Sunday, January 06, 2008

Alternative Tuol Sleng

With my regular motodop feeling unwell, my plan to visit Phnom Chisor bit the dust so I seized the opportunity this morning to revisit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which I've visited many times in the past. It's always a place that has held a morbid interest for me after I heard of its existence in John Pilger's Year Zero documentary in 1979. My first visit was in 1994 and at that time it was still very raw in its impact and the site was poorly-maintained, compared to the more sanitized conditions you see today. Nevertheless, the overall effect remains and for some its too much - I saw a few western visitors weeping silent tears in a couple of the rooms - though the number of tourists at the site today implies it remains one of the 'must see' stops on the tourist trail in the capital.
I will post photos from my visit soon but I thought I'd kick-off with some alternative views from Tuol Sleng. These are a few of the graffiti drawings that can be found on the white-washed walls between floors, depicting a Wild West style gunslinger holding the head of Jesus, and a series of sketches of the typical '60s style bouffant hair-do's that were all the rage at the time and can be seen in pictures of legendary singers like Ros Sereysothea. The final set of graffiti is scrawled across a picture of Son Sen, the Tuol Sleng supremo, which is housed in Block D as part of a permanent exhibition by DC-Cam. I'm informed that the translation of the Khmer writing across the picture is much too rude to print here.

This looks like the head of Jesus being carried by a Wild West syle gunslinger!

The 1960s bouffant style hair-do's are reflected in the two graffiti drawings

Another '60s bouffant as worn by singer Ros Sereysothea, who disappeared under the Khmer Rouge, presumed dead

A defaced photo of Son Sen, the Khmer Rouge Defence Minister with responsibility for the activities that took place at Tuol Sleng

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