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Published: June 13th 2006
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Tuol Sleng is not a fun or necessarily enjoyable day out. It's an old school which under Pol Pot's regime was turned into an interrogation centre and prison. 10,499 adults and numberable children were bought through this place, estimates put the true number closer to 20,000. 7 people survived.
The museum has grim exhibits. One building contained 14 dead and tortured victims when the Vietnamese took hold. Save for cleaning the cells remain the same as the day they were found, and though the victims are buried photos of them the day they were found adorn the walls. Another building houses wall upon wall of photographs of the victims of S21. Many men, women and children. Even a large number of babies. Another exhibit is piled with human remains, another has horrific artwork showing the suffering of the inmates. Another chilling display has instruments of torture. At times you wonder if the stains on the walls and the floors are dirt. Some claim it is still the blood remaining since the place was in active use. Arms Tourism
Ak47? M16? How about a B40 Rocket launcher? 'I never planned to end up here' I thought
as I read down the menu of boys toys/killing machines available at a 'not military', but clearly military establishment on the way to Choeung Ek. "If you pay rocket launcher, we go tomorrow, and give you free taxi" the man informs me, but at $200 a shot i'm not sure I really want to. Plus there is a rumour that the targets for the bigger guns tend to be rather more bovine than the paper target I'm standing infront of. I decide that since I'm here I'll go for the AK47, and managed a tight grouping, albeit all outside of the actual target! Only in Cambodia with its dubious gun laws. Oh yeah, and the USA.
p.s. To anyone who wants to comment on the 'taste' of the above: Everyones entitled to their own view, but I'll only post yours if you justify it. The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
With almost 20,000 people passing through S21 there had to be a place for them to go, and Choeung Ek was that place. Perhaps the most famous of the Killing fields it is home to 129 mass graves, 86 of which were exhumed and were found to contain
8,955 bodies. AS you wander around the site there is little to suggest what went on - it seems like a series of craters. But look closely at the ground and you see fragments of bone and scraps of clothing. And if you think about what those craters are... There is a tall memorial stupa which has been erected. It contains 8,000 skulls which are arranged on shelves stretching from floor to ceiling. When all is said and done I wouldn't really recommend a visit though. The caves near Battambang and the Genocide Museum are far more powerful and much more memorable.
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