Tuol Sleng - Prisoners, Cambodia
This picture shows two prisoners of Tuol Sleng, sometimes called "S-21", one of the most gruesom prisons the Khmer Rouge operated during their reign in Cambodia (1975-1979).
Tuol Sleng used to be a highschool in a rather affluent suburb of Phnom Penh before the Khmer Rouge decided to turn it into a high security prison and extermination camp.
People were brought here to ascertain their guilt. Upon arrival all were photographed. Innocence was never an option since ideology dictated that "the party is always right". Unfortunately a lot of people didn't realize that and kept insisting that they were innocent until they finally broke under torture, admitted their "guilt" and named "conspirers" who were then torturend and killed as well.
After the interrogators got their "confessions" the prisoners were killed and burried on the so called killing fields "Cheung Ek". 17,000 people were killed this way. When the Vietnamese army arrived in Phom Penh in 1979, they only found seven survivors.
As the picture shows people of all ages were killed in Toul Sleng, even newborn babies whose mothers gave birth while in custody.
Most prisoners were not shot but clubbed to death with rifle-buts or killed with machetes since the Khmer Rouge were short on bullets. The regime never spoke of "killings", btw. Enemies were simply "destroyed", a wording that served to further dehumanize the victims.
More information about the Khmer Rouge Years is available from the Cambodian Genocide Project
Photo by Timo Luege, Munich - GERMANY.