Presentation on theme: "Augugliaro/ Kempton/ Patten. In 1953 Cambodia gained independence from France after nearly 100 years of colonist rule. The population of Cambodia."— Presentation transcript:
In 1953 Cambodia gained independence from France after nearly 100 years of colonist rule. The population of Cambodia was just over 7 million people, almost all of whom were Buddhist. Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. It is less than half the size of California.
During the Vietnam War, Cambodia became a staging ground for battle between US troops and the Viet-Cong. From 1970-1974 as many as 750,000 Cambodian civilians died from U.S. B-52 bombings on suspected Viet-Cong villages.
The government of Cambodia in 1970-1974 was supporting the United States. Upset with the loss of Cambodian lives due to U.S. bombings, a communist group the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot fought to take power. With 700,000 men, and the support of the nation, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge took power in 1975.
Promised with images of hope and recovery, the people supported Pol Pot. However, in 1975 his extremist views of collectivization and communal labor were put in motion. All political and civil rights of the citizens were abolished. All religions were banned.
In order to create the “ideal communism” Pol Pot felt that all Cambodians must be peasant workers on collectives. All opposition was to be killed. All city dwellers and educated people were forced to wear blue scarves, so they can be targeted more easily. Survival was based on your ability to work. The elderly, young, ill, and handicapped were often executed immediately.
Under the threat of death, Cambodians nationwide were forced from the cities and their homes. People were sent to collectives and work camps. Children were separated from their parents and sent to separate work camps. Those who survived the purges and forced evacuations were sent to live in communes & work camps with little to no food or rest.
Pol Pot also created torture camps in which prisoners would be interrogated and beaten to death with iron bars and cement blocks. The Khmer Rouge would force civilians to dig their own graves and then beat them to death or buried them alive.
All doctors, professionals, educated people, government officials, and all who spoke foreign languages were targeted and killed. Due to conditions of slave labor, starvation, injury, and illness, many became unable to work. They were killed off by the Khmer Rouge. These collectives and mass graves became known as The Killing Fields. In total 1.7 million people were killed in 3 years. It was 25% of the total 7 million people who lived there.
In 1979, the Vietnamese took control of Cambodia when they invaded and forced Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge out of power. Even the Vietnamese were shocked when they came across the most infamous torture camp of the Khmer Rouge, S-21. Only 7 people are believed to have survived from this camp. Over 14,000 people were sent there.
Because Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were a communist regime, many western nations did not help. After the failure of Vietnam, the United States called their policy “willful neglect”. ◦ The US and UK actually supported the Khmer Rouge in the 1980’s in hope they would defeat the Vietnamese. During the Genocide there was no intervention from any country or the United Nations.
In 1991 a peace agreement was made making Buddhism the national religion forcing the Vietnamese out. In 1993 Cambodia held their first democratic elections. In 1994 the UN called for tribunals to charge those responsible for their crimes The trials only began in 2007. Pol Pot died in 1998, and most of his leaders also perished. Commander Duch, warden of S-21 has since been charged with crimes against humanity and genocidal actions. S-21 Footage