Best MonthsAll year
Traveller TypesCouples, Friends
Rank2 out of 103 attractions in Phnom Penh
Places to stay near Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Reviews • 3
After shopping at Russian Market I reachedTuol Sleng Genocide Museum in the afternoon and that afternoon I would never ever forget.The moment you enter you will not feel like a museum, that's because it was formerly a high school, but later was converted into a prison and interrogation centre by the Khmer Rouge communist regime.Make sure to take an audio tour to understand the history of the place.This is the place where an estimated 20,000 people were imprisoned and tortured. It also serves as a memorial to those who died. Prior to this visit, I had very little knowledge about this dark side of the history of Cambodia. I have heard a little bit about the Khmer regime, but they did not make much of an impact on me NOT until I visited this place.Walking inside the Genocide Museum, I saw many paintings on the wall showing victims being tortured. Most of them were awful depictions of the horror and suffering that the victims had to endure. Prisoners were routinely beaten and tortured with electric shocks, hot metal instruments and also hanging. Some of other methods they used were sleep deprivation, starvation, suffocation with plastic bags and heads under water.The cruelty was beyond my understanding! How could any human being do this to another fellow human being? I was so shocked and depressed looking at that. Besides, most of the prisoners were ordinary Cambodians, not criminals and they were tortured simply to extract confessions to crimes they did not commit!The paintings alone had already left a deep impact on me. But as we toured the building, checking out the torture cells, looking at thousands of photos of the victims and reading their stories, I suddenly felt down, very down.Being the first time visitor, you might find place and history very much depressing and traumatic.
History is proof of the fact that humans have often been severely unkind to each other, inflicting on each other the worst pain imaginable for reasons that have not always added up. The Cambodian Genocide, replete with all its barbarism and ruthlessness however, is unfortunately one blank page in history and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum chronicles just that. The former high school was used by the Khmer Rouge regime in order to torture innocent Cambodians and eventually exterminate them in the several 'Killing Fields' spread across the country. This was some sort of an ethnic cleansing, initiated by Pol Pot, reminiscent of the Holocaust during the Second World War. The fact that there were only twelve survivors of the largely underreported genocide (with two still alive and around the museum to meet visitors) is greatly disturbing. The experience will leave a lump in your throat and it is best to have a guide for detailed explanations.
The Museum reminded me a lot of previous visits to places such as the Tunnels in Sarajevo and Dachau in Germany. The museum is full of photos of the regime and exhibits that were used for torture and holding Cambodians against their will.