Between 1975 and 1979, Pol Pot’s oppressive regime the Khmer Rouge committed genocide towards their own people. Roughly 1.5-3 million Cambodians were killed reducing the population by 25%. Pol Pot was paranoid that someone was out to get him. His paranoia was so great, he ordered the death of millions of Cambodians. Today, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is an important reminder of the pain and suffering the Cambodian people.
Formerly, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was a prison called S-21. When S-21 was operational, tortures was conducted everyday in order force confessions out of the prisoners. Every single confession was carefully documented to legitimize what comes right after. That is, the execution of the guilty party after confessing to a false crime.
in 1979, the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia defeating the Khmer Rouge. They then discovered the atrocities committed by Pol Pot’s regime. Many grave sites including the Killing Fields was discovered all over Cambodia, with bones of the dead.
The genocide that took place in Cambodia is now being compared to holocaust.
Touring the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Upon arriving in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, I was given an audio “tour guide” to listen to while wandering through former prison. It was similar to the one I got to the Puerto Princesa Underground River in Philippines and knew this was going to be quite an experience.
The audio tour guide definitely made the tour hair-raising. As you walk from room to room in the former S-21 prison, you can hear the speaker talk about his experience surviving the Khmer Rouge. You can feel the trauma and pain as the survivor speaks of the horrors he experienced during Pol Pot’s rule. It was so real that the vivid description of the speaker is as if it’s happening to him right now.
Torture rooms and tools
In order to extract confessions from the Cambodian people, the Khmer Rouge tortured every single prisoner using torture beds or by hanging their body upside down and dipping their head in a pot full of water.
Many Cambodians were horrifically mutilated in some of these torture sessions. However, if an interrogator accidentally kills a prisoner during the torture session, then he will also be tortured and executed.
Originally, the prison S-21 was a school. While exploring the museum, you can still see signs of an old playground in the form of pull up bars. As you tour the entire Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, you will notice how big the place really is. Exploring the entire place will take you at least two hours to complete.
Pol Pot was a madman for killing so many people. If you look at some of the rules he put up, he is the very definition of a paranoid, control freak, murderer of a dictator.
The sheer number of crime they have committed against humanity is hard to forgive. Let’s just hope the Cambodian people will heal from this tragedy.