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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tuol Sleng Museum applies for registration with Unesco

Tuol Sleng Museum applies for registration with Unesco


Help sought from agency's Memory of the World Program to preserve photo, document archives, part of S-21 building


Tourists look at mug shots of inmates while visiting Tuol Sleng prison Tuesday.

THE notorious Tuol Sleng prison and its vast torture archive will be registered with Unesco's Memory of the World program by early 2009, a museum official told the Post Tuesday. 

Chey Sopheara, deputy director of the Department of Museums in charge of S-21, said the government submitted its application to help preserve the prison's archives as well as a part of the building to the United Nations agency last Friday.

The archive contains over 5,000 photographs of the more than 15,000 prisoners, as well as biographical records of Khmer Rouge officials and inmates, torture instruments and written confessions, said a copy of the application to Unesco's Memory of the World program.

While the S-21 building started out its life as one of Phnom Penh's secondary schools, the Khmer Rouge regime transformed it into the country's most notorious prisons after they captured the capital in April 1975.

"Undoubtedly crucial as evidence to be used in the forthcoming Khmer Rouge trial, the archive is also an essential part of Cambodia's recent history," the application said.

"We want the younger generations to know about the genocide that happened in Cambodia," said Chey Sopheara.

Samm Kalyan, from the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), said that registering S-21 with the Memory of the World project plays an important role in educating the world about Cambodia's "dark history".

The prison was run by Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, who is among five Khmer Rouge leaders detained by the UN-backed court for crimes committed during the regime's 1975-79 rule. Duch's trial for crimes against humanity is expected to begin in October.



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