Cambodia - S21
Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution center. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived.
The Pol Pot regime ran S-21 as a secret prison in Phnom Penh from the middle of 1975 until the end of 1978. Those who were accused of treason were brought to S-21 with their families and were photographed when they arrived. These prisoners were brutally tortured until they confessed to whatever crime they had been charged with and were executed shortly thereafter. The photographs and confessions were submitted to Khmer Rouge authorities as proof that the “traitors” had been eliminated.
Between 1975 and 1978, an estimated two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor, and famine. In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh in early 1979. A moderate Communist government was established, and Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge retreated back into the jungle.