I am haunted by this place. I wish I had never gone. I wake sometimes in the night and think of some of the things I saw and learnt here. I was aware that as a tourist I only touched on the slightest fragment of the suffering that went on here but the trauma of that knowing is still with me.
It was once a high school in the center of the city. This site became the main torture and interrogation center for the Khmer Rouge and was known as S-21 Prison. From 1976 to 1979, an estimated 20,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng. The exact numbers are unknown. They included anyone and everyone who were against the regime. Prisoners were shackled with chains or iron bars and were subjected to a harsh regime with many rules.
The museum opened in 1980 after the fall of the Khmer rouge regime. We see the torture rooms, photos and biographies of some of the prisoners and the cells.
For some horrific reason the Khmer Rouge deemed it was necessary to photograph each victim before they were killed. Their faces line the walls in the museum and we visualize the shameful, horrific and sad time of the past.