Pol Pot & Tueol Seng

Tueol Seng Prison, Phnom Penn

I had heard of these places, the tyrannical dictator Pol Pot and his regime, when I was in my teens and it was going on or just over.  We were told on the bus that anyone over 45 years old would have been involved in this horrific abuse of power and people I’ve known of!

To see it first hand was – shocking, frightening and unsettling that the modern world/leaders could allow this to happen – again, and ongoing like ISIS now and others!

My tuk tuk driver was about 8 when his brother, sister and father were taken and died under the Khmer Rouge regime, and he and his mother worked the fields, starved and beaten, to create this stupid, selfish and unrealistic society he wanted to re-create with the Khmer’s who built and ruled Angkor Wat and the city it served …

The children worked the fields on little food, were beaten with bamboo sticks if not working hard enough or ‘lazing’, and Tueol Seng was a school transformed into the authority’s torture prison ….horrible to see and hear about, and what people went through there.  Their crime?  Intelligence!

Tiny rooms enough only for a ‘bed’ on the floor, thick doors clanged shut creating hot chambers to sleep or sit in daily,  or no doors so the guards could watch everyone simultaneously.  No privacy, at times, lying side by side filling the floors of larger rooms or sitting in hot rooms, little food, no water – awaiting whatever horror was coming to them next, beaten for talking to each other.


These upper rooms, no doubt guard rooms and barracks, tell the stories with paintings by ex prisoners – only two of who survived and work there, in their 80s now, rescued at the last minute by storming troops from western countries, including the UK – whilst many were murdered there and then in their cells and some, no doubt, welcoming death as respite from the pain and suffering they didn’t deserve …

A book written by one of the two survivors, is on sale and had they not both been sleeping, at an old age, I would have liked to chat and share my pain for their suffering, and of others.   Hearing the stories of a few young children initially thought to be the guards family and almost killed by soldiers, when they were found to be surviving children of a few prisoners, who had hidden themselves at the storming of the camp.

Telling of the torturous experiences they endured daily, some untold horrors only seen in the eyes and demeanour of one women whose friends story was written on the walls.

Remember, these were intelligent people, professors, scientists and so could share what was happening, and one, a British journalist I vaguely remember when I was around 16 years old, on TV, the story of being captured taking photos, and telling stories, caught and imprisoned here – tortured for the ‘truth’ they never listened to or really wanted, just murderous people hell bent on hurting others in the name of ‘treason’, under a mentally unstable leader who pretended – even to his friend who suffered under this four year outrage too and asked why – he didn’t know the atrocities taken place or the suffering and mistreatment of the population in the fields … but I never realised the real horror of what was going on there, and it wasn’t really reported fully yet politicians knew it was happening, and on occasion still welcomed Pol Pot to meetings!

and The Killing Fields

Women and children taken there, or to the Killing Fields out of the city, where they were murdered by blows to the head and body, children smashed against a huge tree where today, many thread bracelets bought elsewhere from beggars, hang in memory and sadness of the hundreds dying there.  Thousands.   The burial sites still there, the buildings in what was once a beautiful countryside setting…

The hundreds of skulls now housed in a tall structure, with glass on all four sides to show numbers and ages of those dying there.

Mass graves as once were, boundaried off from walkers, still troughs in the ground and the tall, thick tree where children heads were smashed to save bullets and money, a way of killing them and tossing them to their mothers already in the mass graves, themselves beaten to death to save money, and I hope,  not witnessing that horrific act!  Every branch within reach was covered in colour string bracelets you can buy in town for $1 that no doubt most of us had to give to the beggar children abounding there, and now hung here in memory of other outraged children of a sick regime – again, all for money.

These present-day children suffering beatings if they don’t bring in enough, starved if they didn’t do well on the streets, all ages and both sexes, around every café and bar, by the tuk tuks, in the hot sun, or bedded down on sheets – I saw 8 children like this next to the restaurant I was eating at, under the cover of a roof in the rain –  one woman about 35-40 but not their mother for sure, with a baby about a year up to a boy about 8 years giving her a dirty look when told to lie down and be still.  Clearly begging for handouts – but not for the children …

The whole story, history and experiences were horrific and although discomforting, should be shared and heard and certainly visited in that area!  I did a trip the second day to the fields but chose not to re-enter TS with the others as it was too horrible to see again.    Two young women on this trip came back out, after only an hour where I spent hours there, hearing first hand stories, meeting one of only two survivors on the day of liberation – others were murdered on their cots, already suffering from torture and starvation, and these were missed along with a three children who almost died when soldiers thought they were children of the regime soldiers …

A sad yet regular story in our modern world …




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s