On June 25th, we visited S-21 Prison in Phenom Penh. Before the Khmer Rouge, S-21 Prison was a school. The Khmer Rouge was mainly formed by Viet Cong and a small number of Cambodians who supported communism. They used this facility as a torture center for people they suspected to be Russian spies or CIA. If the victims said “yes” they would be killed quickly, if they said “no” they tortured them until they said they were and then put them to death. Many victims lied to reserve a quick death. We were told that soldiers in the Khmer Rouge tortured their victims for fun. One method included the removal of finger nails and teeth with pliers. Another method was to whip and hang children, over cauldronsthat held blood, acid, and feces. Women and children were often raped as well.
While there, we met two of the facility’s seven survivors. In the image below, you can see Chum Mey, who had toenails ripped out and a finger broken. The finger never healed properly. The Khmer Rouge also electrocuted him causing him partial deafness in his left ear.
Another survivor we met, Buo Meng, was also put through electrocution causing him to become deaf and mute. He also witnessed his wife get raped and killed. After the Khmer Rouge genocide, they wrote books explaining what they went through in S-21. Meeting theses survivors helped put a face to all the horrible things that occurred in S-21, especially after observing all the toture equipment and images of how they were used. Speaking to the survivors also made everything connect and made it more real.
By Christina and Cherokee
It’s difficult to get one’s head around that kind of brutality. Phew…