Travels 232: I broke my heart in the unspeakable horrors of Tuol Sleng (S21)

A former High School nestled inside the perimeters within the city limits of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Tuol Sleng becomes the gruesome prison of many Cambodians during the genocidal years of Pol Pot. For justifiable reasons only exclusively to Pol Pot and his comrades of demented followers, the scenes I have seen broke my heart and reduced me to some of my lowest moments reflecting on how hapless Cambodians were subjected into by their own fellowmen. At the hands of Pol Pot, they converted Tuol Svay Prey High School into the site of shame and horror called Toul Sleng in 1975. Heinous crimes against humanity were done and perpetuated by the followers of Pol Pot on this complex from 1975-1979.

The S21 otherwise known as Security 21 houses more than 10,000 prisoners, who were tortured, murdered on top of their own senseless detention. I came into this complex on Christmas day and what broke my heart is to see the gruesome fear and unspeakable horrors they have felt on the years I was born. I can never understand nor will try to understand why innocent people, educated and middle class Cambodians will have to undergo the tortures and inhumane treatment.

In getting through my own pacing, my Cambodian friend Sandap drop me off at the main entrance and paid the necessary fees, I silently took off. I absorbed every room I see, every empty beds, shreds of clothing, stains and chalkboards as well as silent walls. I kept on telling myself that if only these walls, windows or doors can speak to me, perhaps, I will hear the unspoken cruelty and torture. I saw the photos of those innocent and fearful civilians, I felt their fear and agony.

My journey through the rooms and buildings at Toul Sleng (S21) brought me much pain and an experience that do not give me much comfort but a feeling of spiralling decay and hopelessness. I can only understand why people die but I will refuse to understand why Pol Pot and his evil minions are doing it to their own people. I will never understand it because as I walked through the walls and alleyways, I represent much of a society that respect the universal and fundamental human right of every one and very much come from a civilized society.

Toul Sleng (S21) is a museum one should muster the courage to visit if one wanted to understand the past of Cambodia and how it’s lovely and innocent, peaceful loving people were murdered after a gruesome torture. My journey through its walls remind me that I will oppose anyone or country who unjustly bring genocide on its own people. My journey though broke my heart will forever be one that kept me wholly as a person who despise evil and one who do not and never will condone evils against any people everywhere.

The evil regime of Pol Pot left a huge scar on the people of Cambodia, whom I considered my brothers and sisters. His evil regime is one that replicates no one but Hitler and the despicable and the horrors of Auswitchz.  Their unspeakable torture to children and young women includes rape, for older women and married women, a mutilation of nipples then afterwards scorpions and cobras will feast on the hapless women, for young boys, the picking of nails then a douse of alcohol to instil pain and ultimately, an unspeakable murder.

Categories: Cambodia, Phnom Penh | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Post navigation

15 thoughts on “Travels 232: I broke my heart in the unspeakable horrors of Tuol Sleng (S21)

  1. I saw a documentary about this place on History Channel once, grabe nga…

    • Christian, when you are there absorbing everything it is much worse. Grabe talaga. It was a raw experience for me. Was holding tears when I saw everything. Similarly, all those who visited the prison museum come in silently and came out silently still.

      I can’t just comprehend how it happened the way it did.

  2. Oh no. 😦 This was also on my IT. Planned trip to HCMC- Cambo, how very sad indeed. I don’t know what to say- because nothing can alleviate the pain that they went through.

    • Lauren, grabe talaga. it is an eye-opener of a trip. Most of my Cambodian friends do not come there. Mostly, their parents will not allow them to come and visit the place which explains my friend Sandap just drop me off at the entrance and left me for some errands.

      It was too much for me but something I can learn on and I have indeed learned it raw.

      No words can ever explain how I felt when I was walking through every room

  3. too bad.. 😦 😦 😦 this is the first time i read about this..and it really saddened me.. 😦 😦 😦 thanks for sharing, by the way.

  4. your story brought too much pain in my heart.This journey of yours brings a growing interest in me to visit this place too.

    • It is a journey that brings me back my humanity and respect for human rights is paramount in it. It broke my heart to see and feel how they had been forced to go through.

      Thanks Rome for the comment po. God bless po as always

  5. the place is full of painful memories that is why no Cmabodians ever want to get inside.

    • exactly Ms. Tess. They told me they can never bear the pains and the horrors their fellowmen has to go through hence they never visit the place as I did and worse, on Christmas day pa.

  6. It would be the same for the gas chambers of Germany and the concentration camps as well as the holding places for Filipinos back when Japanese soldiers were here …. every place has a bad history, some worst than others. What matters is ensuring that these never happen again.

    • Tama nga po Kathy and I agree with you. Never again will a repeat of this happen anywhere in the world perhaps in our lifetime though history reminds us time and again that there are worse kind of leaders who will wipe out people at their every whims. This took placed from 1975-1979 howevever, after many years, even in the 1990s, worse atrocities happen in Kosovo, in Rwanda and everywhere.

      Let us be vigilant as always and espouse the functionality of all civil liberties and democracy.

      Thank you for your comment.

  7. Pingback: Travels 233: Prayerful at a Choeung Ek Wat « Journeys and Travels

  8. Pingback: Travels 234: Crying on Christmas day at the Killing Fields in Choeung Ek « Journeys and Travels

  9. Pingback: Cambodia, the all inclusive cheapest holiday « Journeys and Travels

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: