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I visited Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh with some hesitation. It is a must see when visiting Cambodia, but you May need to dedicate Day to feeling gloomy.
Originally a high school, it was transformed into prison S 21 when Pol Pot emptied all the cities and banned education.
The incredible amount of barbed wire seemed almost more like an art installation then barricade. No doubt it was effective keeping prisoners inside.
The long narrow buildings where classrooms had windows on both sides and open air hallways was very similar to the schools I taught in when I lived in Japan. This made the fact that it was a school made prison/torture chamber very real to me.
20,000 people passed through this center. Seven survived due to possessing skills that were needed by Pol Pot.
The first year everyone was murdered on site. But the volume became too difficult. From then after being tortured, documented, and interrogated the prisoners were sent to the killing fields.
Click on the image below to view a short clip of me walking past some photos of the deceased.
it was shocking for me to see this typical looking school transformed into a prison. Click on the image below for a video of the same.
The main level was made into cells using bricks.
The next level was divided into cells by wood construction.
other classrooms were used as is just filling them up with as many people as could fit.
Click on the image below to view another video of me walking around the school.
Lucky prisoners received a shower once a week by being sprayed from the window. One survivor said that he received one shower in three months.
A survivor describes how prisoners were moved when they were too weak to walk themselves.
Imagine the shock and confusion of being taken away from your life with your family and being accused of being KGB or CIA agent when you probably didn’t even know what that was.
Complete insanity ruled.
This structure previously used for high school gymnastics proved useful for torture implementation.
Some descriptions of the torture use
A timeline showing me chronology of Cambodia.
there were testimonies from the survivors and from people who actually worked there.
Click on the image below to play another video of my visit to S 21. By this time I had read a number of personal accounts and the history was becoming very real to me.
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