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Sources: pacific/7002629.stm /index.html ~The Khmer Rouge was the ruling.

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Presentation on theme: "Sources: pacific/7002629.stm /index.html ~The Khmer Rouge was the ruling."— Presentation transcript:


2 Sources: pacific/7002629.stm /index.html ~The Khmer Rouge was the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, but during this short time it was responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th Century ~The brutal regime claimed the lives of more than a million people - and some estimates say up to 2.5 million perished

3  On April 17, 1975, thousands of Phnom Penh residents celebrated in the streets as victorious Khmer Rouge troops entered the capital  This joyous celebration, however, was not because the people of Phnom Penh were supporters of the Khmer Rouge; instead, they felt great relief that the five-year civil war had now come to an end  For the first several hours of that sunny morning it didn't matter which side you were on - Cambodia was finally at peace  This morning revealed a moment of hope

4  But hope quickly turned to fear as residents noticed that the Khmer Rouge troops weren't celebrating with them  Embittered and toughened after years of brutal civil war and American bombing, the Khmer Rouge marched the boulevards of Phnom Penh with icy stares carved into their faces

5  The troops soon began to order people to abandon their homes and leave Phnom Penh  By mid-afternoon hundreds of thousands of people were on the move  "The Americans are going to bomb the city!" was the answer given to residents if they asked why they had to leave Phnom Penh  No exceptions were made - all residents, young and old, had to evacuate as quickly as possible

6  In order to create the ideal communist society, all people would have to live and work in the countryside as peasants  Peasants, in fact, were the Khmer Rouge communist ideal  Peasants were seen as simple, uneducated, hard- working and not prone to exploiting others  It was this perception that caused the Khmer Rouge to view peasants - old people, to use their political jargon - as the ideal communists for the new Cambodian state

7  The Khmer Rouge felt that new people had made an active choice to live in the cities and thus declared their allegiance to capitalism  All city dwellers became enemies of the new communist state, a status that would cost hundreds of thousands of them their lives

8  One of the main goals behind resettling urban residents into the countryside was to build a new Cambodia focused on agricultural success: "to build socialism in the fields," as it was once suggested (Chandler, History of Cambodia, 214)  Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge leadership developed a "four-year plan" in which Cambodians were expected to produce an average national yield of 3 metric tons of rice per hectare (1.4 tons per acre)  But even during pre-Khmer Rouge, peacetime Cambodia, the average national yield was only one metric ton of rice per hectare

9  To meet these new demands on rice production the Khmer Rouge enforced strict policies where workers labored in the fields for 12 hours a day without adequate rest or food  Many new people lacked any experience in manual labor and became ill and died, since the Khmer Rouge favored the traditional medicine of the peasants and hill tribes over modern western medicine

10  Those new people who survived but were not well enough to work often vanished: after being taken away to a distant field or forest, they would be forced to dig their own graves before Khmer Rouge soldiers would bludgeon them on the back of the head with a shovel or hoe  It didn't matter whether the blow killed them or not; either way the victims were buried on the spot and left to die a suffocating death

11  Many Cambodians soon discovered that hard work wasn't necessarily enough to keep them alive  "Keeping new people is no benefit," so the Khmer Rouge slogan went; "Losing them is no loss." The lives of new people were seen as having little to no value, so even the most minor infraction was enough reason to get sent to a killing field  For example, foraging for extra food was a capital offense, despite the fact that the Khmer Rouge's daily food allowance was so low it would cause hundreds of thousands of people to starve to death

12  These new rules for life in Kampuchea were being imposed by Angka ("The Organization"), the secretive team of Khmer Rouge leaders who dictated the lives of every Cambodian citizen

13  Angka banned family relationships and often took advantage of children, molding them into fanatical communists  Young children were seen as being pure and untainted by capitalism and family influence  From an early age children were propagandized and brainwashed to believe in nothing but Angka - even their parents might become their worst enemies

14  And because family relationships were now banned (for parents exploited their children, so the argument went), associating with a relative without the permission of Angka could get you killed  Khmer Rouge cadres would look for any excuse to kill new people  If you spoke French, you would die  If you were educated, you would die  If you wore glasses, you would die  If you practiced Buddhism, you would die

