Monday, January 15, 2007


Day 5 (2nd Jan 2007) - THE TUOL SLENG PRISON

Today, it will be a grim day. A visit to Tuol Sleng Prison. I bought a book on the Pol Pot Regime and I believe most Malaysians have seen the movie, The Killing Field.

The Prison was a school, hastily converted into a prison. For US$ 3, you will be left dumb-founded to understand how a fellow human can do what even animals will not do. There are stories of children (teenage Khmer Rouge soldiers) killing their own family.

Several thousand of victims (peasants, workers, technicians, engineers, doctors, teachers, students, buddhist monks, ministers, Pol Pot's Cadres, soldiers of all ranks, Cambodian Diplomatic Corps, foreigners, etc) have perished here.

What guilt would a mother with a several month old baby have done to warrant a torturing death sentence, to witness the baby thrown in the air and speared with a bayonet, and later suffered the same fate? Bliss in death for the mother.

What indoctrination can get one to enjoy pulling out the nails of one's fellow mankind with a plier?

As you make your way into this well-preserved prison, an eerie feeling and silence feel the air. There is a sign aptly telling visitors to be quiet. Actually, one need not be reminded. The place itself is not a place of joy. One will find it hard to smile, let alone laugh.

Rows and rows of well-documented black and white pictures of prisoners are displayed. Most showed fear in their faces. All had perished, in pain.

A notice to prisoners, reproduced for visitors to apprehend reads like this :

1. While getting lashes or electrification, you must not cry at all
2. If you disobey any point of my regulations, you shall get either 10 lashes or 5 shocks of electric discharge

3. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting

Rows and rows of handcuffs used to clamp prisoners during torture grip your senses. And your mind will wander to that period of the Pol Pot regime.

Instruments of torture are also visibly displayed, along with photographs and artist's impression of torture.

Photos of human skulls and skeletons hang on the wall. To see the actual, one can visit the Killing Field itself, located about 15kms away. I chose not to.

Lonely Planet said one should visit this place last, on one's travel itinerary. Today however, is my second last day, I'm glad I didn't visit this place on my first day. But, visit you must.

1 comment:

euphoria said...

seen these images on Astro but to actually stand there as witness to historical monstrosities, I dont think I can survive emotionally unscathed.