Tuol Sleng is a former high school that was renamed by the KhmerRouge in 1976 and used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (known as S-21) to torture, interrogate and execute political prisoners, making it a place where people go in but never come out.
The majority of the victims of Tuol Sleng were former Khmer Rouge cadres, who were blamed for Cambodia's woes. Thus the leadership sent them to S-21 to extract forced confessions, only seven prisoners were found alive till the day the Vietnamese army liberated Phnom Penh in early 1979. Thousands of these confession files survive to this day, giving us a grim look at the barbaric atrocities that happened inside Tuol Sleng, which ironically means 'Hill of the Poison Tree' in English.
Visiting TuolSleng could be a depressing experience. It is left what it was, a truly high school of five buildings facing a lawn with pull-up bars. The museum displaysrooms with thousands of black and white portraits of executed men, women andchildren over the walls from ceiling to floor. Several foreigners fromAustralia, the USA and France were held here before killed. On average therewere 100 victims a day during the first part of 1977. Other rooms contain onlya rusting iron bedframe, a photograph beneath it follows that it was used tomutilate prisoner's body. There are also paintings by former inmate show howpeople were exactly tormented in this horrific place. History buffs would love to check out this 22-Day Best of Southeast Asiaincluding a visit to S-21.
Though Tuol Slengmay not fit the squeamish, it's a landmark of Phnom Penh worth a visit. Or you could choose touring the Royal Palace, National Museum, Wat Phnom and Russian Market, the most popular attractions for visitors.