Between 1975 and 1979 in Cambodia the the Khmer Rouge converted the Chao Ponhea Yat High School into the infamous Security Prison 21 (S-21). An estimated 17,000 people were tortured and killed here. There were only 12 known survivors; three are alive today, and I had the honor to meet two of them in the museum in 2014. In total, between 1.7 and 3.2 million people (21% of the population) were killed by the Pol Pot regime.
The regime kept extensive records, photographing each prisoner. Several rooms of the museum display floor to ceiling black and white photographs of some of the prisoners who were detained here. Other rooms show implements of torture, shackles, beds, and waterboarding, and some of the original barb wire is still in place.
Choeung Ek, approximately 11 miles outside of Phnom Penh is the best known of the sites known as the “Killing Fields”, where the Khmer Rouge executed over one million people. One hundred twenty-nine mass graves containing 8,895 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. Many of the dead were former political prisoners who were kept by the Khmer Rouge in Tuol Sleng (S-21).
This video presentation shows the museum preserving the site as a memorial and a warning to future generations of the horror of this time.