15  These incredibly harsh conditions limited one's options for survival  Most Cambodians submitted to each and every Khmer Rouge demand and hoped for the best  Those Cambodians who knew they could be labeled as an enemy (the educated, monks, government officials, business owners, etc.) had no choice but to cut off all ties to their past and pretend to be an illiterate peasant  If you could convince the Khmer Rouge you were one of the old people, you might survive, but if you were caught it would mean certain death

16  Families with connections to previous Cambodian governments were especially susceptible to ill treatment; while former soldiers and civil servants were usually summarily executed, their families were often forced to work themselves to death  Those who managed to survive for a time would eventually be charged as associate enemies of the state and sent to the killing fields

17  Among the Khmer Rouge’s new rules, religion, money and private ownership were all banned; communications with the outside world eliminated; family relationships dismantled  All previous rights and responsibilities were thrown out the window  As was often said by the Khmer Rouge, 2000 years of Cambodian history had now come to an end; April 17 was the beginning of Year Zero for the new Cambodia: Democratic Kampuchea (DK)

18  Under the Marxist leader Pol Pot, the social engineering of the Khmer Rouge had a terrible cost, and whole families died from execution, starvation, disease and overwork

19  Yet the Khmer Rouge had its origins in the 1960s, as the armed wing of the Communist Party of Kampuchea

20  Based in remote jungle and mountain areas in the northeast of the country, the group initially made little headway  But after a right-wing military coup toppled head of state Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970, the Khmer Rouge entered into a political coalition with him and began to attract increasing support

21  In a civil war that continued for nearly five years, the Khmer Rouge gradually increased its control in the countryside  Khmer Rouge forces finally took over the capital, Phnom Penh, and therefore the nation as a whole in 1975

22  During his time in the remote northeast of the country, Pol Pot had been influenced by the surrounding hill tribes, who were self-sufficient in their communal living, had no use for money and were "untainted" by Buddhism  When he came to power, he and his henchmen quickly set about transforming Cambodia into what they hoped would be an agrarian utopia

23  Pol Pot isolated his people from the rest of the world and set about emptying the cities, abolishing money, private property and religion, and setting up rural collectives

24  The Khmer Rouge government was finally overthrown in 1979 by invading Vietnamese troops, after a series of violent border confrontations  The higher echelons of the party retreated to remote areas of the country, where they remained active for a while but gradually became less and less powerful

25  The Khmer Rouge had always viewed Vietnam as its historical enemy  While both communist forces grudgingly supported each other as they fought U.S.-backed Cambodia and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, ethnic animosities prevented them from developing any lasting bonds with each other  Even as early as April 1975 - days after the fall of Phnom Penh - the Khmer Rouge exploited the situation in South Vietnam by seizing several small islands in the Gulf of Siam while the Vietnamese communists completed their choke hold on Saigon

26  Though one might have expected the new communist governments of Vietnam and Cambodia to eventually settle into some kind of political agreement, their hatred and mistrust of each other ran too deep  The Khmer Rouge received support from China, Vietnam's rival to the north, while the Vietnamese were assisted by the Soviet Union, which competed with China for standing in the communist world

27  By January 7, 1979, less than two weeks after their initial attack, Vietnamese forces successfully occupied Phnom Penh, forcing the Khmer Rouge to flee into the wilderness

28  Vietnamese occupying forces, who themselves were hardened by the brutalities of the Vietnam War, were shocked as they soon discovered the legacy of the Khmer Rouge  Throughout the countryside, Cambodia was pockmarked by sunken depressions of dirt, as if hell had sucked in small pockets of earth in the hopes of devouring the world above it

29  As was soon discovered, the depressions were indeed the stuff of hell, for each marked the spot of another mass grave: the graves of the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians slaughtered by their own countrymen

30  Pol Pot was denounced by his former comrades in a show trial in July 1997, and sentenced to house arrest in his jungle home  But less than a year later he was dead - denying the millions of people who were affected by this brutal regime the chance to bring him to justice

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