Horror at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Before 1975, Tuol Sleng was a school – a collection of buildings classroom compound in a walled enclosure. When the Khmer Rouge came to power, they converted to S-21 prison and high place for interrogation, administered by Kaing Guek Eav.


Detentions in prison were held in tiny cabins bricks and detainees were routinely tortured, sometimes over a period of several months. The goal was to obtain “confessions” desired, after that, the victim was still running on the execution field of Choeung Ek, just outside of town. S-21 processed over 17,000 people.

Tuol Sleng is now a museum, a monument and a witness to the madness of the Khmer Rouge regime. Almost everything has been left in the state it was in when the Khmer Rouge abandoned it in January 1979. The prison held some impressive records, leaving thousands of photos of their victims, many of which are exposed. Paintings of torture at the prison are exhibited, performed by Vann Nath, survivor of Toul Sleng.

The atmosphere is horrible. It is even forbidden to smile for the respect of the victims. We don’t want really smile anyway.

At the entrance, there is the prison rules, applied by the guards.


The buildings of the old school are made up of several buildings of three floors each with several pieces (formerly classrooms) with pale blue shutters. Barbed wire and gates closed balconies.


In some parts are old scrap beds which were chained respondents and tortured horribly.


Other pieces welcome signs that trace the history of the prison is the oppression of the Khmer Rouge. It is also difficult to look this paintings  denouncing the methods of torture used.

But there is still worse with photographs of people between life and death, covered in blood and emaciated. The portraits of these women and men show expressionless faces, lost in a world they will soon leave in agony.


At the center of the buildings, several white tombs and some gallows used also as a method of interrogation.


For my part, I cried on the spot and I was sick all the rest of the day. I gave up to continue the visit until the extermination fields 15 km from Phnom Penh.

This place has hurt me in the true sense of the term. But it is a place that must be visited to remember what human are able to do.


Useful information

Located at the corner 113 & 350, the entry costs 3 dollars. The site is open to the public daily from 8 am to 5 pm. Please note that sometimes the entrance office is closed at lunchtime.

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