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CAMBODIAN OUTREACH PROGRAM I am studying the Cambodian war and how there is hardly any knowledge towards the Cambodian Khmer Rouge Genocide that took place in the early 1970s. I want to spread awareness in educating to what the war has caused to our modern society. There is only little education toward what people actually do know about the war and I want to promote education in a way where they know the history before and after. In addition to this I want to show people how Cambodia is still slowly picking from the aftermath of the genocide. Over the duration of two summers ago, I volunteered in Cambodia for the UN High Commissioner for Cambodian Refugees and they had asked me if to re-brand their organization. I was more than honored to be in such recognized organization and agreed to help them. They wanted me to re-brand the website, make an awareness video and whatever else I thought was necessary to promote awareness. This was my proposal.
EARLY HISTORY OF CAMBODIA
The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly known as Kampuchea, Khmer: is a country in Southeast Asia that borders Thailand to the west and northwest, Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east and southeast, and the Gulf of Thailand to the south .
BEFORE THE WAR
Preahreachanachâk Kampuchea means “Kingdom of Cambodia”. Etymologically, its components are: Preah- (“sacred”); -reach- (“king, royal, realm”, from Sanskrit); -ana- (from Pāli āṇā, “authority, command, power”, itself from Sanskrit ājñā, same meaning) -châk (from Sanskrit chakra, meaning “wheel”, a symbol of power and rule).
Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni as King . Phnom Penh is the kingdom’s capital and largest city, and is the principal center for the country’s economical, industrial, commerce and cultural center of Cambodia. Siem Reap, a city located near the famous ruins of Angkor Wat is the gateway to the Angkor region, and is Cambodia’s main destination for tourism. Battambang, the largest city in western Cambodia, is known for its rice production, Sihanoukville, a coastal city, is the primary sea port and beach resort. Cambodia has an area of approximately 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 sq mi) and a population of over 14 million ethnic Khmer. A citizen of Cambodia is usually identified as “Cambodian” or “Khmer”, though the latter strictly refers to ethnic Khmers. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham, as well as ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese and small animist hill tribes. Cambodia is the traditional English name, taken from the French Cambodge, while Kâmpchea , formerly the name of the country in English, it is the direct transliteration, more faithful to the Khmer pronunciation. The name used on formal occasions, such as political speeches and news programs, is Prâteh Kampuchea. Khmer is spelled with a final “r” in the Khmer alphabet, but the word-final “r” phoneme disappeared from most dialects of Khmer in the 19th century and is not pronounced in the contemporary speech of the standard dialect. Since original independence, the official name of Cambodia has changed several times, following the troubled history of the country. The following names have been used in English and French since 1954.
UTOPIA Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia in mid-1975. During his time in power, Pol Pot imposed a version of agrarian collectivization, forcing city dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects, toward a goal of “restarting civilization” in a “Year Zero”
Khmer Rouge evacuating families and children away from their homes on April 17th , 1979
IDEOLOGICAL UTOPIA The Khmer Rouge was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, the totalitarian ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan. The regime led by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979 was known as the Democratic Kampuchea. This organization is remembered primarily for its policy of social engineering and the genocide this caused. Its attempts at agricultural reform led to widespread famine, while its insistence on absolute self-sufficiency, even in the supply of medicine, led to the deaths of thousands from treatable diseases (such as malaria). Brutal and arbitrary executions and torture carried out by its cadres against perceived subversive elements, or during purges of its own ranks between 1976 and 1978, are considered to have constituted a genocide. Khmer Rouge means “Red Khmer” in French, the administrative language of colonial-era Cambodia (the Khmer people are the major ethnic group in Cambodia). The term was originally coined by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the Cambodian Head of State between 1955 and 1970, to describe the Cambodian left. Prior to their 1975 victory, the Khmer Rouge guerrilla forces were officially known as the Cambodian People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (CPNLAF). After the fall of Phnom Penh, they were renamed Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea (RAK). The clandestine Communist Party of Kampuchea itself constituted the secret leadership of the Khmer Rouge, as its official name was known only to a few insiders: it called itself the Angkar (the organization) and only announced officially its existence in 1977, almost two years after the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, the organization’s remaining guerrilla forces became known as the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea. In 1981 the party itself was dissolved, and substituted by the Party of Democratic Kampuchea.
