Tourist lure

Vis­it­ing a mu­seum with a deadly story

Mizzima Business Weekly - - IN FOCUS - Aye Chan Khaing

Many peo­ple might know about Tuol Sleng Geno­cide Mu­seum. Th­ese in­ci­dents of crimes against hu­man­ity and geno­cide oc­curred at a high school in Ph­nom Penh, Cam­bo­dia from 1975 to 1979. Dur­ing this pe­riod, Kh­mer Rouge used this build­ing as an in­ter­ro­ga­tion and de­ten­tion cen­tre where about 20,000 peo­ple were ar­rested and in­ter­ro­gated. This build­ing is pop­u­larly known as the ‘Killing Field’ and Se­cu­rity Prison 21 or S 21. Dur­ing their reign, the Kh­mer Rouge au­thor­i­ties ar­rested “sus­pects” and com­mit­ted var­i­ous crimes in th­ese de­ten­tion cen­tres in­clud­ing tor­ture and killing. About 2 mil­lion peo­ple died due to star­va­tion, tor­ture and killing dur­ing their reign of ter­ror.

To­day, the for­mer tor­ture cen­tre is open to tourists. The en­try fees for Tuol Sleng Geno­cide Mu­seum are US$8 for adult and US$6 for chil­dren. The mu­seum opens for pub­lic at 7 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. An au­dio guide is avail­able in six lan­guages in­clud­ing English at the en­trance of the mu­seum. This ser­vice is ex­tra not in­cluded in the en­try fee. This au­dio guide de­vice tells about the mu­seum to the vis­i­tors from sign­post num­ber 1 to 32 through pre-recorded au­dio files stored in the de­vice.

The de­vice ex­plains about the ex­hibits shown in the mu­seum from Build­ing A to the me­mo­rial build­ing for the vic­tims. In the three-story Build­ing A, the iron bed tor­ture cham­ber is shown and the an­guish and pain of the vic­tims still re­ver­ber­ates on th­ese mar­ble slabs as the lin­ger­ing shadow of the dark his­tory in this room. Au­dio the guide de­vice tells about the pho­tos of the vic­tims, their clothes are shown and the back­ground his­tory of some pho­tos is shown here. If you don’t want an au­dio guide, a lo­cal guide is also avail­able for you. In the Build­ing C and D, you can see tiny cells which ac­com­mo­date 11 pris­on­ers in each cell, shack­les, in­stru­ments and de­vices used in tor­ture cham­bers, etc. This is in num­ber 18 in au­dio guide. Many women were ar­rested and rape cases were com­mit­ted against some of th­ese women pris­on­ers dur­ing this pe­riod.

The skulls of some of the vic­tims are shown in this mu­seum and paint­ings are also dis­played there of the tor­ture and ex­e­cu­tions. In this school-turned-prison, many for­eign na­tion­als from dif­fer­ent coun­tries such as Pak­istan, In­dia, Thai­land and Eng­land were also ar­rested and de­tained. The crimes in the dark his­tory were well doc­u­mented and then the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Cham­bers of the Courts of Cam­bo­dia tried dic­ta­tor Pol Pot and his ac­com­plices but only two of the main five ac­cused were put on trial. Pol Pot died be­fore the vic­tims could see jus­tice. Some sur­vivors of this con­cen­tra­tion camp can be seen sell­ing mem­o­ra­bilia at the mu­seum and they can share the story of what hap­pened to them if you wish to lis­ten.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.