Friday, November 23, 2012

Portraits at Tuol Sleng

The only thing these photographs have in common is that they were taken at the same location; the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in the capitol of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. We were leaving the museum after a most sobering tour of Security Prison 21, used by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot to house political prisoners before sending them to their deaths at any number of "Killing Fields." The middle picture says the most about what this place is about. A young monk has just emerged from a cell for prisoners in this former high school, no longer needed because schools were forbidden during the regime which lasted from 1975-1979. A sign above him says "no smiling or laughing" as if anyone needed reminding. The top and bottom show young children, far too young to understand what they are about to see as they enter with their parents. This was an emotionally grueling day as we had first visited one of the "Killing Fields" just outside the city limits. Certainly not an enjoyable experience, but I got an education in political and ideological horror.

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