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Thread: Tuol Sleng

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    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Tuol Sleng

    Toul Sleng (S-21) the school turned Khmer Rouge prison.

    To be honest, there was little there that is new to anyone who has read about this place or seen the documentaries, but it was still worth a trip.

    The most amazing thing are some of the photographs. They are an amazing study of people, people who didn't know why they were there, people who knew what was going to happen....the photographer of many of them was a 16 year old boy (when he started) having been sent on a photography course in China.

    There's not a great deal to photograh there, mainly just empty rooms with a few beds and the 'cells that were built in one of the buildings.

    The introduction board at the front gate.



    These were the torture rooms, there were 14 corpses left behind when the prison was evacuated in these rooms.







    The cell block where they knocked through the whole length of the building and created cells approx 3 foot wide by 8 feet long.


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    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    The one building has a face covered in barbed wire to stop the inmates taking their own lives.





    An 'enemy' of the Revolution.



    The 'gallows' used to suspend people unside down with their head in the water pots. Designed to wake them up for more interrogation.




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    Classy joint.

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    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    These are supposedlly the rules of the prison. In his ongoing trial the head of the prison Duch has claimed that these rules were actually made up by the Vietnamese liberators. True or not, I doubt the real rules were much different.



    Most of the people in these pictures were Vietnamese. Not only Cambodians died here, there were many Vietnamese, a few Thais and several Westerners.



    The shackles used to keep the prisoners that slept in the large dormitories in check.







    Not an original photograph by me, nor an original idea of using the colorisation, but i took this photo of a photo whilst there and wanted to do it this way anyway.



    The brick cells.




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    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    The most amazing thing are some of the photographs. They are an amazing study of people, people who didn't know why they were there, people who knew what was going to happen....
    That's one of the two abiding memories I have from my visit there. And actually of all the pictures that I saw (and tried to look at each of them) there's one that sticks in my mind above all others and that was one of a middle-aged chap, probably the only person from all of them smiling.

    Unfortunately the other abiding memory is off being pissed off at some young Brit tourists who were walking around with their shirts off, drinking beer, and generally being obnoxious and loud cnuts.

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    Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Good shots of a sad and depressing place. When I worked in Aranyaprathet twenty years ago, every Cambodian who worked in my office, without exception, had lost most or all of their immediate family members to the KR. A sad piece of history.

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    Thailand Expat The Muffinman's Avatar
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    Ghastly place,

    Couldn't bring myself to visit it last month when I was in PP, will definately go see it next time I'm in town though.

    Thanks for the photo's.

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    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Muffinman View Post
    Ghastly place,

    Couldn't bring myself to visit it last month when I was in PP, will definately go see it next time I'm in town though.

    Thanks for the photo's.
    Mate of mine that was there with me at the same time walked out, couldn't handle it.

    Not that I blame him though, it's a pretty harrowing experience.

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    Thailand Expat The Muffinman's Avatar
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    I was only in PP for 2 full days, and knew perfectly well that a visit to Tuol Sleng would fuck one of those right up.

    Next time I intend to spend a bit more time there and bring myself to visit it.

  10. #10
    Banned for deleting Gallery
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    Good pics, went there 10 years ago, quite upsetting.

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    ^since then they have removed the skull 'map' of Cambodia (quite literally a map of Cambodia on the wall made from human skulls) which was the last exhibit as you left the place. That was truly awful. I have been several times over the last 15 years, it hasn't changed much and it still gives me the chills. Thank fuck they removed that skull map though.

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    I hope they never tear the place down, it should be maintained as a remembrance of the horrors the people imprisoned there suffered and a reminder of how wrong an entire nation can get.

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    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Anyone else seen the documentary S-21?

    It reunites (if that's the word) two surviving prisoners (one of whom is the painter who painted the pictures seen in the museum) and some former guards including the photographer.

    It's very interesting to see the lack of real remorse shown by the former guards.

    The painter though is magnificent, and man of great dignity.

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    as always great pictures mate, certainly much better than the ones of took of the same place.

    I just finished reading (on the plane last night) Paul Theoroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and he spends almost a chapter talking about this place.

    Part of his commentary includes his opinion that the museum and so on is cover for the current government to pat themselves on the backs and say "We aint that bad" ....

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    Member Don Juan's Avatar
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    Grim read.

    Horrific to imagine what's gone on there.

