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.