S-21 and the Killing Fields Phnom Penh – Cambodia

Tuol Sleng (S21)

It’s pretty hard to write anything meaningful about a place where such awful things happened, but I will ry and write a little, some might want to skip the writing in the post. S-21 was the interrogation centre for the Pol Pot regime where political prisoners and anyone suspected have having an education would be brought and tortured until they confessed and gave names of other people to be questioned. Prior to Pol Pot the buildings were a school and now serve as a grim reminder of the country’s past. People would be judged if they were educated through how worn their hands were, how dark their skin, simple confession from other people and various other means.

Tuol Sleng (S21) Tuol Sleng (S21)

These were the ‘VIP’ rooms where the previous governments’ members would be interrogated in various in-human ways with the pictures on the wall on the left showing the state of the room when journalists finally entered the buildings and found the disc

Tuol Sleng (S21) Tuol Sleng (S21) Tuol Sleng (S21)

After the prisoners were interrogated they were driven to various killing fields around the country, we then drove to visit one of these. The prisoners would be moved in the night blindfolded to avoid detection and loud political propaganda would be payed through speakers to hide their screams. The prisoners would be marched to mass graves were they would be executed with a blunt objects, for they were not ‘worthy’ of bullets. They were piled in into graves and chemicals poured onto the bodies to hide the smell.

The Killing Fields The Killing Fields

Local people leave bangles here for the spirits of the children who were killed against this tree.

The Killing Fields

I had never really been presented with death in such a stark way before. These skulls form part of a shrine to remember the people who were slaughtered here, with fresh bones, teeth and clothes still appearing through the ground when it rains heavily. Many of the bodies have still not been exhumed.

Cambodia seems to be a nation that has suffered so terribly yet there is a sense of hope amongst the people and having been put through the cleansing of the educated, so it is now a real priority for the common person now and many children here speak very good English at a very young age.

It has been hard writing this post, and I hope I have remember what our tour guide told me correctly. It was a very sobering experience, and a warning to all what people in power can do.

Phnom Penh sunrise from a rooftop

Sunrise from the rooftop of the hotel we stayed in looking out over the bay.

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