reportage The Sadness of S-21
Until 16 April 1975, 'detention' at Tuol Sleng high school, like everywhere else in the world, simply meant being kept late in class. The very next day that changed forever: 17 April was the birthday of a new millennium, a historical spasm so convulsive that its progenitors decreed an end to the old calendar.

This was Year Zero, when the revolutionary Khmer Rouge forces commanded by Pol Pot and his Paris-educated cadres overthrew 'bourgeois rule' and forced the citizens of Cambodia out of the cities to work in the fields. Under this crash-course scheme of Maoist re-education, detention at the high school at Tuol Sleng acquired an altogether more sinister and brutal aspect. The Khmer-Rouge turned it into a prison, where those suspected of harbouring counter-revolutionary sentiments were interrogated, harassed, humiliated, forced into writing confessions and then, in any case, executed.
Spring 1997 | The Photo Archive Group and related links | Archive | Back | Next | 3 of 10