The Khmer Rouge Genocide



                  S-21 (Security Office 21), also known as Toul Sleng Prison, used to be Chao Ponhea Yat High School. During the Khmer Rouge regime, it was turned into a secret “interrogation, torture and examination” centre during the Khmer Rouge.  Approximately 14,000 prisoners were kept in Toul Sleng, but only 12 survived after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

                Most of the survivors were people who had the necessary skills that were useful to the Khmer Rouge such as: “painters, watch repairers, sculptors” since they were able to perform these tasks in Toul Sleng. People who were sent to Toul Sleng were mostly people who were accused of being traitors or showing disloyalty to the revolution as well as people who worked for/with Khmer Rouge cadres who have been arrested in Toul Sleng.

                    The ground floor contains small cells (0.8 x 2 meters) for single prisoners, whereas the first and second floor were “mass prison cells” where everyone had shackles on their legs/ankles, lying on the bare floor. There were 10 strict regulations that one must follow within this prison, otherwise they will face severe consequences such as beatings, electric shocks, or death.  The prisoners were in filthy conditions, with little sanitations (they bathed once in every four days) and ridiculously small rations of food (4 spoons of porridge and watery soup of leaves). 

                      Apart from Cambodians, a majority of the prisoners were Vietnamese. Interrogation and getting confessions from the prisoners were vital to them before killing off the prisoners because they can record the confessions (that were most of the time untrue) and have evidence backed up. Therefore, when or if someone demands for an explanation why the people were killed, they could use the recorded confessions.

S-21 contained a “documentation unit, defense unit, and the interrogation unit.” The defense unit was the biggest section in S-21 and in the interrogation unit is also separated into three smaller units:

- Hot unit-permitted to torture people

-Cold unit- not allowed to torture people for answers/confessions.

-Chewing Unit-handles hard/important interrogations and cases.

                                S-21 was managed by Son Sen (comrade Khiev) together with other with other important individuals such as “Duch (chief of S-21), Khim Vat (Hor-Deputy chief of S-21), Peng (chief of guards), Chan (chief of the interrogation unit), and Pon (interrogator).”