Travelling to Cambodia with its amazing 11th century temple complexes of Angkor Wat its pretty well impossible not to take into account too the horrors of the 1970’s and its ‘Year Zero’ political dogma introduced by it’s ruthless leader Pol Pot.
Therefore its hard not to want to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in its capital Phomn Penh once called Security Prison S-21. There are arguments that this is purely ‘Dark Tourism’ or a desire to visit places of this nature like Auschwitz for example. Seeing and experiences such places to me makes a world of difference, to be in a tiny rough built cell, the medieval leg irons, a toilet box is not gloating its understanding. You can put yourself in that position and perhaps only partly imagine what millions went through, yes I had read about it but being there tells a whole different story one I will never forget!
I had no qualms about my visit from a moral point of view if anything it enhanced my understanding of how one person with a twisted ideology can wreak so much human misery.
If you did not agree in the slightest way with the brutal Maoist communist philosophy or were a lawyer, teacher or even from the cities the chances are its leader Pol Pot a former teacher himself would have you put in S-21 or other similar prisons.
The former Tuol Svay Prey High School a place of education was turned euphemistically into a ‘re-education’ centre or Cambodia’s most notorious torture chamber. There was no education here, it was a conveyer belt of pure torture. The people who did not die as a direct action of its highly indoctrinated prison staff then they were taken to the infamous killing fields 15 kilometres outside of the city, it was very much one way only, very few lived to tell what had a happened there.
The evening transport would show up collect anywhere between 6 to 30 prisoners and then off the city limits where they would double check the names of those ‘must smashed’ prisoners that was desired by Pol Pot and they literally were smashed to death with clubs, tools, cart axles or stabbed and killed in anyway to save the cost of bullets.
Men, and more shockingly women, children and babies were taken to have their heads caved-in too. If the Khmer Rouge thought you were from the wrong part of society and if you passed through such places as S-21 alive then death would follow without fail in the rural rice fields of Cambodia…
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