Monday, August 1, 2011

Prison Blog

Last week a new blog appeared, purportedly being posted from inside Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison by a western prisoner, entitled "Life in one square meter." I first saw mention of it on K440. The Phnom Penh Post reported on it in today's paper. The blog lasted just a few days, racking up only four or five posts before being removed sometime yesterday without explanation. And it is not even clear that it was what it claimed to be in the first place. While there was a definite ring of authenticity about it, especially in the inclusion of photos, the writer also displayed a degree of bravado that strikes me as a bit too much. Certainly far more than I could muster in the same dire situation. It's authenticity is still an open question. Nevertheless, genuine or not, it made for riveting reading while it was being posted.

As the blog appeared to be the sort of thing that couldn't last, especially if real, I copied most of the content as it was posted. So, in case you missed it, and as it is no longer available online (at least at this time), here it is, reprinted...

The following is almost the full content of the 'prison blog,' including most of the photos, up till a few hours before it disappeared. I don't know if I missed any postings in the last few hours. I lost some of the posting dates, perhaps 1 or 2 of the photos and the photos may not be placed correctly, otherwise the following is a complete copy of the blog.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Normal behaviour?

Dont remember really where I stopped writing last time.
One could think that life in prison would be booring and that time would be very long and hard to pass.
But during this first month, so many things have happened every single day, so it has actually been very interresting.
Offcourse getting this phone in here & having access to internet is the main essentiallity. Being able to follow life on the outside, get information and actively work, makes all the difference!
Just finding ways to smuggle illegal devices such as this, is a challenge & takes alot of effort. Trial and error, loss of cash and time is all a part of it.
The first weeks I was very sick, couldnt eat and was hungry and exhausted most of the time. Several attempts to get to the hospital when the NGO:s are here, which turned out to be a big nothing. They are just as useless as the "doctor" in here.
Getting the right medication or treatment is completely impossible & finally I concluded that sending a corrupt guard to the pharmacy and practice self-diagnose & treatment is the only way to go.
At one point I was so sick of parasites and full of different medicines for the wrong things so I didnt have energy to even drink anymore.
My cellmates managed to get me to the hospital, where they put drip and then tossed me off at a bunk in one of the hospital-cells.
In there the prisoners are the doctors and luckily I was well taken care of, by ine of the inmates, who obviously had seen alot in there.
fever of 41 degrees C, shakes and shivvering turned into cramps & then I passed out and wasnt possible to get me concious again for about 30 hours.
The prisoner who took care of me, constantly wiped my entire body with ice-water, to keep my temperature down, changed my drip and apparently the entire population of the cell had inspected my private (or should they be called public) -parts, during my coma.
The fashination of westeners seem to have no limitations.
They all told me about this after I woke up, just as if it was a natural thing to do.
When I came back to my senses (?) the staff quickly made sure I got back to block A.
Many people likes to stay in the hospital-area, since there is a little bit more freedom and space.
By now I only still suffer from a both-sided ear-infection & caugh.
-feeling really healthy, considering!

The fact that Ive had canned food, gruel and oat-meal brought in from the outside, allows me to most of the time have a full stomach & that makes all the difference!

Another funny incident regarding what is considered "normal" occurred last night.
-we have a dvd-player in the cell, so every evening when the electricity comes on, its movie-time.
The 16 khmer guys in the cell will watch absolutely any shit, as long as the screen has moving images and some sounds.
But obviously - being in prison - porn is the absolute favourite to watch.
Last night I was slumbering, woke up around 9 pm, to try call my girl (imprisoned at P2).
I wake up and find 15 khmer men aged 18-30 sitting around the 8" screen, watching a large sized dog, licking the .. Eh.. "public" area of a woman. (guessing german shepard-ish race... Referring to the dog..).
I make my phonecall and realize 30 minutes later, that they still are watching the same movie, which by now was way passed ..eh.. The foreplay-stages.
I shake my head and try to get the disturbing images out of my head and go back to sleep.
An hour later, the 15 guys havent moved an inch and the same dvd is still playing,
- sit up and ask in khmer:
-what the hell!?? Why are you watching that shit? A dog fucking a girl!?
a few of them turn on their heads and one answers:
- its not a dog, now its a pig fucking a girl!
- Ah! Well! That explains it? Thats totally different then...?
I give up.

......
Chains of logic in cambodia:
Today is sunday. Thats equal to rain, which is equal to not being allowed to go outside, which usually means that some for of illegal drug will be consumed in most cells, - to make time pass...
another chain of logic as a good friend of mine recently explained to me: the bordertowns are great. There is usually casinos.
where there is gambling, there is prostitution, and where prostitution is, there is amfetamines!

.....
I have come to realize that my blog dont really follow a straight line of occurances - leading towards anything.
I must admit Im not to structured and have missed to write about many essential developments.
I guess I could have givven a way easier story to follow, if I sat down and put alot of effort into trying to summarize the main events of the passed month, but I just need to focus on stuff currently in motion and blog about the past and current, as I go along.

If it makes no sense to you, the best tip I can give u is:

-Learn to like it.
Posted by Unknown at 12:08 AM

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New England Clam Chowder
July 29, 2011



The first couple of days in here were the toughest.
I had no cash, no clothes, no possebillity to find out what was going on in the outside world.
Being last to enter the cell, my mandatory sleepingplace was offcourse the floor. The space 2*1,80 and 6 guys to try to fit. Offcourse, by being 1,90, I couldnt stretch my legs & couldnt either hav them bent, cos then my knees were in the back of the guy sleeping in the lowest hammock. We are lucky, in our room we have 6 hammocks, 3 high up hangin between the window-bars and 3 between the toilet-divider-wall and the cell-door. Saves shitloads of space.
5 nights the poor bastards had to try to fit around me on the floor, where the air is standing still and the heat making it unbareable, choking for air and sweating like pigs. Having stranger men on and under me skin to skin was also a new experience, not to easy to get comfortable with. Elbows and knees in yr soft areas, by any of the ones lucky enough to be able to fall asleep, was and is always handled with the "forgive and forget"-rule.
Finally my loyal and since long time close friend, -my brother, speaking a language I most often understand as well as my own, managed to get some basic supplies & well needed $ in to me.
The guards wont let u recieve visitors 1st month, unless u pay stupid amounts of money. But somehow he managed to get them to deliver a bag to me.
I paid 20 bucks & got a space on the platform, 1,90 long and 47,5cm wide space, with linoleum (wax-cloth) so we dont have to sleep straight on the concrete.
Sleeping without a mattress, on plain stone-floor, was first a painful technique I had to learn the first 5 nights in the holding-cell, back at the police-station in phnom penh.

But u can get used to most things.

Offcourse I cant fit in 47,5cm, laying flat on my back, so a new technique to lay on the side and spoon with my neighbours in whatever direction the entire platform seemed to have chosen for the night, had to be learned.
Its funny, how my old boss at Ellco Food had a saying that Ive carried with me for the rest of my life. Bubba was wise and many times when we had a shitjob that had to be done, he used to say:
If u cant change ur situation, the best thing you can do is:
Learn to like it.

Learn to like it... Well, its surprising how many times Ive found this wisdom useful, but never has it been so hard to practice this method, as in the situation I now found myself in.
But! Compared to the floor situation, this was rather easy to like and now I had cash to buy water and cigarettes & other stuff such as gas to cook the fish or choice of proteinsource to go with the rice.
Rice.... Fuck that is one thing I have never successfully learned to like. Most times it turns around and I chew it again and try to get it down the throat with amounts of water..

Im a bit tired today, so wont be much more writing, but want to mention that today we had a bit of a special day. Traditional tea-drinking-ceremony which is done when someone is going to go to the court. funny enough, coffe, they fill with sugar till it looses the taste of coffe, but tea is apparently supposed to be as bitter as possible.

If plants had a gall-bladder, their tea would be the direct contents from this one, then boiled looooong aand concentrated up till some undrinkable fluid, that will keep a horse awake for a week.
Urk!
Attached photos were taken in the ambient afternoon-darkness of the cell, during tea-ceremony.

Hereby I can personally confirm that torture occurrs in prey sar. This ceremony, I guess, is what makes the wait for court-date more bareable. At least I wont have to drink that piss for a while, I can comfort myself...
Header of the day is dedicated to the can of conserved food I got brought to me today. It was delicious! No rice at all!


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close together
(July 29, 2011??)




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my first words in my first blog ever
(July 27, 2011?)

its funny.
as I was registring the blog I was thinking weather it was a really bad or a good idea to start a blog.

Maybe this will only get me into some real trouble, like pissing of some real hotshot of prey sahr, by revealing what they work so hard to keep secret from the entire outside world.

As the page for creating a post is being loaded my screen goes blank and all thats left is the headline of the page-tab in the web-browser.
Obviously I cant help but looking at d only info available:
You are done!

Ironic. Or a mysterious warning.

I quickly go through the settings and remove the blog from search-engines & also decide to change adress from preysahr, to phnompenhprison, to ensure my half-inkognito so I wont have to worry about gettin paranoia-thoughts in the middle of the night.

Its amazing what efforts they go through to keep the reality of the inside of the walls, secret from the world.

No NGO or embassy has ever been allowed inside any of the blocks.
No photos. Not even thee guards are allowed to have mobile-phones.
US-embassy & a handfull of NGO:s have been allowed to walk on the main isle, halfway into the complex, take a left and walkthrough the "showroom" ie. Library and hospital, where things actually look really pleasant. Unless ur really sick and happen to be a prisoner. more about that later...
But its surprising, just try to google "prey sahr" and see for yourself the extent of information and statements about this place!
Just the essential little pieces of information, such as the fact that drinkable water must be paid for... Or.. Lets just say: Nothing in here is for free.
Everything you have to pay for.

