Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Cambodia 1975-1979

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Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Cambodia 1975-1979 by Mind Map: Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Cambodia 1975-1979

1. Movements

1.1. Rise to Power

1.2. Killing and Torture

1.2.1. Anyone who was suspected of being part of Lon Nol’s regime was arrested, laboured and tortured. They were also executed as traitors of Cambodia. Western educated Cambodians that were deemed intellectuals and had connections with overseas governments or had professional occupations were also arrested and tortured. All of the victims of the Khmer Rouge were ethnic Vietnamese, Cambodian Christians, Muslims and Buddhist monkshood were targets of persecution. For the Khmer religion did not go hand in hand with their branch of Communism. They deemed all foreign influence needed to be dispelled immediately. All the victims were herded together to an inspection centre where they would be either sent to work in communes of killed instantly in mass graves. They were transported to sites outside of Phnom Penh, where the victims were made to dig large pits and stand inside as they were either shot or buried alive. As no proper records were kept of these mass murder, historians continue to debate the exact death toll or for that matter who was targeted.

1.2.2. Unlike the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge was not a disciplined and organized party of power but still managed to replicate the German genocide in Asia. Nobody even knows what principles and ideologies that the Khmer Rouge actually stood for apart from the fact that they prided themselves on being a passionate nationalist organization with an innate hatred for the Vietnamese who they deemed to be the greatest enemies of the Cambodian people. In 1962, the last census before Cambodia was engulfed by war, the population of the country was 5.7 million. A decade later, in 1972, the population was estimated at 7.1 million. Using Amnesty International's figure of 1.4 million deaths, about 20 percent of the population would have died between 1975 and 1978. This is the largest amount of people killed in genocide ever. Even during the Nazi regime, the 5 million that were exterminated made up less than 3% of the Third Reich.

1.3. Fall of the Khmer Rouge

1.3.1. By the end of 1977, conflicts broke out between Cambodia and Vietnam. Tens of thousands of people were sent to fight and thousands were killed. In December 1978, Vietnamese troops fought their way into Cambodia. They captured Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979. The Khmer Rouge leaders then fled to the west and re-established their forces in Thai territory, aided by China and Thailand.

1.4. S-21

1.4.1. The site is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. Tuol Sleng means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill". Tuol Sleng was only one of at least 150 execution centers in the country, and as many as 20,000 prisoners there were killed.

2. Cause and Effects

2.1. Cambodia had been governed by a monarchy led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Sihanouk has taken to being ambivalent to the chaos and anarchy that was happening across the border in Vietnam between the USA and the Communist forces in Vietnam.

2.2. Lon Nol now faced enemies in the form of the Communists and the Khmer Rouge, and had to depend on America for financial aid to help build his country's economy and maintain political stability. This however was impeded by American bombings in Cambodia as they tried to kill Communist base camps everywhere in Indochina. The bombings claimed the lives of many innocent Cambodians and many in the rural areas fell victim to these bombings. This as such led many to believe that General Lon Nol was not doing enough for Cambodia if they too were being drawn into the fight between the United States and Vietnam. Historians thus speculate this to be why many eventually were drawn to the Khmer Rouge's propaganda and supported them. Sihanouk was deemed to be part of the Khmer Rouge. Since he was in exile in Beijing, this fact was not clarified, though many Cambodians revealed that they had thought Sihanouk to be part of them which was why they pledged support for the Khmer Rouge.

2.3. "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." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Rouge)

3. Leaders

3.1. Pol Pot

3.1.1. Pol Pot, born in Cambodia as Solath Sar, spent time in France and became a member of the French Communist Party. Upon returning to Cambodia in 1953, he joined a clandestine communist movement and began his rise up the ranks to become one of the world's most infamous dictators

3.2. Pol Pots ideology: Money, private property, education and religion were abolished and Cambodia's towns and cities were emptied as the population was forced into massive, unworkable agricultural collectives. Opponents of the ultimate aim of restoring Cambodia's medieval greatness were deemed enemies of the state and dealt with accordingly.

3.3. General Ta Mok

3.3.1. After the regime was overthrown in 1979, Ta Mok remained a powerful figure, controlling the northern area of the Khmer Rouge's remaining territory from his base at Anlong Veng in the Dângrêk Mountains. It is estimated that some 3,000 to 5,000 combatants remained loyal to Pol Pot and were directed by Ta Mok.

4. Ideologies

4.1. Communist - A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. (The Free Dictionary)

4.2. The Khmer revolution was perhaps the most pernicious in history; reversing class order, destroying all markets, banning private property and money. It is one worth studying for the ages, not for what it accomplished, but for what it destroyed.

5. Economic, Political, Social & Cultural

5.1. It has only been a little more of twenty years since the Khmer Rouge were disposed of power by the Vietnamese. Sadly the Khmer Rouge’s legacy of death, starvation and suffering lives on across Cambodia. The visibility of piles of skulls and boned across the countries, which are still being discovered each week. Countless unexploded land mines remain and the psychological problems suffered by many who cannot forget the terror they saw. Cambodia may have physically and economically attempeted to recover but still suffere the psychological trauma of the past.

5.2. The socialist democratic government of Cambodia is ruled by Prime Minister Hun Sen and has offered defectors of the Khmer Rouge “immunity from persecution provided they made public apologies and agreed to pledge allegiance to his government” The Khmer rouge commanders have become senior officals in the current Cambodian government despite their obvious inhumane actions. This was not a case of justice but a political strategy. The government has made it such that blame for the genocide be pinned to top leaders of the Khmer Rouge and since Pol Pot is dead, General Ta Mok is held accountable for most of the blame whilst most of the other officials have escaped free.

5.3. It then seems unfair to the murdered Cambodians to have no justice served to them, the world has rarely even been told that Cambodia ever had a genocide. Even the UN, the international body of peace, has done nothing concrete to uphold its role as a defender of human rights especially amongst the oppressed and downtrodden. Further sections in this project will reveal whether justice was ever served, how the international community reacted to this massacre, and if it was in any way parallel to the Holocaust.