Tuol Sleng Prison Museum

Nidhi Jakhodia
After having an early breakfast, I left the hotel at 8am and hired a tuktuk to take me to Tuol Sleng Museum and Killing Fields. Killing Fields are located 15km from city centre. Tuktuks charge around USD15 for taking you from central Phnom Penh to Killing Fields, waiting there and coming back. The tuktuk driver agreed to include Tuol Sleng Museum, which is on the way, for the same price.Museum entry fee is USD 2, and another USD 6 for a guide. I decided to do the museum on my own and was able to manage well based on the narrations provided. Tuol Sleng was originally a school converted into Pol Pot's secret prison during his rule from 1975-1979. Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge after taking control of Cambodia in 1975, emptied all cities (including Phnom Penh) within four days and forced the entire population to work in labour camps in countryside. People from nearby camps were brought to Tuol Sleng to be tortured, confess to their supposed crimes and finally sent to Killing Fields to be executed. It is estimated that around 11000-14000 people including 2000 children imprisoned in Tuol Sleng were executed. Inside different rooms of the building, you will see gruesome pictures and outside a few graves of the people who were imprisoned there.Interestingly there is an account of how a Swedish Delegation, in 1978, had visited Cambodia during Pol Pot's rule and basis the doctored version of what they were shown, the delegation gave a glowing account of Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea. They rubbished the horrific tales being told by Cambodian refugees. When Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979 (Cambodians refer to it is 'liberation day'), 7 adult and 4 child survivors were found in Tuol Sleng.