    Why is the sign in English? I wouldn't have thought the Cambodians would be able to read it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson View Post
    Mate of mine that was there with me at the same time walked out, couldn't handle it.
    I also could not handle the place. Went with 3 friends, and I had to go out and leave them too it. Thoroughly, thoroughly depressing place, that just felt evil.

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    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly
    Part of his commentary includes his opinion that the museum and so on is cover for the current government to pat themselves on the backs and say "We aint that bad"
    I'm not sure I'd disagree with that.....



    Quote Originally Posted by Don Juan
    Why is the sign in English? I wouldn't have thought the Cambodians would be able to read it.
    I only photographed the english versions, certainly half the visitors whilst i was there were young Cambodians.

    Lest They Forget.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
    Grim read.

    Horrific to imagine what's gone on there.

    Why is the sign in English? I wouldn't have thought the Cambodians would be able to read it.
    The actual signs used at the time were in Khmer. The English versions were put in place when the place was turned into a museum.

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    Two of the westerners that were killed were American drug smugglers. They were sailing a boat loaded with Thai Hash out of Thailand when they accidentally strayed into Cambodian waters. They were picked up by a Khmer Rouge gunboat and sent to Tuol Sleng where they were killed. One of them had signed a confession no doubt under torture that he was part of the SE Asian CIA.
    When the men disappeared nobody had any idea what had happened to them. It was only when the Khmer Rouge were overthrown by the Vietnamese and Tuol Sleng discovered that there details were discovered. The Khmer Rouge like the Nazis were meticulous with their record keeping.

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    Ain't they related to the Isaan lot ??....only a line on a map seperates them basically

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    pol pot

    Pol Pot went to school in Paris, got his idea from the West! yes I saw the museum about 4 years ago, always reminds me how lucky we are to grow up as we did, Post war UK and Oz.

  22. #22
    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Became a Communist in the West yes, Got his ideas for torture and purges from the Chinese.

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    I was there earlier this year, its a very harrowing experience. If you do visit, I recommend taking a guide, not really to show you round the place, because I felt I had seen a lot and knew quite a bit about S21 (i.e. from message boards like this one, the various TV documentaries, web research when planning my trip, etc.), but more for getting an insight to their personal experience of the Pol Pol regime.

    My guide was 8 when the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh, she recalls how excited she and her family were at the time. That only lasted a few days, then she, her two older sisters (both under 12), her mother and aunty tried to get out of Phnom Penh. They headed towards the Vietnam border and after about 3 weeks, they were captured, she saw her two sisters and her aunty raped, tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge 'boy soldiers'. She also talked about her father, who she knew was killed, but she does not know where or when this happened. It was then that I began to realise how awful this whole Pol Pot thing was and started to get an appreciation just how terrible things were. I then relayed some of this to my moto-taxi driver (who took me to the 'Killing Fields' earlier), he had similar tales of the brutality he had experience first hand as an 11 year old.

    I went to S21 as a tourist, armed with my camera and took about a 100 photos, similar to the great shots above, but I left feeling extremely sad, numb, helpless and very angry that the Rest of the World allowed this to happen in the way it did.

  24. #24
    សុខសប្បាយ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcock
    The painter though is magnificent, and man of great dignity.
    His name is Vann Nath. One of only nine survivors from Toul Sleng.

    Vann Nath

    If you are interested in the Cambodian genocide please do read Surviving the Killing Fields: A Cambodian Odyssey by Haing S. Ngor. He played Dith Pran in the movie 'The Killing Fields' but his own story I dare say is more terrifying and fascinating than the character he won an Oscar for portraying.

    Surviving the Killing Fields: Cambodian Odyssey: Amazon.co.uk: Haing S. Ngor, Roger Warner: Books
    Mortals you defy the Gods, I sentence you to travel among unknown stars, until you find the Kingdom of Hades, your bodies will stay as lifeless as stone.

  25. #25
    សុខសប្បាយ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fybo
    helpless and very angry that the Rest of the World allowed this to happen in the way it did
    Not only that, but after the genocide was uncovered by the Vietnamese and Cambodia liberated, the US continually pushed for the Khmer Rouge to be recognised as the official government of Cambodia in the UN, while Pol Pot enjoyed immunity and protection, most notably in Thailand, where he stayed under protection with a Thai Special Forces unit in Trat province for many years.

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