S21 Genocide Museum

I’ve been here over ten times and each time, an eerie uneasiness forms knots in my stomach, giving me goose bumps as the ghosts of the victims call out to me. I am standing on the very spot where thousands of people were tortured and execute. So many lives lost, so much unexplainable suffering. Yet only a feet hundred feet away, new condominiums tower over S21 as if to bury it, to deny its existence. And who can blame the people for wanting to forget the pain, the suffering and horrifying images of death?

I glance at our volunteers as they quietly stroll through S21, wondering how or if it effect them. Pa Nyia starts crying and instinctively I walk to her, hug her and we stare at the pictures of the victims. Memories of my first visit to S21 rush back. Images of the victims – men, women, children, elders – glare back at me as if they can see through my soul. I broke down then, overwhelmed with emotions, unable to articulate – to describe- the anger, the pain and the sense of wanting release, longing for closure. My father and mother’s faces flash before me and I want to reach out to their ghost and tell them, I finally understood what they sacrificed for me. Tears form and slowly run down my face and I am missing my children and life’s partner. It is Christmas in MN, although our journey has just begun, I want to go home and just hold them. I turn, give an uneasy smile toward our volunteers as I motion them to leave the S21. It was closing time…

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