Tuol Sleng

There’s a torture prison at the bottom of our street in Phnom Penh. It looks like any one of the many schools we’ve passed; simple three story concrete buildings with stairs at each end and balconies running the length of the upper floors. There is also PE equipment outside.

Torture cell at Tuol Sleng

Except here the frame for the climbing ropes was converted into into an instrument of torture, and the balconies were covered in barbed wire to prevent the prisoners from throwing themselves off. Inside the classrooms brick walls divided the floors into small cells.

Other rooms were left as they were found – a iron frame bed, leg irons – an a photo of the dead occupant as taken when the Vietnamese moved in.

The museum also carried stories of those (few) who had survived the place and of those who worked here. There was also an assessment of a Swedish supporter of the regime who went on a visit during 1978. He reflected on his thoughts then and now.

Up to 20,000 were held and tortured here before being transported to the killing fields. The key display is of hundreds of photographs of victims compiled by the Kymer Rouge as people were admitted to the camp. Poignant rows of notice boards of photos. The exhibition ends with a display of skulls and descriptions of forensic evidence gathered for (any) future trials.

The classrooms were knocked through and then divided into brick cells.

It was interesting that the vast majority of the people visiting were tourists; very few Cambodians.

(c) Tuol Sleng museum

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *