A former photographer for the Khmer Rouge regime at the infamous S-21 torture facility says he believes the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ decision to ban him from selling his book directly to tourists at the former prison is due to his lack of connections.
Nhem En, who the regime sent to China at age 9 for photography training and brought back to Phnom Penh to photograph the centre, was told that a book detailing his experiences can be sold at S-21, but that he cannot come in direct contact with visitors.
“It is unfair to me that I am not allowed to sell my book and communicate directly with tourists inside the museum,” En said. “It may be because I have no advantages through nepotism.”
Culture and Fine Arts Ministry spokesman Thai Norak Sathya, however, said that having a former Khmer Rouge member speaking with patrons concerns them.
“We just have to be careful of any problems that may arise from Nhem En selling his book and communicating directly with foreign tourists,” he said.
Sathya said well-known S-21 survivors Bou Meng and Chum Mey are allowed to sell their books at the prison as they had been the regime’s victims.