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Cambodia, Khmer Rouge, S-21 : The Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979, in which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (21% of the country's population), was one of the worst human tragedies of the last century. The Khmer Rouge, headed by Pol Pot, combined extremist ideology, ethnic animosity, and a disregard for human life to produce murder on a massive scale.

I took the photographs at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The site is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979.  

I visited S-21 on  multiple occasions.  It is a macabre memorial to mass murder.  When I walked through the buildings, I could feel the pain.  The eyes of the victims tell the story.  It was an emotionally moving experience for me.   My rendition of the photographs tell the story.  

Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, the five buildings of the complex were converted in August 1975, four months after the Khmer Rouge won the civil war, into a prison and interrogation center. The Khmer Rouge renamed the complex "Security Prison 21" (S-21) and construction began to adapt the prison to the inmates: the buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes.


From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 17,000 people were imprisoned at the prison. At any one time, the prison held between 1,000-1,500 prisoners. They were repeatedly tortured and coerced into naming family members and close associates, who were in turn arrested, tortured and killed. In the early months of S-21's existence, most of the victims were from the previous Lon Nol regime and included soldiers, government officials, as well as academics, doctors, teachers, students, factory workers, monks, engineers, etc. Later, the party leadership's paranoia turned on its own ranks and purges throughout the country saw thousands of party activists and their families brought to Tuol Sleng and liquidated. Those arrested included some of the highest ranking communist politicians such as Khoy Thoun, Vorn Vet and Hu Nim. Although the official reason for their arrest was "espionage," these men may have been viewed by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot as potential leaders of a coup against him. Prisoners' families were often brought en masse to be interrogated and later murdered at the Choeung Ek extermination centre.

Even though the vast majority of the victims were Cambodian, foreigners were also imprisoned, including Vietnamese, Laotians, Indians, Pakistanis, Britons, Americans, New Zealanders and Australians.

Most non-Cambodians had been evacuated or expelled from the country and those who remained were seen as a security risk. A number of Western prisoners passed through S-21 between April 1976 and December 1978. 

In 1979, the prison was uncovered by the invading Vietnamese army. In 1980, the prison was reopened as a historical museum memorializing the actions of the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Khmer Rouge perpetrators have yet to pay for the crimes they committed...

Cambodia, Khmer Rouge, S-21

Emmanuel

The Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979, in which approximately 1.7 millio ...

Updated: Aug 13, 2013 9:12pm PST

Angkor Wat 2011 :

Angkor Wat 2011

wicked

Updated: Nov 23, 2012 5:06pm PST

Spitler School Opening Ceremonies 2011 : Please enjoy these photos of the opening ceremonies for the 2011-2012 school year.

Spitler School Opening Ceremonies 2011

dannypam

Please enjoy these photos of the opening ceremonies for the 2011-2012 ...

Updated: Oct 08, 2011 1:59pm PST

Spitler School Report - September 2011 : Please enjoy these photos of recent events at Spitler School

Spitler School Report - September 2011

dannypam

Please enjoy these photos of recent events at Spitler School

Updated: Sep 24, 2011 2:35pm PST

Documentary of Security 21 (S21) : Warning- pictures are graphic. This is dedicated to the lost but not forgotten souls of S21. This building used to be a high school turned to an interrogation, holding cell and torture place during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979

Documentary of Security 21 (S21)

viewfynder14

Warning- pictures are graphic. This is dedicated to the lost but not f ...

Updated: Aug 27, 2011 8:32pm PST

Phnom Phen Royal Palace & National Museum : The Royal Palace and National Museum stand beside each other, it is the home of the throne.

Phnom Phen Royal Palace & National Mu...

viewfynder14

The Royal Palace and National Museum stand beside each other, it is th ...

Updated: Aug 27, 2011 8:15pm PST

Ankor Wat : Ankor Wat is on Cambodia's currency bills. It is very easy and a delight to photograph. Some of the photos I took here on mid-day and still came out very interesting

Ankor Wat

viewfynder14

Ankor Wat is on Cambodia's currency bills. It is very easy and a delig ...

Updated: Aug 25, 2011 10:29pm PST

Fried Tarantula and Crispy Roach : Local cuisine of gastro adventure. The legs were crispy but I cannot say it tasted like chicken!

Fried Tarantula and Crispy Roach

viewfynder14

Local cuisine of gastro adventure. The legs were crispy but I cannot s ...

Updated: Aug 24, 2011 9:21pm PST

Ta Prohm & Bakhen : Ta Prohm is the most photogenic temple in Ankor. Trees grow in the ruins and merge with the forest. The character of the temple made it the location for Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider movie. This is my favorite temple of all. I liked the galleries and the little dark, mossed halls. Bakhen is the famous spot for viewing the sunset over Ankor.

Ta Prohm & Bakhen

viewfynder14

Ta Prohm is the most photogenic temple in Ankor. Trees grow in the rui ...

Updated: Aug 24, 2011 8:06pm PST

Siem Reap : These were taken on third day in Cambodia. I hired my own private guide to take me in the outskirts of Ankor Wat.

Siem Reap

viewfynder14

These were taken on third day in Cambodia. I hired my own private guid ...

Updated: Aug 22, 2011 8:52pm PST

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