tortured and killed, either here or on some killing field. The museum tells the story, the first rooms on the left side and are as they were when Vietnamese army came and found the place (Photos 1-3). There are a lot of paintings in the next building, I try to find the strength to tell some day, now I can't, you understand my pain from two last photos.
You can test how you would follow the camp rules:
1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
This place is sobering, reflective, but necessary.
This is part of Cambodian recent history, and as such cannot, nor should not be denied.
It happened, it's over, but it should not be pushed under the carpet and forgotton, too many lives were lost for that to happen.
Hard to believe this place was once a high school.
Block c is the only one that has been left virtually untouched with the small cells.
Well worth a visit, please try and see it all.
In the years before 1975, Toul Sleng was a high school in Phnom Penh, but when the Khmer Rouge came to power it was converted into the notorious prison known as S-21. During the Khmer Rouge regime, around 20,000 people were kept in prison here, and tortured to confess their ‘anti-revolutionary’ behaviour. Some died under the torture and were buried in a shallow mass grave on the prison ground, but most prisoners were executed at the Killing Fields (read my other tips). Only 7 inmates survived the Toul Sleng prison…
Toul Sleng is now a museum and a memorial, and many things are left in the state it was when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. You can walk around in the prison cells (the old classrooms) and the courtyard, and see exhibitions of torture instruments and hundreds of photographs of former prisoners. A visit to Toul Sleng is a very depressing experience, but still a must-do in Phnom Penh. It serves as an opportunity to honour the victims and to remember… Remember the terror so that it's not repeated!
We had limited time for the tour so we just dropped by the Toul Sleng to have a glimpse of it.
Toul Sleng was known as the notorious S-21 torture prison of the Khmer Rouge. All the victims (peasants, workers, Khmer diplomats, intellectuals, women, children, etc.) were detained and tortured here and later sent to the Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) for liquidation.
The prison is now a museum to commemorate the death of the Kampuchea people under the Pol Pot regime. Based from (Mok) our tuk-tuk driver, he said that the prison was a former highschool. The compound was surrounded by barb wires, maybe that was done during those times to make sure that the victims can’t escape. Seeing the compound even only on the outside, it didn’t felt good.
Tuol Sleng means " Hill of the Poisonous Trees" in Khmer. This horror museum is located between street 113 & street 350, southwest of the Phnom Penh City Center. It was the local high school named "Tuol Svay Prey. The high school consists of 4 main buildings, block A & B with L shape allocation south of the compound, and block C & D being allocated transparent position A & B north of the compound.
In 1975 the Khmer Rouge took power under the leadership of Pot Pot, Tuol Svay Prey High School had been transformed into a prison called "S-21" or Security Office 21. S-21 was surrounded with a double wall of corrugated irons, and surmounted by electrified barbed wire. The classrooms on the ground and first floor were pierced and divided into individual cells, and second floor used for mass detention. Most of the victims are peasants, workers, technicians, engineers, doctors, students, Buddhist monks, ministers, Pol Pot cadres, solders of all ranks, the Cambodian Diplomatic corps, and even foreigners.
You can check out the instruments of torture & photo of victims in my travelogue page.
During your visit, you can visit building A, B, C & D, and talk to one of the survivors at secretariat of Tuol Sleng Museum. Building A & B exhibit photos of victims. Building C exhibits of former cells, vestige of Pol Pot regime. Building D exhibits on certain aspects of genocide in general under Pol Pot.
The museum comes with a movie room on the 3rd floor building B. The show starts at 10am and 3pm.
The Khmer Rouge History Classroom is held on Building A, 2nd Floor 3rd room. Wednesday class 9am-10am; Friday class 2pm-3pm.
This museum is a must visit in Phnom Penh. It reflects part of the horror history of Cambodian under the dictatorship of Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge between 1975-1979. The locals often tell me that this is a horrible experience as " Cambodians kill Cambodian people"
Opening Hour: 8:00 - 17:00 ( closed during lunch hour 12:00-14:00) everyday.
Admission: US$2 per adult.
It was very sobering walking around the old school seeing the photos of all the people that were imprisoned and murdered, even young children and babies. My god, what did they do to deserve such an end. Imagine the prisoners being shackled together lying on the floor, not allowed to talk or make a toilet run. See the metal beds that were attached to the electric supply to torture the prisoners. See the water tub where they would torture the prisoners more in order to get a confession and last of all observe the list of rules for the prisoners, one in particular - it is forbidden to scream while being punished. What type of people were those that carried out these atrocities. Very sad and sobering, i think i will give it a miss next time.
In 1975,Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security force and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). S-21 has been turned into the Tuol Sleng Museum, which serves as a testament to the crimes of the Khmer Rough.
The Khmer Rough was meticulous in keeping records of their barbarism. Each prisoner who passed through S-21 was photographed, sometimes before and after being tortured. The museum displays include room after room in which such photographs of men, women and children cover the walls from floor to ceiling; virtually all the people pictured were later killed.
Altogether, a visit to Tuol Sleng is a profoundly depressing experience. There is something about the sheer ordinariness of the place that make it even more horrific; the suburban setting, the plain school buildings, the grassy playing area where several children kick around a ball, rusted beds, instruments of torture and wall after wall of harrowing black-and-white portraits conjure up images of humanity at its worst. Tuol Sleng is not for the squeamish.
$2.00 - Open everyday, including holidays, 8AM-5PM - Closed for lunch
We spend more than a hour to understand what had happened in the country, the history. Buy a book at the entrance if you do not have a guide. Do stop at displayed reading materials and the sad story about the victims display. It was a sad history. Underage and older must be told first as the scene are all very horrible.
This former high school became the main torture and interrogation centre for the Khmer Rouge and was the former S-21 Prison for individuals who were against the Angkor regime. Children between 10 and 15 years were selected and trained by the Khmer Rouge to work as guards and subsequently became cruel and disrespectful towards the prisoners. Many different nationalities from all over the country were taken prisoner here as well as their families and there were as many as 5,765 prisoners by 1978. Prisoners were shackled with chains or iron bars and were subjected to a harsh regime with many rules. The museum opened in 1980 after the fall of the Khmer rouge regime and you can see the torture rooms, photos and biographies of some of the prisoners and the cells. It is a place that some may find distressing, but is interesting nevertheless.
In 1975, Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). This soon became the largest centre of detention and torture in the country. Between the years 1975 and 1978, more than 17,000 people held at S-21 were taken to the extermination camp at Choeung Ek.
S-21 has been turned into the Tuol Sleng Museum which serves as a testament to the crime of the Khmer Rouge. It is usually possible to visit any time of day, despite the official opening hours (8am to 11:30am and 2pm to 5:30pm). It costs USD5 to take in a video camera. Admission is USD2.
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