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A Sorrowful Past: Killing Fields and S-21 Genocide Prison

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The Choeung-Ek Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng S-21 Genocide Museum were the most depressing places we visited during our trip.

Commemorative stupa in Choeung-Ek

First, we headed to the Choeung-Ek Killing Fields, about 45 mins via tuktuk from the city center. This site was full of mass graves and in the center was a large commemmorative stupa to honor the victims of the Pol Pot Regime. At first, victims were killed at the Tuol Sleng Prison but when there were more people than they could kill in one day, victims were sent to Choeng Ek to be killed there, instead.

Victim's skulls

The stupa was filled with human skulls and even the victims' clothes were displayed. Babies were allegedly bashed against a huge tree to kill them.

Clothes from victims

One of the signs in Cheoung-Ek
A museum was erected on the corner of the site, and it contained more information about the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge.

15 kilometers from Cheoung Ek, was the Tuol Sleng S-21 Genocide Prison, the next place we visited. Tuol Sleng was formerly a school, before its classrooms were turned to torture chambers by the Khmer Rouge.

The gallows in Tuol Sleng
Some rooms contained the photos of the last prisoner to die in the room, before the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia and ousted the Khmer Rouge. Rows upon rows of mug shots of the victims were displayed in the museum, and some photos were of children.

A room with prisoner equipment and tools

The various torture equipment used to extract confessions from the prisoners are still left intact. They say the ghosts of the people who died here still haunt the buildings.

Barbed wires prevent inmates from jumping out and killing themselves.
Finally, with heavy thoughts, we returned back to the town proper to visit the National Musem.


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