Visiting a museum with a deadly story
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.