Remembrance of the Past

Tuol Sleng Prison stands as a monument of the unspoken horrors and tragedies of the Khmer Rouge. The broken and corroding walls of the once high school convey a strong lesson, displaying an event that seeks to never occur again. With pictures of the victims on the wall and torture tools in clear sight, it is not difficult to feel uncomfortable in the heavy atmosphere the prison creates. The heavily damaged buildings serve as a symbol for the years of hardship and abuse Cambodia has endured. The multi-story buildings are wrapped in multiple layers of barbed wire as the cells inside are made of crudely stacked bricks containing hundreds of prisoners.

Barbed wire at Tuol Sleng prison

Barbed wire at Tuol Sleng prison

Before the Khmer Rouge Tuol Sleng Prison was a high school in Phnom Phen. During the revolution the school went under heavy renovations to be converted into a torture and interrogation center. After the Rouge had ended, the damage had been done. Only seven survivors were found and taken from the prison as the rest had been executed in the killing fields. Our group had a rare opportunity to meet one of the remaining survivors and talk to him about the nightmare he endured. Although he made it through the Khmer Rouge he still carries the scars, as he has broken fingers and visible marks on his skin. Hearing about his story, he warned about awareness of the future to not repeat the past, and continues to stay in Cambodia to preach his message to those whom he meets.

About Derek Russell

Derek Russell is a seventeen year old junior at Mira Costa High school. He works in video and music production. He currently is enrolled in Cinematic Arts 2.

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