For this week’s photo challenge I chose a photo from Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. At one time this used to be a high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. However, during Pol Pot‘s rule, this school was used as a prison to unjustly house some of the citizens of Cambodia. Many would later be tortured and executed. This photo was taken from behind the wire on the second floor of one of the buildings.
The genocide that he oversaw on the people of Cambodia was horrific and yet mostly unknown in the western world because of its overshadowing by the Vietnam war, which happened before it. In all, about 2 million people perished under Pol Pot’s iron and brutal fist. Many of them died at Tuol Sleng.
These people were murdered for being doctors, teachers, nurses, etc… Anyone who did not fit with Pol Pot’s plan to turn the country into a completely agricultural state met their demise.
One of the ladies who took us there was a teenager at the time of the dictatorship. She lost grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters. Basically her entire family. It was difficult to hear her story and see the freshness of that experience in her watery eyes.
I wouldn’t call it a privilege to visit this site of inhumane treatment. Though I do feel a trip to Cambodia isn’t complete without meeting its history head-on in Tuol Sleng. Without knowing Cambodia’s history its difficult to understand its current state. It will also make you appreciate the friendly Khmer people all the more.