Last weekend was a bit of an odd day. We needed to get out of our district, but didn’t really have anything in mind. Went to the Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung) for a bit of shopping and up to the Sorya Mall and Central Market for more shopping and lunch…
Then back down towards the Russian Market to visit the Tuol Sleng Museum. I have to say this is one of the most depressing places I’ve every visited. It’s actually one half of the ‘misery tour’ which includes the Killing Fields which are outside of town. It’s a $3 entrance fee for the museum which is the actual prison. You can see most of the place and there’s even a movie that plays during the week. One of the survivors is on site to talk to as well. You can take pictures (as you can see). I actually stood in one of the cells. I know the people here in Cambodia are small, but dang… it’s tiny enough to drive you mad. When the prison was finally taken over, all the atrocities were recorded. The Security Prison 21 (S-21) use to be the Chao Ponhea Yat High School until the Khmer Rouge took over in April 1975. Out of an estimated 17,000 people imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, there were only twelve known survivors. In 1979, the prison was uncovered by the invading Vietnamese army. In 1980, the prison was reopened by the government of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea as a historical museum memorializing the actions of the Khmer Rouge regime.
When prisoners were first brought to Tuol Sleng, they were made aware of ten rules that they were to follow during their incarceration. What follows is what is posted today at the Tuol Sleng Museum; the imperfect grammar is a result of faulty translation from the original Khmer:
1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. 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.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
During testimony at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on April 27, 2009, Duch claimed the 10 security regulations were a fabrication of the Vietnamese officials that first set up the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.