Yale University



A-Z Index

Documentation on the Photographic Database (CTS)

I. Purpose of CGEO
II. Categories of Images included in CTS

I. The Purpose of the Photographic Database

The purpose of the CGDB Photographic Database is to bring together in one place the most complete collection ever assembled of images pertaining to gross violations of human rights under the Democratic Kampuchea regime. A wide variety of different types of images are included in this database. A large collection of photographs of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime can be viewed here. Another collection of photographs of military and political cadre of the Khmer Rouge will soon be available through the CGDB Biographical Database. We have also assembled a substantial number of photographs of events, places and items relevant to questions of human rights violations under the Khmer Rouge, which will soon be available here. In addition, the CGP has also created scanned images of thousands of documents, maps and other two-dimensional materials, some of which are now accessible through the CGDB Bibliographical Database, or will soon be made available in various parts of the Cambodian Genocide Data Bases.

II. Categories of Images included in the Photographic Database

The primary entries included in the image data base which are directly accessible to CGDB users are scanned files of over 5,000 prisoner photographs from the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. These images depict prisoners of the Khmer Rouge upon their arrival at the S-21 extermination facility. There seems to be no correlation between the photographs, on the one hand, and lists of prisoners names and confessions, on the other hand. The people photographed often had a number pinned to their clothing, but it seems the numbers identified the group or batch of people who were processed together, rather than being an individual identification number. In the early 1980s, visitors to the Museum of Genocide often wrote the names of people that they recognised on the displayed photographs, but the authorities decided this would destroy the photos, and so they asked visitors to desist from this practice. The original negatives of these photographs were eventually "rescued" from an uncertain fate by the non-profit Photo Archive Group, then restored and preserved, and returned to the Museum. The photographs are presented here in the hope that these Khmer Rouge victims -- most of whom remain unidentified -- might be recognized by friends or family members, and thus they will no longer be forced to linger in the status of "unknown victim."

In addition to the prisoner photographs, the CGP has also assembled a large collection of photos of sites in Cambodia where genocidal acts may have taken place, as well as many photos of Khmer Rouge officials. In the period after 1979, the Cambodian government identified a number of sites around the country where large-scale killing took place, and excavated some of the mass graves, such as the site that is commonly referred to as the "Killing Fields," the Choeung Ek Genocide Museum site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Many photographs were taken at that time, and these are some of the materials that we have uncovered over the last two years. Very often, the accompanying reports are handwritten, with photographs glued on, probably the original copy. In addition, CGP Mapping Teams and researchers are also taking photographs of the sites we visit. Very few of these photographs are included in the present release of data, but we will continue to add these materials to the photographic database as resources allow.

Another very large collection of digitized images assembled by the CGP consists of scanned reproductions of primary documents pertaining to Khmer Rouge violations of human rights. For the time being, these images are not being made available directly in an image library, but rather as attachments to bibliographic records in the CGDB Bibliographical Database. In instances where a given document has been scanned and processed, it can be accessed through individual bibliographic records, by "clicking" on the image file name in the bibliographic record. This collection of scanned documents includes the following categories:

We began our collection of scanned document images with the Khmer-language version of the documents for the 1979 People's Revolutionary Tribunal (PRT), partly because most of our researchers are Khmer and we wanted to make the material available for them. We hoped that we could do optical character recognition of the English versions of the tribunal documents, so we started with bit-mapped image scanning of the PRT documents. We've finished scanning all the Khmer PRT material using the GIF image format.

A second major component of scanned images is a collection held by the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), which we refer to as the "Million Documents." During our first year of research in 1995, sources kept telling us that there was a big collection of "the million documents." Eventually, DC-Cam obtained access to this collection. It turns out that, rather than a "million documents," this is a large collection of reports and petitions which includes what seems to be "a million signatures" on documents. From 1979 to 1983, the Cambodian government supported a research committee to survey the country, in every province, and in some provinces right down to the village level, to attempt to determine what had happened in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. In addition to recording death tolls, damage to religious and cultural institutions, and destroyed economic assets, these researchers also asked people to condemn the Khmer Rouge and sign a petition requesting the ouster of the Khmer Rouge from the Cambodian seat at the United Nations. (Evidently the petitions were never presented to the UN.) This is an important collection. We have scanned all of the documents from Siem Reap province. We are continuing to categorize the remaining documents into their different districts, according to content, and then scanning and translating particular documents that we consider are more meaningful in a sense of providing more concrete data. We have a summary that gives their figures of the number of deaths and the number of petitioners, and this is where the "million" figure comes from, as 1,166,307 petitioners had signed these documents. The research committee reported the deaths of 3,314,000 persons under the Khmer Rouge regime. We believe that this is the source of the figure most commonly cited in Cambodia as to the human toll of the genocide.

Finally, the CGP has also obtained a large collection of documents produced by the Khmer Rouge security services known as the "Santebal." This collection includes such material as personnel records of Khmer Rouge "security" officers, biographies of prisoners, daily execution logs, orders directing a particular prisoner or set of prisoners to be transferred from one prison to another (or simply for them to be executed), and other bureaucratic minutiae from within the Khmer Rouge extermination apparatus. Some of these documents have also been scanned and are available through the CGDB Bibliographic Data Base, and others will be added in the future.

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