S-21 prison and museum | Cambodia | Tourism | Guide

S-21 prison and museum


I took this picture in 2006. Remember it used to be a school…

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is the memorial as well as a building that testifies the horrific crime of Khmer Rouge Regime. If you are interested in knowing about the S-21 prison and museum, get yourself prepared to witness the remains of cruelty that can be said completely against humanism. It indeed can be among those visits which will be disheartening among all the places in Cambodia. Despite all such things, S-21 prison and museum is the second most popular tourist attractions in Cambodia after Angkor Wat.

The S-21 prison and museum remains open every day, and even during the holidays. If you are interested in knowing about the historical aspect of this place in and out, ist would be good to combine your visit with Killing Fields Choeung Ek.

The S-21 prison and museum is also popularly known as Tuol Sleng Prison. It is the Cambodian Genocide Museum. It was the Public School 21 building under French rule but after prohibition of education by the Khmer Rouge, it turned out to be the confession and torture center for those who were accused of betrayal against Angka, the political organization of the Khmer Rouge. The prisoners who were arrested were subject to the torture which is said to be most inhuman one in the histories. The prisoners were tortured to an extent which compelled them to confess about their wrongdoings. After the prisoner confessed, he was executed and his body was dumped into mass graves which were later known as The Killing Fields which today is the third largest Cambodian tourist attraction.

People were tortured on this pole. Read below.

For the tourists of S-21 prison and museum, the arresting pictures become a haunting experience as well as remains of cruelty in the Khmer regime. It took away more than one million lives during the tenure 1975-1979. Initially, out of 14,000 people who entered the S-21 prison and museum, only seven remained, to describe the tale of cruelty. The Khmer Rouge not just recorded the interrogations of the prisoners, but also created a photographic archive by clicking away the inmates. Later, 6000 S-21 portraits were recovered, each of which described a tale of confusion, defiance and resignation in itself.

This is S-21 in 2011.

Inside, the S-21 prison and museum looks more like a high school that has five buildings, grass courtyard, lawn-bowling pitches and green lawns. In the interrogation rooms, there are only the school table and chair which face towards the bed frame of steel that has shackles at ends. On the wall, you can see the photographs of decomposing and bloated bodies which are chained to those steel beds with pool of blood under it. The S-21 prison and museum was first being discovered by two Vietnamese photojournalists in January 1979. In the other building, tourists can see walls filled with numerous S-21 portraits.

Cells at Tuol Sleng.

One of the only popular survivors out of seven of that time was Vann Nath who painted his experience to reveal the cruelty. His paintings serve as a testament to the worst atrocity of a man towards a man and can be seen as a display in the prison. One of the most difficult things is to see the detailed and organized slaughter that took place. The Khmer Rouge has photographed every inmate and rejected to execute him till he signed the confession. The pictures or the paintings of the S-21 prison and museum will instigate you to ask “why?” These pictures are just a glimpse of certain number of prisoners while there was thousands of other who remained a prey to cruelty of Khmer Rouge.

You will find more pictures of Vann Nath here:  http://www.btinternet.com/~andy.brouwer/vannnath.htm

The S-21 prison and museum will remain a place of interest for all those tourists who are interested in knowing about the worst act of violence against humanity.

If you want to know more, watch this video.

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