On 17th April 1975, the soldiers of the Khmer Rouge arrived in Phnom Penh celebrating their victory

The memorial stupa at the Choeung Ek killing field, 15 km from Phnom Penh. The evacuation of Phnom Penh on the 17th April 1975 marked the beginning of the Khmer Rouge regime, which led by Pol Pot - Brother Number One - and his vision of an agrarian society, would cost the lives of an estimated 3 million Cambodian people, a quarter of the country’s population, through mass executions, disease and starvation.

S21 or the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, in 1976 the regime turned a former high school into a prison for the interrogation, torture and execution of ‘enemies of the state’ 14000 people are know to have entered S21 but only 7 prisoners survived. Pol Pot’s regime targeted a range of people; members of General Lon Nol’s army, educated people (and people that worse glasses were tortured and killed as only those that could read would wear glasses according to the Khmer Rouge), anyone that could speak a second language, monks and teachers. A vast photographic archive and confessions were collected by the guards in order to prove to the Khmer Rouge leaders that their orders had been carried out.  

Rules that all inmates at S21 had to follow. 

14000 prisoners were documented at the S21. Only 7 people survived, with all the others being tortured to death at the prison or the vast majority facing execution at the infamous killing fields. 

Chum Mey, one of the 7 survivors from S21 prison. Chum’s skills as a mechanic kept him alive until the liberation of the prison, as the regime regarded him as of value. Now he spends his time back at S21 telling his story and educating the visitors - an astonishing man. 

The Khmer Rouge  This link tells you more about the regime that lasted between 1975 and 1979 - the content is obviously very upsetting but it provides more details on this infamous event in Cambodia’s recent history. 


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