Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a former Khmer Rouge prison in Phnom Penh.

Peta Stamper

20 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

It’s name meaning ‘Hill of Poisonous Trees’, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, was a notorious prison under the Khmer Rouge which now houses a museum. The building of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was initially a high school before the Khmer Rouge turned it into Prison S-21.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum history

The Khmer Rouge was a faction of Cambodia’s communist party, led by Pol Pot, which was in power from 1975 to 1979. In only four years, they undertook a campaign of mass genocide in which over two million people perished.

Whilst most victims were taken to the Killing Fields to be murdered, the site of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum also played a central role in the atrocities. Over 17,000 people were taken to Prison S-21, where they were subjected to forced labour and torture.

S-21 was used to hold prisoners before they were to be taken to the Killing Fields, but many died of starvation, disease and torture before they met this fate. The prison was uncovered by the invading Vietnamese in 1979 and was reopened in 1980 as a museum.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum today

Visitors to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum can view the building in a similar state to that as it was after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, with signs of the torture undertaken visible throughout. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum displays a moving exhibit of victims’ photographs – taken as they arrived at the prison – as well as many of their stories. Guided tours can be arranged at the site.

Getting to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

The entrance to the museum is on 113 Street on the corner of 350 in Phnom Penh. The closest bus stop is along route 1 and is Monivong / Road 360 stop 35.

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