Khmer Rouge, User:Diderot/Khmer Rouge
, Talk:Khmer Rouge
, Cambodia under Pol Pot (1975-1979)
, Category:Khmer Rouge
, Talk:Khmer Rouge/Archive 4
, Talk:Khmer Rouge/Archive 1
, Talk:Khmer Rouge/Archive 2
, Talk:Khmer Rouge/Archive 3
, Image:Skull of Khmer Rouge victim.jpg
) was the extremist Communist
organization that ruled Cambodia
. The term "Khmer Rouge," meaning "Red Khmer
" in French
, was coined by Cambodian head of state Norodom Sihanouk
and was later adopted in English
. It was used to refer to a succession of communist parties in Cambodia which evolved into the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK)
and later the Party of Democratic Kampuchea
. The organization was also known as the Khmer Communist Party
and the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea
The Khmer Rouge regime is remembered mainly for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people although some claim the toll to be as high as 3 million (from an estimated 1972
population of 7.1 million) under its regime, through execution
and forced labor
. Although directly responsible for the death of about 750,000, the policies of the Khmer Rouge led, mainly through starvation and displacement
, to the death of over 1 million people. In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population of the country it ruled, it was one of the most lethal regime
s of the 20th century
. One of their mottos, in reference to the New People
, was: "To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss."
The Khmer Rouge regime was removed from power in 1979
as a result of an invasion
. It survived into the 1990s
as a resistance movement
operating in western Cambodia from bases in Thailand
. In 1996
, following a peace agreement
, the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot
formally dissolved the organisation. With the death in custody of Ta Mok
) in July 2006
, Khang Khek Ieu
, also known as "Duch," remains the only member of the regime currently imprisoned awaiting trial
in the Extraordinary Chambers currently being established to try certain former officials of the Pol Pot regime.
Origins of the Khmer Rouge
The Cambodian Left: The Early Phases
The history of the communist movement in Cambodia can be divided into six phases: the emergence of the Indochinese Communist Party
(ICP), whose members were almost exclusively Vietnamese, before World War II
; the ten-year struggle for independence from the French, when a separate Cambodian communist party, the Kampuchean (or Khmer) People's Revolutionary Party
(KPRP), was established under Vietnamese auspices; the period following the Second Party Congress of the KPRP in 1960, when Saloth Sar (Pol Pot
) and other future Khmer Rouge leaders gained control of its apparatus; the revolutionary struggle from the initiation of the Khmer Rouge insurgency in 1967-68 to the fall of the Lon Nol government in April 1975
; the Democratic Kampuchea
regime, from April 1975 to January 1979
; and the period following the Third Party Congress of the KPRP in January 1979, when Hanoi effectively assumed control over Cambodia's government and communist party.
Much of the movement's history has been shrouded in mystery, largely because successive purges, especially during the Democratic Kampuchea period, have left so few survivors to recount their experiences. One thing is evident, however, the tension between Khmer and Vietnamese was a major theme in the movement's development. In the three decades between the end of World War II and the Khmer Rouge victory, the appeal of communism to Western educated intellectuals (and to a lesser extent its more inchoate attraction for poor peasants) was tempered by the apprehension that the much stronger Vietnamese movement was using communism as an ideological rationale for dominating the Khmer. The analogy between the Vietnamese communists and the Nguyen dynasty
, which had legitimized its encroachments in the nineteenth century
in terms of the "civilizing mission" of Confucianism
, was persuasive. Thus, the new brand of indigenous communism that emerged after 1960 combined nationalist and revolutionary appeals and, when it could afford to, exploited the virulent anti-Vietnamese sentiments of the Khmers. Khmer Rouge literature in the 1970s
frequently referred to the Vietnamese as yuon (barbarian), a term dating from the Angkorian period
Ho Chi Minh founded the Vietnamese Communist Party by unifying three smaller communist movements that had emerged in Tonkin
, in Annam
, and in Cochinchina
during the late 1920s
. The name was changed almost immediately to the ICP, ostensibly to include revolutionaries from Cambodia and Laos. Almost without exception, however, all the earliest party members were Vietnamese. By the end of World War II, a handful of Cambodians had joined its ranks, but their influence on the Indochinese communist movement and on developments within Cambodia was negligible.
Viet Minh units occasionally made forays into Cambodian bases during their war against the French, and, in conjunction with the leftist government that ruled Thailand until 1947
, the Viet Minh encouraged the formation of armed, left-wing Khmer Issarak bands. On April 17
(twenty-five years to the day before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh), the first nationwide congress of the Khmer Issarak groups convened, and the United Issarak Front was established. Its leader was Son Ngoc Minh
(possibly a brother of the nationalist Son Ngoc Thanh), and a third of its leadership consisted of members of the ICP. According to the historian David P. Chandler
, the leftist Issarak groups, aided by the Viet Minh, occupied a sixth of Cambodia's territory by 1952; and, on the eve of the Geneva Conference, they controlled as much as one half of the country.
