Tracking The Genocide in Cambodia

Killing Field Cambodia

Under communist regime, Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, the notorious Pol Pot (the Prime Minister of Republic Cambodia/Kampuchea) resulted genocide for approximately 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a population of around 8 million  including disease and starvation. The historical places is now become tourism objects in Phom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

– Tuol Sleng (Genocide Museum)

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in Phnom Penh. This museum formerly was a prison called Security Prison 21 or (S-21). The communist regime changed the Chao Yat Ponhea High School into a prison for those who fight against the Khmer Rouge.

This school was a place for detention and interrogation. The classrooms of the five buildings (which only four buildings A, B, C and D exist today) of the complex became prisons and torture chambers. All windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent prisoners escape.

An estimated 17.000 to 20.000 people were detained at Tuol Sleng. They were repeatedly tortured and forced to name family members and friends, who in turn were arrested, tortured and killed. On arrival at the prison, prisoners were photographed, and must provide detailed autobiographies, beginning with his childhood and ends with his arrest (we can still see the photograph in the museum). Thereafter, they were forced to strip to their underwear and their property was confiscated.

Tuol Sleng Prisoners
The tortured prisoners

The torture system was designed in order to make the prisoners confess. The prisoners were beaten routinely and tortured with electric shocks, burning hot metal instruments and hanging, as well as through the use of multiple devices. Other methods to make the confessions included pulling out the fingernails then pouring alcohol on it, plunging the prisoners’ heads under water, and other torturing technique. Women were sexual abused and children were enslaved.

Tuol Sleng
Tools for torturing the prisoners in Tuol Sleng

These are the security regulation that the prisoner must obey:

1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.

At the first time, corpses of the dead prisoners were buried near the prison. Because there were ran out of burial spaces, the dead bodies were buried to the Choeung Ek extermination centre

– Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (The Killing Field)

This killing field is located 17 kilometers from Phnom Penh. The prisoners were killed by being battered with iron bars, pickaxes, machetes and many other weapons. After the execution, the prisoners were buried in mass graves and each grave contains dozen or hundreds dead bodies.

Today, Choeung Ek becomes a memorial center which is marked by a Buddhist stupa. The stupa is filled with more than 5,000 human skulls, which marked with their ages information before they die.

It is predicted that there were 20,000 grave sites, which contain the remains of 1,386,734 corpes.

How to Get There

You can rent tuk-tuk costs US$13 which will carry you from the airport to Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek. You should prepare US$25 for airport tax when leaving Phnom Penh International Airport. For each museum, you have to pay US$2 for an entry ticket.

Phnom Penh Map
The distance from Phnom Penh International Airport (A), Tuol Sleng (B), Choeung Ek (C) *click to enlarge*

Genocide Pictures Gallery