Year published :2002

Pages :238 pp.

Size :14.5x21 cm.

Rights :Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar

ISBN: 9789747551150

Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison

by David P. Chandler

In January 1979, at the end of their two-year war against Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, Vietnamese troops captured the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. As they entered the city, they came upon the grounds of a former high school where they discovered the bodies of several recently murdered men and a huge, hastily abandoned archive.

The site had been a prison, code-named S-21, where in just under 4 years, some 14,000 men, women and children had been incarcerated, interrogated, tortured and killed by the Khmer Rouge in a demented effort to cleanse the country of its perceived political enemies. Only seven prisoners who entered S-21 emerged alive. The archives of S-21 held stacks of administrative records documenting daily life, interrogations and torture. There were also 4000 ‘confessions’ extracted from prisoners.

How could a place like S-21 happen? By analyzing the mass of documents, supplemented by interviews with survivors and former workers, and then examining this alongside such horrific twentieth century phenomena as the Holocaust, the Moscow Show Trials and Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ in the 1970s, Chandler looks at what was uniquely Cambodian and what was universal about what happened at S-21.

What Others Are Saying

"David Chandler has immersed himself in a unique and largely unexplored collection of primary sources from hell."Craig Etcheson, Former Director of the Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale University

"Chandler has situated his analysis within a knowledge of Khmer history that is unparalleled. Impressive also is his use of works from a diverse range of fields-social psychology, Holocaust studies, religion, anthropology and Sovlet history…"Charles Keyes, Professor of Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Washington

About the Author

David Chandler is Professor Emeritus of History at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of A History of Cambodia, Facing the Cambodian Past: Selected Essays, and the acclaimed Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pot Pot.