In 1951 the ICP was reorganized into three national units--the Vietnam Workers' Party
, the Lao Itsala
, and the KPRP. According to a document issued after the reorganization, the Vietnam Workers' Party would continue to "supervise" the smaller Laotian and Cambodian movements. Most KPRP leaders and rank-and-file seem to have been either Khmer Krom
, or ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia. The party's appeal to indigenous Khmers appears to have been minimal.
According to Democratic Kampuchea's version of party history, the Viet Minh's failure to negotiate a political role for the KPRP at the 1954 Geneva Conference represented a betrayal of the Cambodian movement, which still controlled large areas of the countryside and which commanded at least 5,000 armed men. Following the conference, about 1,000 members of the KPRP, including Son Ngoc Minh, made a "Long March" into North Vietnam, where they remained in exile. In late 1954, those who stayed in Cambodia founded a legal political party, the Pracheachon Party, which participated in the 1955 and the 1958 National Assembly elections. In the September 1955 election, it won about 4 % of the vote but did not secure a seat in the legislature. Members of the Pracheachon were subject to constant harassment and to arrests because the party remained outside Sihanouk's Sangkum. Government attacks prevented it from participating in the 1962 election and drove it underground. Sihanouk habitually labeled local leftists the Khmer Rouge, a term that later came to signify the party and the state headed by Pol Pot, Ieng Sary
, Khieu Samphan
, and their associates.
During the mid-1950s
, KPRP factions, the "urban committee" (headed by Tou Samouth
), and the "rural committee" (headed by Sieu Heng
), emerged. In very general terms, these groups espoused divergent revolutionary lines. The prevalent "urban" line, endorsed by North Vietnam, recognized that Sihanouk, by virtue of his success in winning independence from the French, was a genuine national leader whose neutralism and deep distrust of the United States made him a valuable asset in Hanoi's struggle to "liberate" South Vietnam. Champions of this line hoped that the prince could be persuaded to distance himself from the right wing and to adopt leftist policies. The other line, supported for the most part by rural cadres who were familiar with the harsh realities of the countryside, advocated an immediate struggle to overthrow the "feudalist
" Sihanouk. In 1959
Sieu Heng defected to the government and provided the security forces with information that enabled them to destroy as much as 90 % of the party's rural apparatus. Although communist networks in Phnom Penh and in other towns under Tou Samouth's jurisdiction fared better, only a few hundred communists remained active in the country by 1960.
The Paris Student Group
During the 1950s, Khmer students in Paris
organized their own communist movement, which had little, if any, connection to the hard-pressed party in their homeland. From their ranks came the men and women who returned home and took command of the party apparatus during the 1960s, led an effective insurgency against Sihanouk and Lon Nol from 1968 until 1975, and established the regime of Democratic Kampuchea.
Pol Pot, who rose to the leadership of the communist movement in the 1960s, was born in 1928
(some sources say in 1925
) in Kampong Thum Province
, north of Phnom Penh. He attended a technical high school in the capital and then went to Paris in 1949
to study radio electronics (other sources say he attended a school for printers and typesetters and also studied civil engineering). Described by one source as a "determined, rather plodding organizer," he failed to obtain a degree, but, according to the Jesuit
priest, Father François Ponchaud
, he acquired a taste for the classics of French literature
as well as for the writings of Marx
Another member of the Paris student group was Ieng Sary. He was a Chinese-Khmer born in 1930
in South Vietnam. He attended the elite Lycée Sisowath
in Phnom Penh before beginning courses in commerce and politics at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris
(more widely known as Sciences Po
) in France. Khieu Samphan, considered "one of the most brilliant intellects of his generation," was born in 1931
and specialized in economics and politics during his time in Paris. In talent he was rivaled by Hou Yuon, born in 1930, who was described as being "of truly astounding physical and intellectual strength," and who studied economics and law. Son Sen, born in 1930, studied education and literature; Hu Nim, born in 1932
, studied law.
These men were perhaps the most educated leaders in the history of Asian communism. Two of them, Khieu Samphan and Hou Yuon, earned doctorates from the University of Paris
; Hu Nim obtained his degree from the University of Phnom Penh
in 1965. In retrospect, it seems enigmatic that these talented members of the elite, sent to France on government scholarships, could launch the bloodiest and most radical revolution in modern Asian history. Most came from landowner or civil servant families. Pol Pot and Hou Yuon may have been related to the royal family. An older sister of Pol Pot had been a concubine at the court of King Monivong
. Three of the Paris group forged a bond that survived years of revolutionary struggle and intraparty strife, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary married Khieu Ponnary
and Khieu Thirith (also known as Ieng Thirith
), purportedly relatives of Khieu Samphan. These two well-educated women also played a central role in the regime of Democratic Kampuchea.
