If you are planning to visit Cambodia, you might want to include the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in your itinerary. This museum is not for the faint-hearted, but it is a powerful and sobering reminder of the atrocities that took place under the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979.
Image source: United Nations
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was formerly a high school, but it was converted into a prison and interrogation center by the Khmer Rouge, who renamed it Security Prison 21 (S-21). Here, thousands of people were detained, tortured, and killed for being suspected enemies of the regime. The prisoners included intellectuals, professionals, ethnic minorities, religious groups, foreigners, and even former Khmer Rouge members who fell out of favor.
The museum displays the evidence of the horrific crimes that were committed at S-21, such as photographs of the victims, torture instruments, bloodstained walls, and mass graves. You can also see the cells where the prisoners were kept in cramped and filthy conditions, and the rooms where they were interrogated and tortured. Some of the survivors of S-21 have shared their stories and testimonies at the museum, which are both heartbreaking and inspiring.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is not only a place of mourning, but also a place of education and reconciliation. The museum aims to preserve the memory of the victims and raise awareness of the dangers of totalitarianism and genocide. It also encourages visitors to be messengers of peace and justice, and to respect human rights and dignity.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The admission fee is $5 for foreigners and Free of charge for Cambodians. You can also hire a guide or an audio tour for an additional fee. The museum is located in the heart of Phnom Penh, about 3 km from the Royal Palace. You can easily reach it by tuk-tuk, taxi, or bus.
Image source: viator.com
Visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a harrowing but worthwhile experience that will give you a deeper understanding of Cambodia's history and culture. It will also make you appreciate the resilience and courage of the Cambodian people who have survived and rebuilt their country after decades of war and oppression.
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