S21

Going to Cambodia our first steps take us to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum,  the former facility that went by the name “S21” during the rule of the Red Khmer. And for many of supposed or actual enemies of the regime  painful entry to a hell of torture. Today the building, that used to be a school, is open to the public and tries to bear witness to the gruelty. But visiting the place today, caught in a mixture of international tourists, feels surreal as most of them wear one of the audioguides, silently sitting on one of the benches or without expression looking at the countless pictures of the victims. Of course there is nothing wrong about the fact itself, learning about the history. But still, it seems surreal as all visitors are occupied with the same questions of “How?” and “Why?” and the exhibition itself does not lend a hand when it comes to understanding the context of it all. And so “S21” stays, for most of its visitors an empty shell of suffering, which they will mark as memorable without reason. Communication is almost completely absent. It is because of these reasons that the following pictures don´t show people: In light of a decent remembrance of the suffering people as more that victims. And because of the absence of the culprits and a graspable understanding of it all. A silent reminder of the  burden that this chapter still is for the country. Even more so for its visitors: A dark hole of silence. 

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