Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum ( S-21 )

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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The Gallows
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. Tuol Sleng in Khmer means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees".

From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 17,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng.  Most of them were detained for between a few weeks or a few months, routinely tortured, then taken to the Choeung Ek extermination centre where they were killed and buried in mass graves.

The rules by which they had to abide, in common with much else in Khmer Rouge policy, were arbitrary. Punishment was severe. A sign which still remains in the prison today reads:
1. You must answer accordingly to my question.
Prisoner 401
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 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.
The museum today remains much as it was when the Khmer Rouge were driven out in 1979.  There is an extensive document and photo exhibition charting the history and brutality of the institution and you can still walk through the makeshift cells in which the prisoners were housed.
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The Gallows
The Gallows
Prisoner 401
Prisoner 401
Entrance to museum
Entrance to museum
Some of those who died during tort…
Some of those who died during tor…
Detention wing
Detention wing
Torture device in which the victim…
Torture device in which the victi…
Cells
Cells
A prisoner
A prisoner
Remains of a victim as found by th…
Remains of a victim as found by t…
Prison rules
Prison rules
List of Khmer Rouge mass graves
List of Khmer Rouge mass graves
Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk