Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Block D exhibits

A memorial to the deceased in the final room of the Tuol Sleng museum
Over 300 skulls are kept in glass cabinets in the room
These skulls used to form the wall map of Cambodia composed of skulls and bones Khmer Rouge cadre Tuy Kin, pictured at home by Heng Sinith
Another former cadre, Soam Nim, a KR group leader during the '70s
The most dramatic of the exhibits at Tuol Sleng was the map of skulls, which could be found in the last room of the whole museum, after it was set up in 1979. Tuol Sleng was opened to international visitors for the first time in March of that year but it wasn't until July 1980 that Cambodian visitors were allowed in. The map of Cambodia, composed of human skulls taken from the mass graves at the site was the idea of Mai Lam, a Vietnamese colonel who was given the task of creating the Tuol Sleng museum immediately after the ouster of the Khmer Rouge. For many, the map was the final straw in an emotional roller-coaster that is Tuol Sleng, and I witnessed many visitors breaking down in floods of tears on my earlier visits to the museum. The map was removed in March 2002 and the 300 skulls and bones are now in glass cases in the final room of the exhibition. On the first floor of the building is a DC-Cam photo exhibition showing former Khmer Rouge cadre who survived the war. DC-Cam investigators tracked down some of the cadre and the photos show a 'then and now' view. Some visitors have scrawled messages on the old photos.

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