Speed. Rolling. Slate 98.
At the top of the prison execution, extermination system that existed throughout Cambodia
, there was S-21, the central security prison, or what is known commonly as Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh
, the place where 15,000 people were executed and only seven survived.
When the Vietnamese invaded they did so so quickly that essentially the Khmer Rouge jailers and prison officials ran off, fled for their lives and left behind scores of thousands of pages of documentation that had been utilized at this prison execution center.
This wasn't known about before 1979, before the Khmer Rouge were ousted. And it's very surprising that you would have in an illiterate peasant country a bureaucracy of death that was that efficient and that developed. Ah...
Literally an Asian Auschwitz, as it were. But you had the Khmer Rouge prison officials took photographs of individual upon entry. There are records, individual entry records for everybody who came through there, that would list people's professions, their place of origin, the reason they were arrested. Ah...
People were individually photographed. People were forced to confess to being traitors to the revolution and naming their conspirators as it were. Often this took the crude form of being accused of being either a CIA agent or a KGB agent. That's actually how it was expressed.
But these people were forced to confess. They either, if they were illiterate dictated confessions or if they could write they handwrote confessions. In some of the margins of the confessions you can see notes about torture that were written by the prison officials to indicate the means that they undertook to get people to confess to their misdeeds.
And so you have these confessions and you have typewritten summaries of confessions that were made by the prison officials to send on to party higher ups. And you have photographs of individuals taken after they were dead or nearly dead that could also be sent off to party higher-ups to show that the traitors to the revolution had been killed and they were not being harbored.
So you have this extraordinary documentation of murder and torture from which in fact the Cambodian speaking scholars can reconstruct part of... quite a bit of the internal history of the regime, and actually of the political pathology of the regime. That is to say, you can take the entry schedules and the execution schedules and look at the kinds of people who were essentially washing through as the Khmer Rouge sought successive scapegoats, as to who was sabotaging the revolution.
As the revolution failed to work they kept looking about for who was sabotaging it now. Because they had figured that they had eliminated the enemies to the revolution but still things weren't working so they sought scapegoats. And you can trace this as it were by looking at the successive occupation and situations of people who were being booked and exterminated, and looking at the questions and answers in the confessions.
So it is an extraordinary set of documents, documentation that people didn't know exist. But there it is. It's in Khmer. It's being organized as best the archivists can do, at Tuol Sleng. When I was there in 1981 you had piles on the floor of file folders full of photographs, full of negatives with these confessions, and slowly they are trying to organize, make archives of it. But it's an extraordinary set of record keeping.
Tone, tone, tone end of sound roll 25.