21863: French Protectorate Cambodians are descendents of the Angkor Empire which was at itspeak during the 10th-13thcentury. But with attacksfrom present day Thailandand Viet Nam the empiredeclined. Soon after, theKing placed Cambodiaunder French rule andbecame part of FrenchIndochina in 1887.
31941: A New King When Norodom passed away in 1904, the throne was not passed onto his sons but tohis brother Sisowath.Sisowath ruled until 1941when Norodom Sihanoukbecomes king. Also duringthis time, Cambodia isoccupied by Japan duringWWII. With a new king,Cambodians felt that theyshould not be under controlby the French anymore.
41953: Independence In 1946, the French granted Cambodia self governmentwith the French Union. Aconstitution was drawn up in1947 and a treaty was signedin 1949 making Cambodia anassociated state with France.However, King NorodomSihanouk wanted completeindependence and wasawarded it in 1953.
51955-1960: The Ins and Outs In 1955, King Norodom Sihanouk abdicates histhrone and gives it to hisfather to rule. NorodomSihanouk seeks a politicalcareer and becomes apremier. However, hisfather passes away in 1960and his mother, QueenKossamak Nearireak takesover. Later, NorodomSihanouk becomes kingagain.
61970: Take Your Sides Throughout the Viet Nam war, Sihanouk remained neutral toboth sides. He allowed North VietNam to use Cambodian ports andallowed the US to bomb Viet Conghideouts in Cambodia. However,the Cambodians grew discontentwith this. While Sihanouk wasabroad, General Lon Nol led amilitary coup to overthrowSihanouk.
71975: Year Zero In 1975, the Khmer Rouge led by Pot Pot overthrew Lon Nol and took over Cambodia. Herenames Cambodia as Kampuchea. Theybelieved that Cambodians will be laborersworking on a one federation of collective farms.The Khmer Rouge wanted to get rid of anyintellectuals, educated people and anybodyagainst their ideas and communism. Hundredsof thousands of the educated middle-classes aretortured and executed in special centers. Othersstarve, or die from disease or exhaustion. Thetotal death toll during the next three years isestimated to be at least 1.7 million.
81979: Vietnamese Invasion In 1978, Viet Nam decided to invade Cambodia and takecontrol of the country. TheVietnamese overthrew the KhmerRouge and drove them to theThai jungles. The Vietnamesetried to install a puppetgovernment and reconstruct thecountry. However, Pol Pot’sregime destroyed the land,ruined the economy and he killedall of the potential intellectualsthat could have jumpstarted thecountry again.
91985: Starting Over While the Khmer Rouge hid in the Thai jungles, the US weregiving them help. The KhmerRouge continued to fight VietNam to gain control ofCambodia again. In 1985, HunSen was elected as primeminister, and peace talksimmediately began. In 1989,Viet Nam withdrew its lasttroops out of Cambodia.
101991: Peace? In 1991, a peace treaty was signed by all opposing parties. However, thetreaty called for all groupsto be disarmed and theKhmer Rouge refused.With that, Sihanoukdenounced the KhmerRouge and aligned himselfwith Hun Sen. NorodomSihanouk again becameHead of state.
111993: Democratic Elections In 1993, the first everDemocratic elections were held.The Royalist FUNCINPEC partywon the most seats and HunSen’s Cambodian People's Partycame in second. A coalitiongovernment is formed withFUNCINPEC's Prince NorodomRanariddh as prime ministerand Hun Sen as deputy primeminister. The monarchy isrestored, and Sihanoukbecomes king again.
121997: Only One Can Rule The coalition government of Norodom Ranariddh and HunSen was crumbling. Hun Senset up a coup and replacedRanariddh with Ung Huot.The coup delayed Cambodia’smembership with ASEAN.Also, in 1997, the KhmerRouge was falling apart andPol Pot was imprisoned. Helater died in 1998.
132001: Justice Begins In 2001, the Cambodian Senate approved a law whichcreated a tribunal. Thiswould allow the Khmer Rougeleaders to be tried for theirwar crimes. With theJapanese financiallysupporting the tribunal,justice can be served.
142004: Like Father, Like Son In October 2004, King Norodom Sihanouk abdicatedhis throne in favor of his son.A nine member councilelected Norodom Sihamonito the throne a week later.King Norodom Sihamoni isthe reigning king today.
152005: The Green Light The tribunal had encountered many problems. There were nofunds going towards itand the Khmer Rougeleaders were getting old.Some feared that theymight die before beingtried. However in 2005,The UN gave the greenlight to start thetribunal.
162007: Justice is Served In 2007, trials began for the most notorious leaders of the KhmerRouge. Nuon Chea wasarrested in Septemberand is being tried forhis crimes. And inNovember, the tribunalholds its first publichearing with ComradeDuch.