Killing Beyond torture, the principal function of the network of Khmer Rouge security centers seems to have been to physically eliminate perceived enemies of the regime. It is often asked, Why did the Khmer Rouge kill so many Cambodians?
The mapping reports provide at least a partial answer to this question, though the answer is hardly a satisfying one.
Thus the report covers all corners of Cambodia, from the densely populated south to the jungle-clad north, from the remote reaches of the east to the far western rice bowl, and provinces in Cambodia's heartland around the Great Lake.
(See, for example, the story of Prey Damrei Srot prison, as told by Mr. Ao Yoeng of Kampong Thom Province, regarding his experience at Tradet prison.) I would maintain that this practice, which seems to have been widespread, constitutes a particularly cruel form of torture, albeit not in the traditional understanding of torture.
To be slowly starved to death in a roomful of similarly suffering victims seems to me to be a much more excruciating and horrible way to die than simply being marched off to a mass grave pit and smashed on the back of the head with an iron bar.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This document was originally published on the website of the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
It is reposted here with the kind permission of the author.
And it certainly seems to be true that the methodology of torture was much more highly refined at S-21 than it was in the bush leagues of the Khmer Rouge extermination apparatus.