S-21 Photo Exhibition

March 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm (Uncategorized) ()

S-21 was the name given to a former high school in Cambodia transformed into an execution centre by the Khmer Rouge. The camp operated between 1975 and 179 when the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by the Vietnamese army.  An estimated 20,000 people were executed there.

Yesterday, I went to the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition of photographs from the camp. Unlike many of the camps, S-21 maintained detailed photo archives of its prisoners although the identities of the majority are unknown.

It’s eerie looking at the photos. In some ways they resemble nothing more than standard police mug shots but there’s a chilling sense as you realize that within a few months of these pictures being taken the subject would be brutally murdered. What’s strange though is the lack of emotion in the pictures. Only one man has anything like a smile. Most wear what might be called resignation.

It’s said that like Saturn a revolution devours its own children, but the gluttony for murder seems unsurpassed.

The exhibition closed yesterday, but the photographs can be seen on-line at the Tuol Sleng site

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