Inside The Khmer Rouge Killing Prison S-21 in 2013.

                                Photography & Words by Michael Klinkhamer.

The historic pictures on permanent display at the former prison S-21 in Phnom Penh are a small but very powerful testimonial of the horror inflicted on humans by the Khmer Rouge. Today the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh is a holocaust museum. It draws millions of tourist a year into its sinister walls. Inside S-21, 15.000 people where imprisoned and tortured for a confession and killed at a nearby Killing Field. Personally it took some time for me to fully understand the scope of what I did see here. By meeting some of the visiting S-21 travelers from all over the world and taking their photos against the same walls of horror, time is actually fading away. The same sort of youth full eyes and hopes for a good life, look back at us with a sense of knowing. From the Khmer rouge military photographer Nhme Enh, who took the images of the arrested and soon to be tortured and killed Khmer people at S-21, to these international young travelers of today. It is only a matter of 35 years. The message is clear; beware of your leaders and governments, for this can happen again, to you.
Brother #1. Pol Pot.

The extremism of the Khmer Rouge regime was perhaps its most unique aspect. It is doubtful that any revolution has ever pushed so hard, so fast, with such disastrous consequences. There were, however, other aspects of the regime that distinguished it from other superficially similar movements. Note that the totalitarianism of the Khmer Rouge differed from the model presented in Orwell's 1984 in one very significant aspect: Khmer Rouge totalitarianism was anonymous. In Orwell's Oceania, the image of Big Brother was omnipresent: Big Brother's face stared out from posters on every street corner. In Cambodia, however, the omnipotent power -- Angkar was faceless and nameless. The term -- translated literally as -- "the organization" -- carried a flexibility that added to its effectiveness. Angkar, was simultaneously "the Communist Party of Kampuchea, its Standing Committee, as well as the state security apparatus, represented in every social cell of Khmer Rouge society." Its ambiguity was "the supreme psychological weapon these terrorists used to hold an entire population in a state of fear and abject submission."

Nadia, 29 years from the U.S. "There are no words to express, Everybody at that time seemed to be psychological shattered."

S-21 prisoner. I of 15.000.
Paul from Holland, 29 years: "it's impressive and impossible to imagine the human suffering that went on here."
Ashley, 24 years from South Africa: "We have a lot of violence where i live, but this is all new to me. Quite a shock really."
Michael, 27 years from Germany: It is is a very sad place, but it is real. I see a relation with Nazi germany, it makes me feel sad."
Wilson, 31 years from Malaysia." It's a warning for the future. You have to learn from history. not to trust leaders. Democracy is very important to me."

Henry, 25 years from China: "very shocking what I see here. I can't imagine what they did."
Sean, 31 years from Israel: "There is some evil in everybody. I just depends what you do with it".

Interrogation room+wire bed for electrocution torture.
Painting by Vann Nath, a S-21 survivor.

Cell block at S-21. In this cells survivor Chum Mey was locked up.
Painting on display at S-21, by artist Vann Nath a survivor of S-21.
The Killing fields 1.7 million people died of starvation and excecutions between 1974-1979 under the KR-regime.


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