It starts with your place to sleep, water and from there on, anything u whish to have or do -it has a pricetag.

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untitled post
(July 26, 2011??)

When I first came to this place, I was surpriced to see how beautiful it actually was inside the high double walls with barbed wire on d top. (after I and the 5 guys I arrived with had been forced to remove all clothing except underwear.)

Prey Sahr translates to white forrest, and in here its very green with palmtrees and greenery of different size and vriations. Empty bascetballcourses and little parks with wlking isles, and a dousin of huge 2 stories-buildings with beige-yellow painting and orange roofs.
And it was silent. As we walked through the facilities, to block A (not yet sentenced-prisoners-block) I tried to look get an idea about the conditions behind the dark double-barred windows of the buildings we were passing by.
There seemed to be an incredible noise and thousands of voices shouting from within the dark holes of the beautiful facades of the buildings.
As we came through the big gate in the wall that divided block A from the rest of the prison, finally there was some real noise, not only the suffacated shouts from within the mysterious dark gaps, giving away an idea about the true nature of what to the eye could seem not so horrorful.
Behind block A- wall there were prisoners working hard under the afternoon-sun, with constructing what seems to be 2 new cell-blocks, - indicating that the present blockA building does not have enough room to house the amount of prisoners that were continously being sent here.

As we came up to the entrance of blockA, I peered into the darkness and now was closer than ever to the indistinctive shouts of a thoousand voices. Now it was very loud, but still impossible to separate one voice from another.
i will never 4get my immediate chock at arrival of my cell-door and my surprice as it was opened. It was exactly d feel of a overcrowded elevator& I instinctivly took a polite step 2 d side 2 let a few out. The guard grunted & pushed me in direction to enter the room where it seemed to not be any place for me to fit & as he closed the door, it swept me inside!

Hello, I say to about 20 faces staring at me, and I try to make my way through the room, in attempt to find a spot to not be in someones way.
-COOKIE!! I suddely hear and down in the corner I recognize fat-andy pale and still fat.

I was surprices to hear such posetivity in his vvoice as he shouted my name, as the last time I saw him, it was by the end of my telescope-batong, collecting a debt.

Well - he seemed to let that be water under the bridge, and truth to say, - I was really glad to see someone/something familiar, in this new enviroment.
Fat-Andy has a different style & is not someone who would ever be called "normal". On many levels. There is something "lurky", or hidden in his way to be. Certainly I would have an interresting time, stayin close to this man for an extended period of time -perhaps I would uncover his so doublesided appearance.

Fatty didnt have much, not even a towel, but whatever he had he happily helped me out & shared with me. His old T-shirt would have to do as towel for both of us during my first week, before my loyal and good friends from outside had managed to get me some basic appliances.

4 comments:

  1. Can I ask for your permission to copy your post to my blog?

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a former inmate of Prey Sar I do confirm the living conditions describe here. All his writing about the jail is correct and he is obviously inside but not too bright as it is easy for the police to spot him thanks to the pictures and him mentioning his friend. They are cleaver than they look and I am sure they already got his phone now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, I have someone I want to write letters to and send care packages in Prey Sar,but I'm unfamiliar with the mail rules of this prison and afraid that if I send something that the person might not get it.
    How often do you guys get mail?
    How often are you allowed to write back?
    Should I send stationary for this person to write back? envelopes,post stamps?
    How about sending vitamins? to keep this person in best health possible.
    When writing a letter are you allowed to write with colours?(gel pens)? should the return address be written on the letter as well as envelope? books,magazines or any other items that are considered luxury. Any info on this subject would be greatly appreciated. I'll be checking back to see if I have a reply... Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Accentuating formula by Colleen Shaut

    "I asked Colleen Shaut to transform the kitchen, without changing its galley layout, into a more inviting and efficient space – importantly, my prized collection of Bill Campbell pottery had to take center stage," said the owner about the kitchen’s redesigned concept, as provided by notable furniture in Cambodia construction materials.
    The designer then divide the space into two working stations facing each other. "This allowed me to give the substantial range breathing space so it could take precidence within the design," stated Shaut. "Large open shelves on this wall provide ideal places to display the pottery pieces. However, galley kitchens are all about balance, so I set most above-counter cabinetry on the opposite wall to off-set the display shelves. These upper cabinets are glass fronted as, in turn, I didn't want that side to appear heavy."
    "Inspiration for the rich wood cabinetry and floors, the blue tiled backsplash and textured granite countertops all came from the pottery's vibrant hues," added Shaut. "The backsplash is in two tile formats, with narrower pieces placed to create a waterfall effect – a feature version is seen behind the range while the other, smaller one is behind the sink directly opposite."

    ReplyDelete