The intellectual ferment of Paris must have been a dizzying experience for young Khmers fresh from Phnom Penh or the provinces. A number sought refuge in the dogma of orthodox Marxism-Leninism
. At some time between 1949 and 1951, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary joined the French Communist Party
, the most tightly disciplined and orthodox Marxist-Leninist
of Western Europe's communist movements. In 1951 the two men went to East Berlin
to participate in a youth festival. This experience is considered to have been a turning point in their ideological development. Meeting with Khmers who were fighting with the Viet Minh (and whom they subsequently judged to be too subservient to the Vietnamese), they became convinced that only a tightly disciplined party organization and a readiness for armed struggle could achieve revolution. They transformed the Khmer Students' Association
(KSA), to which most of the 200 or so Khmer students in Paris belonged, into an organization for nationalist and leftist ideas. Inside the KSA and its successor organizations was a secret organization known as the Cercle Marxiste. The organization was composed of cells of three to six members with most members knowing nothing about the overall structure of the organization. In 1952 Pol Pot, Hou Yuon, Ieng Sary, and other leftists gained notoriety by sending an open letter to Sihanouk calling him the "strangler of infant democracy." A year later, the French authorities closed down the KSA. In 1956, however, Hou Yuon and Khieu Samphan helped to establish a new group, the Khmer Students' Union
. Inside, the group was still run by the Cercle Marxiste.
The doctoral dissertations written by Hou Yuon and Khieu Samphan express basic themes that were later to become the cornerstones of the policy adopted by Democratic Kampuchea. The central role of the peasants in national development was espoused by Hou Yuon in his 1955 thesis, The Cambodian Peasants and Their Prospects for Modernization
, which challenged the conventional view that urbanization and industrialization are necessary precursors of development. The major argument in Khieu Samphan's 1959 thesis, Cambodia's Economy and Industrial Development
, was that the country had to become self-reliant and had to end its economic dependency on the developed world. In its general contours, Khieu's work reflected the influence of a branch of the "dependency theory
" school, which blamed lack of development in the Third World
on the economic domination of the industrialized nations.
Path to power
KPRP Second Congress
After returning to Cambodia in 1953, Pol Pot threw himself into party work. At first he went to join with forces allied to the Viet Minh operating in the rural areas of Kampong Cham
Province (Kompong Cham). After the end of the war, he moved to Phnom Penh under Tou Samouth's "urban committee" where he became an important point of contact between above-ground parties of the left and the underground secret communist movement. His comrades, Ieng Sary and Hou Yuon, became teachers at a new private high school, the Lycée Kambuboth, which Hou Yuon helped to establish. Khieu Samphan returned from Paris in 1959, taught as a member of the law faculty of the University of Phnom Penh, and started a left-wing, French-language publication, L'Observateur
. The paper soon acquired a reputation in Phnom Penh's small academic circle. The following year, the government closed the paper, and Sihanouk's police publicly humiliated Khieu by beating, undressing and photographing him in public--as Shawcross notes, "not the sort of humiliation that men forgive or forget." Yet the experience did not prevent Khieu from advocating cooperation with Sihanouk in order to promote a united front against United States activities in South Vietnam. As mentioned, Khieu Samphan, Hou Yuon, and Hu Nim were forced to "work through the system" by joining the Sangkum and by accepting posts in the prince's government.
In late September, 1960, twenty-one leaders of the KPRP held a secret congress in a vacant room of the Phnom Penh railroad station. This pivotal event remains shrouded in mystery because its outcome has become an object of contention (and considerable historical rewriting) between pro-Vietnamese and anti-Vietnamese Khmer communist factions. The question of cooperation with, or resistance to, Sihanouk was thoroughly discussed. Tou Samouth, who advocated a policy of cooperation, was elected general secretary of the KPRP that was renamed the Workers' Party of Kampuchea
(WPK). His ally, Nuon Chea
(also known as Long Reth), became deputy general secretary; however, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary were named to the Political Bureau to occupy the third and the fifth highest positions in the renamed party's hierarchy. The name change is significant. By calling itself a workers' party, the Cambodian movement claimed equal status with the Vietnam Workers' Party
. The pro-Vietnamese regime of the People's Republic of Kampuchea
(PRK) implied in the 1980s
that the September 1960 meeting was nothing more than the second congress of the KPRP.
On July 20
, Tou Samouth was murdered by the Cambodian government. In February 1963
, at the WPK's second congress, Pol Pot was chosen to succeed Tou Samouth as the party's general secretary. Tou's allies, Nuon Chea and Keo Meas
, were removed from the Central Committee and replaced by Son Sen
and Vorn Vet
. From then on, Pol Pot and loyal comrades from his Paris student days controlled the party center, edging out older veterans whom they considered excessively pro-Vietnamese.
In July 1963, Pol Pot and most of the central committee left Phnom Penh to establish an insurgent base in Rotanokiri
(Ratanakiri) Province in the northeast. Pol Pot had shortly before been put on a list of thirty four leftists who were summoned by Sihanouk to join the government and sign statements saying Sihanouk was the only possible leader for the country. Pol Pot and Chou Chet were the only people on the list who escaped. All the others agreed to cooperate with the government and were afterward under 24-hour watch by the police.
From enemy to ally: Sihanouk and the GRUNK
The region Pol Pot and the others moved to was inhabited by tribal minorities, the Khmer Loeu
, whose rough treatment (including resettlement and forced assimilation) at the hands of the central government made them willing recruits for a guerrilla struggle. In 1965
, Pol Pot made a visit of several months' duration to North Vietnam and China. He probably received some training in China, which must have enhanced his prestige when he returned to the WPK's liberated areas. Despite friendly relations between Sihanouk and the Chinese, the latter kept Pol Pot's visit a secret from Sihanouk. In September 1966
, the party changed its name in secret to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). The change in the name of the party was a closely guarded secret. Lower ranking members of the party and even the Vietnamese were not told of it and neither was the membership until many years later. The party leadership endorsed armed struggle against the government, then led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk
. In 1967, several small-scale attempts at insurgency were made by the CPK but they had little success.
, the Khmer Rouge forces launched a national insurgency
across Cambodia. Though North Vietnam had not been informed of the decision, its forces provided shelter and weapons to the Khmer Rouge after the insurgency started. Vietnamese support for the insurgency made it impossible for the Cambodian military to effectively counter it. For the next two years the insurgency grew as Sihanouk did very little to stop it. As the insurgency grew stronger, the party finally openly declared itself to be the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK).
The political appeal of the Khmer Rouge was increased as a result of the situation created by the removal of Sihanouk as head of state in 1970
. Premier Lon Nol
, with the support of the National Assembly, deposed Sihanouk. Sihanouk, in exile in Beijing
, made an alliance with the Khmer Rouge and became the nominal head of a Khmer Rouge-dominated government-in-exile (known by its French acronym, GRUNK
) backed by the People's Republic of China
. Sihanouk's popular support in rural Cambodia allowed the Khmer Rouge to extend its power and influence to the point that by 1973
it exercised de facto
control over the majority of Cambodian territory, although only a minority of its population. Many people in Cambodia who helped the Khmer Rouge against the Lon Nol government thought they were fighting for the restoration of Sihanouk.
When the U.S. Congress
suspended aid to Cambodia in 1973, the Khmer Rouge made sweeping gains in the country. By 1975, with the Lon Nol government running out of ammunition, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the government would collapse. On April 17
the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh
The ideology of the Khmer Rouge evolved over time. In the early days, it was an orthodox communist party and looked to the Vietnamese Communists for guidance. It became more Stalinist
and anti-intellectual when groups of students who had been studying in France
returned to Cambodia. The students, including future party leader Pol Pot, had been heavily influenced by the example of the French Communist Party
(PCF). After 1960
, the Khmer Rouge developed its own unique political ideas. For example, contrary to most Marxist doctrine, the Khmer Rouge considered the farmers in the countryside to be the proletariat and the true representatives of the working class. By the 1970s
, the ideology of the Khmer Rouge combined its own ideas with the anti-colonialist
ideas of the French Communist Party
, which its leaders had acquired during their education in French universities in the 1950s. The Khmer Rouge leaders were also privately very resentful of what they saw as the arrogant attitude of the Vietnamese, and were determined to establish a form of communism very different to the Vietnamese model.
The Khmer Rouge in power
main|Democratic thumb|Photos of a genocide victims on display at the [Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
The leadership of the Khmer Rouge was largely unchanged between the 1960s and the mid-1990s
. The Khmer Rouge leaders were mostly from middle-class
families and had been educated at French universities
The Standing Committee of the Khmer Rouge's Central Committee ("Party Center") during its period of power consisted of:
(Saloth Sar) "Brother number 1" the effective leader of the movement, General Secretary
from 1963 until his death in 1998
"Brother number 2" Prime Minister (alive)
"Brother number 3" Deputy Prime Minister (Pol Pot's brother-in-law) (alive)
(Chhit Chhoeun) "Brother number 4" Final Khmer Rouge leader, Southwest Regional Secretary (died in custody awaiting trial for genocide
, July 21
"Brother number 5" President of the Khmer Rouge (alive)
Defense Minister (dead)
"Brother number 13" Former secretary of the Northern zone (dead)
In power, the Khmer Rouge carried out a radical program that included isolating the country from foreign influence, closing schools, hospitals and factories, abolishing banking
, outlawing all religions
, confiscating all private property
and relocating people from urban
areas to collective farm
s where forced labor was widespread. The purpose of this policy was to turn Cambodians into "New People" through agricultural labor. These actions resulted in massive deaths through executions, work exhaustion, illness, and starvation.
