You Must Not Cry At All

One of the first things we did during our visit to Cambodia was to tour the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh.  The site of the museum is a former school that was used by the Khmer Rouge, led by dictator Pol Pot, to imprison, torture and execute their own people from 1976 – 1979.  The Khmer Rouge regime meticulously documented each person held at S-21 (the school was renamed Security Prison 21) through pictures  – leaving a detailed record of the lives that they took. Of the thousands of people who were imprisoned, only 7 survived.

Our guide was a young man of 15 when Pol Pot ordered Phnom Penh to be evacuated. He fled to the countryside and did not return to the city until 1980. He said the city of 2 -3 million people was a ghost town when he returned. It was especially poignant to hear a survivor of the genocide describe the horrors that were committed.

Barbed wires were placed on the front of the buildings to keep the prisoners from committing suicide by jumping off the roof.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about that place. It’s certainly not a typical vacation activity and I would not use the word fun to describe any part of it.  But as my brother-in-law J.D. put it, it is necessary. The museum is a powerful reminder of the evil that human beings are capable of committing against each other.  The damage done to that country is incalculable.

Jail cells constructed in the school classrooms that would house 1-2 prisoners.

One Response to “You Must Not Cry At All”

  1. [...] we were in Phnom Penh we also visited a former Khmer Rouge prison (see a prior post), walked the grounds at the Royal Palace and had a milkshake by the Mekong in the [...]

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