In Phnom Penh and other cities, the Khmer Rouge told residents
that they would be moved only about "two or three kilometers" outside the city and would return in "two or three days." Some witnesses say they were told that the evacuation was because of the "threat of American bombing" and that they did not have to lock their houses since the Khmer Rouge would "take care of everything" until they returned. These were not the first evacuations of civilian populations by the Khmer Rouge. Similar evacuations of population
s without possessions had been occurring on a smaller scale since the early 1970s.
The Khmer Rouge attempted to turn Cambodia into a classless society by depopulating cities and forcing the urban population into agricultural commune
s. The entire population was forced to become farmers in labour camp
s. During their four years in power, the Khmer Rouge overworked and starved the population, at the same time executing selected groups (including intellectuals
) and killing many others for even minor breaches of rules.
Cambodians were expected to produce three tons of rice per hectare; before the Khmer Rouge era, the average was only one ton per hectare. The Khmer Rouge forced people to work for 12 hours non-stop, without adequate rest or food. They did not believe in western medicine
but instead favoured traditional peasant medicine; many died as a result. Family
relationships not sanctioned by the state were also banned, and family members could be put to death for communicating with each other. In any case, family members were often relocated to different parts of the country with all postal and telephone services abolished. The total lack of agricultural
knowledge by the former city dwellers made famine
inevitable. Rural dwellers were often unsympathetic or too frightened to assist them. Such acts as picking wild fruit or berries was seen as "private enterprise
" for which the death penalty applied.
The Khmer language
has a complex system of usages to define speakers' rank and social status. During the rule of the Khmer Rouge, these usages were abolished. People were encouraged to call each other 'friend' or 'comrade
' (Khmer: miet
), and to avoid traditional signs of deference such as bowing or folding the hands in salutation, known as samphea
. Language was transformed in other ways. The Khmer Rouge invented new terms. People were told to 'forge' (Khmer: lot dam
) a new revolutionary character, that they were the 'instruments' (Khmer: opokar
) of the ruling body known as 'Angkar' (pronounced ahngkah; meaning 'The Organization'), and that nostalgia for prerevolutionary times (Khmer: choeu stek arom
, or 'memory sickness') could result in execution. Also, rural terms like Mae
(mother) replaced urban terms like Mak
Many Cambodians crossed the border into Thailand
to seek asylum
. From there, they were transported to refugee camps
such as Khao-I-Dang
, the only camp allowing resettlement in countries such as the United States
, and Australia
Killings and torturethumb|killing fields
">[Choeung Ek killing fields
The Khmer Rouge government arrested, torture
d and eventually executed anyone suspected of belonging to several categories of supposed "enemies":
*anyone with connections to the former government or with foreign governments
s and intellectuals - in practice this included almost everyone with an education
, or even people wearing glasses (which, in regime logic, suggested that they read a lot)
*ethnic Vietnamese, Cambodian Christians
and the Buddhist monk
" for which many of the former urban dwellers (who had not starved to death in the first place) were deemed to be guilty of by virtue of their lack of agricultural ability.
Today, examples of the torture methods used by the Khmer Rouge can be seen at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
. The museum occupies the former grounds of a high school
turned prison camp
that was operated by Khang Khek Leu
, more commonly known as "Comrade Duch". Some 17,000 people passed through this centre before they were taken to sites (also known as The Killing Fields
), outside Phnom Penh such as Choeung Ek
where most were executed (mainly by pickaxes to save bullets) and buried in mass grave
s. Of the thousands who entered the Tuol Sleng Centre (also known as S-21), only seven are known to have survived.
Number of deathsthumb|300px|Number of inhabitants between 2001
in thousands. Note the decrease during the Khmer Rouge years (1975-1979). FAO Data, Demographics of Cambodia">[1961 and 2001
in thousands. Note the decrease during the Khmer Rouge years (1975-1979). FAO Data, Demographics of Cambodia]
The exact number of people who died as a result of the Khmer Rouge's policies is debated as is the cause of death among those who died. Access to the country during Khmer Rouge rule and during Vietnamese rule was very limited. The Vietnamese-installed regime that succeeded the Khmer Rouge claimed that 3.3 million had died. Neither CIA
reports nor Vietnamese claims are considered credible sources by modern historians. While modern research has located mass graves from the Khmer Rouge era all over Cambodia, the causes of death of the people in the graves is open to dispute and interpretation. Contemporary estimates of executions range from 250,000 to 1,500,000.
| last = Sharp
| first = Bruce
| title = Counting Hell: The Death Toll of the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia
| date = 2005-04-01
| url = http://www.mekong.net/cambodia/deaths.htm
| accessdate = 2006-07-05
The United States Department of State
and the State Department funded Yale Cambodian Genocide Project give estimates of the total death toll as 1.2 million and 1.7 million respectively. Amnesty International
gives estimates of the total death toll as 1.4 million. R. J. Rummel
, an analyst of historical political killings, gives a figure of 2 million. Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot
gave a figure of 800,000. Khieu Samphan
said 1 million had died.
Fall of the Khmer Rouge
In December 1978, after several years of border conflict as well as a flood of refugees
into Vietnam, Pol Pot, afraid of being attacked by Vietnam, made a preemptive assault by invading Vietnam and looting villages that were close to the Cambodian border. Since the beginning of Pol Pot's rule, the Soviet Union
ceased all aid to Cambodia, because of its anti-Soviet, anti-Vietnamese stance. Without the Soviet support, China and the United States came to aid the Khmer regime. As a result of this aggression, Vietnamese troops stopped the Cambodian advance and invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh
on January 7, 1979 and deposing the Khmer Rouge regime. Despite Cambodians' traditional fear of Vietnamese domination, the Vietnamese invaders were assisted by the defections of Khmer Rouge activists, who formed the core of the post-Khmer Rouge government. The older government was dissolved and a new pro-Vietnamese puppet government was installed. The new government was mainly filled with Khmer Rouge members who opposed and survived Pol Pot's tyranny. The Khmer Rouge retreated to the west and continued to control an area near the Thai border for the next decade, unofficially protected by elements of the Thai Army
and funded by smuggled diamonds and timber.
Despite their removal from power in Cambodia, the KR retained their seat at the UN
. The seat was occupied by Thiounn Prasith an old cadre of Pol Pot & Ieng Sary from their student days in Paris and one of the 21 antendees at the 1960 KPRP Second Congress. The seat was retained under the name 'Democratic Kampuchea' until 1982 and then 'Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea' until 1993.
The People's Republic of China
launched a punitive invasion of northern Vietnam. During the 1980s
, the U.S. gave military
support to the republican KPNLF
and royalist ANS
insurgent groups. The Khmer Rouge, still led by Pol Pot and the most capable militarily of the three rebel
groups, received extensive military aid from China and intelligence
from the Thai military. While eastern and central Cambodia were firmly under the control of Vietnam and its Cambodian allies by 1980
, the western part of the country continued to be a battlefield through the 1980s, with millions of landmines
sown across the countryside.
Pol Pot relinquished his Khmer Rouge leadership post to Khieu Samphan
, but he continued to be the driving force behind the Khmer Rouge insurgency, giving speeches to his followers. Some journalists http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/june97/cambodia_6-18.html
commented that despite the international community's near-universal condemnation of the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule, a sizable number of Cambodians in KR-controlled areas seemed to genuinely support Pol Pot.
After a decade of inconclusive conflict, all Cambodian political factions signed a treaty in 1991 calling for elections and disarmament. But, in 1992
the Khmer Rouge resumed fighting, and the following year, rejected the results of the elections. There was a mass defection
in 1996, when around half the remaining soldiers (about 4,000) left. Factional fighting in 1997
led to Pol Pot's trial and imprisonment by the Khmer Rouge itself. Pol Pot died in April 1998, and Khieu Samphan surrendered in December. On December 29
the remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologised for the deaths in the 1970s. By 1999, most members had surrendered or been captured. In December 1999
, Ta Mok
and the remaining leaders surrendered and the Khmer Rouge effectively ceased to exist. Most of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders live in the Pailin
area or are hidden in Phnom Penh.
Recovery and trials
Since 1990 Cambodia has gradually recovered, demographic
ally and economically, from the Khmer Rouge regime, although the psychological scars affect many Cambodian families and émigré
communities. Although the current government teaches about Khmer Rouge atrocities in the schools, Cambodia has a very young population and by 2005
three-quarters of Cambodians were too young to remember the Khmer Rouge years. The younger generations would only know the Khmer Rouge through word-of-mouth from parents and elders.
In 1997, Cambodia established a Khmer Rouge Trial Task Force to create a legal and judicial structure to try the remaining leaders for war crimes
and other crimes against humanity
, but progress was slow, mainly because the Cambodian government of ex-Khmer Rouge cadre Hun Sen
, despite its origins in the Vietnamese-backed regime of the 1980s, was reluctant to bring the Khmer Rouge leaders to trial. Fundinernment said that due to the poor economy and other financial commitments, it could only afford limited funding for the tribunal. Several countries, including India
, came forward with extra funds, but by January, 2006
, the full balance of funding was not yet in place.
Nonetheless, the task force began its work and took possession of two buildings on the grounds of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces
(RCAF) High Command headquarters
province just on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The tribunal task force
expects to spend the rest of 2006 training the judges and other tribunal members before the actual trial is to take place.
| title = The Khmer Rouge Trial Task Force
| publisher = Government of Cambodia
| url = http://www.cambodia.gov.kh/krt/english/
| accessdate = 2006-07-05
In March 2006 the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan
, nominated seven judges for a trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders.
In May 2006 Justice Minister
Ang Vong Vathana announced that Cambodia's highest judicial body approved 30 Cambodian and U.N.
judges to preside over the long-awaited genocide
tribunal for surviving Khmer Rouge leaders. The judges were sworn in early July, with trials expected to start mid-2007.
[cite news | title=Judges sworn in for Khmer Rouge | date=July 3, 2006 | publisher=BBC News | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/5140032.stm |accessdate =2006-07-03 ]
Linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky
along with Edward Herman
, and senior historian Michael Vickery argued in the late 1970s that the U.S. media exaggerated the number of deaths incurred in the initial revolutionary phase as part of a broader propaganda
campaign to deflect criticism and scrutiny of U.S. military involvement in Indo-China
. Chomsky and Herman first articulated the view in the article Distortions at Fourth Handhttp://www.zmag.org/zmag/articles/chombookrev.htm
, and later expanded the position in the book, After the Cataclysm: The Political Economy of Human Rights Volume . In a letter to the editor of the Harvard International Review historian Michael Vickery wrote that "writing as one of the three or four most experienced students of recent Cambodian history who have carried out extensive interviewing of Cambodians who lived through the Pol Pot years, I find that Chomsky and Herman were fully justified in their skepticism of mainline propaganda, and that little in the Cambodia section of their book requires revision in the light of more recent information - on the contrary, their approach is for the most part validated by careful analysis of the much larger body of material available today." http://www.radioislam.org/totus/CGCF/file36Vickery.html Chomsky and Herman argued that mainstream Western reports were ignoring the impact of U.S. bombing of Cambodia during the years leading up the revolution. In an article in the Walrus Magazine (25 Sept 06) Ben Kiernan, director of the Cambodia Genocide Project, and Taylor Owen wrote that recent evidence reveals that Cambodia was bombed by the U.S. far more heavily than previously believed. They conclude that "the impact of this bombing, the subject of much debate for the past three decades, is now clearer than ever. Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d’état in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide." http://www.walrusmagazine.com/u/register/?ref=history-bombs-over-cambodia On the other hand, Herman and Chomsky's views on Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge have been frequently criticized. Amateur historian Bruce Sharp's article "Averaging Wrong Answers: Noam Chomsky and the Cambodia Controversy" http://www.mekong.net/cambodia/chomsky.htm provides a critical perspective of Chomsky and Herman's account.
A group of supporters of the Khmer Rouge, called "Group for the Study of the Theories of Pol Pot" was established in Cambodia in 2002. It now claims to have members in America, Europe and several parts of Asia.
It has published several pamplets in the Khmer language, as well as some in the English language.
Its website contains a number of documents related to the Khmer Rouge translated into English.
According to the group, the claims of genocide against the Khmer Rouge are false, and were created by enemies of Cambodia. They also argue that Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge was the closest thing to a perfect society in human history.
For this reason, they seek to "understand the ideology of Brother Number 1, so that they can be used to achieve Year Zero on world scale".
*http://countrystudies.us/cambodia/ Country Studies: Cambodia (Public Domain text) Accessed 8 February 2005
*http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/khmeryears/angka.html KR Years: The faces of Angka Accessed 5 February 2005
**http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/khmeryears/fall.html KR Year: The fall Accessed 8 February 2005
*http://www.yale.edu/cgp/kr.html Yale University: Cambodian Genocide Program Accessed 5 February 2005
*http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/GD14Ae03.html Asia Times Online: "Rouge Justice" Accessed 16 April 2005
*http://www.websitesrcg.com/border/index.html Thai/Cambodia Border Refugee Camps 1975-1999 Accessed 16 April 2005
*http://www.infoplease.com/spot/khmer2.html Infoplease: Khmer Rouge Accessed 5 February 2005
*http://www.thehistorynet.com/vn/blkhmer_rouge/index2.html HistoryNet: Losing Ground to Khmer Rouge Accessed 6 February 2005
*http://www.dccam.org/ Documentation Center of Cambodia Accessed 6 February 2005
*http://www.mekong.net/cambodia/uniq_rev.htm Mekong: The Khmer Ruge in Cambodia Accessed 7 February 2005
*http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=4099 MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base Accessed 8 February 2005
*http://members.tripod.com/~fantasian/pdk.html Party of Democratic Kampuchea Accessed 8 February 2005
*http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761570298_9____28/Cambodia.html MSN Encarta
* Chigas, George (2000). http://www.asiaquarterly.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=61&Itemid=5 "Building a Case Against the Khmer Rouge: Evidence from the Tuol Sleng and Santebal Archives". Harvard Asia Quarterly 4 (1) 44-49.
*A figure of three million deaths between 1975 and 1979 was given by the Vietnamese-sponsored Phnom Penh regime
*http://geocities.com/groupstpp/ Group for the Study of the Theories of Pol Pot
Among the very few western scholars who know the Khmer language and have published works about Cambodia are Ben Kiernan, David P. Chandler and Michael Vickery. Nayan Chanda, the Indochina correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review, is also very familiar with this period (through personal reporting, including many interviews with principals).
*Donald Puckridge: 2004. The Burning of the Rice. (Sid Harta Publishers 2004). ISBN 1-877059-73-0. pp326. http://sidharta.com/books/index.jsp?uid=67
*Elizabeth Becker: When the War Was over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution
*Nayan Chanda, Brother Enemy: The War After the War (Collier, New York, 1986) (very comprehensively footnoted)
*David P. Chandler: A History of Cambodia (Westview Press 2000); ISBN 0-8133-3511-6.
*David P. Chandler: Brother Number One: A Political Biography (Westview Press 1999); ISBN 813335108 Please check ISBN|813335108 (too .
*David P. Chandler: Facing the Cambodian past: Selected essays, 1971-1994 (Silkworm Books 1996); ISBN 974-7047-74-8.
*David P. Chandler, Ben Kiernan etc.: Revolution and Its Aftermath in Kampuchea: Eight Essays (Yale University Press 1983); ISBN 0-938692-05-4.
*Evan Gottesman: Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge: Inside the politics of Nation Building
*Henry Kamm: Cambodia: Report from a Stricken Land
*Ben Kiernan: The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79; ISBN 0-300-09649-6.
*Ben Kiernan: How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930-1975 (Yale University Press, Second Edition 2004); ISBN 0-300-10262-3.
*Sharon May and Frank Stewart: In the Shadow of Angkor: Contemporary Writing from Cambodia
*Haing Ngor and Roger Warner: Survival in the Killing Fields
*Dith Pran (compiled by): Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors
*William Shawcross: Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia
*Jon Swain: River of Time; ISBN 0-425-16805-0.
*Loung Ung: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
*Chanrithy Him: When Broken Glass Floats
*Michael Vickery: Cambodia 1975-1982
*Carol Wagner: Soul Survivors: Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia
*Tuol Sleng Museum
*Dap Prampi Mesa Chokchey
*http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/ From Sideshow to Genocide - A history of the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge, including survivor stories.
*http://jim.com/canon.htm The Khmer Rouge Canon 1975-1979: The Standard Total Academic View on Cambodia
*http://hotzone.yahoo.com/b/hotzone/blogs7499 The Killing Field - Kevin Sites
*http://www.yale.edu/cgp/ Yale University: Cambodian Genocide Program
*http://www.yale.edu/gsp/publications/KiernanRevised1.pdf "The Demography of Genocide: Cambodia and East Timor" (Critical Asian Studies, 35:4, 2003) in .pdf format
*http://www.cybercambodia.com/dachs/ Digital Archive of Cambodian Holocaust Survivors
*http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/index.html PBS Frontline/World: Pol Pot's Shadow
*http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP4.HTM Calculations for Cambodian genocide figures
*http://www.btinternet.com/~andy.brouwer/vannnath.htm Cambodia Tales: Khmer Rouge torture and killing paintings
* http://montages.blogspot.com/2005/04/privatizing-mass-grave-in-cambodia.html "Privatizing a Mass Grave in Cambodia"
*http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DemocraticKampuchea/ Democratic Kampuchea (it's a Yahoo Group for the ideological reclamation of Pol Pot)
*http://www.edwebproject.org/seasia/killingfields.html A Day in the Killing Fields - 1997 travel essay by http://www.andycarvin.com Andy Carvin
*http://www.cambodiangenocide.org/hopes_fears_genocide_bp.htm Genocide of Cham Muslims
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