YEAR ZERO In 1979, after the invasion of Cambodia by neighbouring Vietnam in the Cambodian窶天ietnamese War, Pol Pot fled into the jungles of southwest Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge government collapsed
Pol Pot adopted the Maoist idea that peasants were the true working class. In 1976, people were reclassified as full-rights (base) people, candidates and depositees - so called because they included most of the new people who had been deposited from the cities into the communes. Depositees were marked for destruction. Their rations were reduced to two bowls of rice soup, or “p’baw” per day.
According to François Ponchaud’s book Cambodia: Year Zero, “Ever since 1972 the guerrilla fighters had been sending all the inhabitants of the villages and towns they occupied into the forest to live and often burning their homes, so that they would have nothing to come back to.” The Khmer Rouge refused offers of humanitarian aid, a decision which proved to be a humanitarian catastrophe: millions died of starvation and brutal government-inflicted overwork in the countryside.
The city people were considered like a disease that needed to be contained so that it would not infect areas run by the Khmer Rouge. He also ordered a series of general purges. Former government officials, along with anyone with an education, were singled out in the purges. A set of new prisons was also constructed in Khmer Rouge run areas. The Cham minority attempted an uprising around this time against attempts to destroy their culture.
The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. As the leader of the Communist Party, Saloth Sar was the designated leader of the new regime. He took the name “brother number one” and declared his nom de guerre Pol Pot, from Politique potentielle, the French equivalent of a phrase supposedly coined for him by the Chinese leadership. A new constitution was adopted on January 5, 1976, officially altering the country’s name to “Democratic Kampuchea”.
“Since he is of no use anymore, there is no gain if he lives and no loss if he dies.”
The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. As the leader of the Communist Party, Saloth Sar was the designated leader of the new regime. He took the name “brother number one” and declared his nom de guerre Pol Pot, from Politique potentielle, the French equivalent of a phrase supposedly coined for him by the Chinese leadership. A new constitution was adopted on January 5, 1976, officially altering the country’s name to “Democratic Kampuchea”. The newlyestablished Representative Assembly held its first plenary meeting on April 11-13, electing a new government with Pol Pot as prime minister. His predecessor, Khieu Samphan was instead given the position of head of state as of the State Presidium. Prince Sihanouk was given no role in the government and was placed under detention. Immediately after the fall of Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge began to implement their concept of Year Zero and ordered the complete evacuation of Phnom Penh and all other recently captured major towns and cities. Those leaving were told that the evacuation was due to the threat of severe American bombing and it would last for no more than a few days. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge had been evacuating captured urban areas for many years, but the evacuation of Phnom Penh was unique in scale. The first operations to evacuate urban areas occurred in 1968 in the Ratanakiri area and were aimed at moving people deeper into Khmer Rouge territory to better control them. From 1971-1973, the motivation changed. Pol Pot and the other senior leaders were frustrated that urban Cambodians were retaining old habits of trade and business. When all other methods had failed, evacuation to the countryside was adopted to solve the problem.
Pol Pot adopted the Maoist idea that peasants were the true working class. In 1976, people were reclassified as full-rights (base) people, candidates and depositees - so called because they included most of the new people who had been deposited from the cities into the communes. Depositees were marked for destruction. Their rations were reduced to two bowls of rice soup, or “p’baw” per day. This led to widespread starvation. “New people” were allegedly given no place in the elections taking place on March 20, 1976, despite the fact the constitution was said to have established universal suffrage for all Cambodians over age 18. The Khmer Rouge leadership boasted over the state-controlled radio that only one or two million people were needed to build the new agrarian communist utopia. As for the others, as their proverb put it, “To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss.” Hundreds of thousands of the new people, and later the depositees, were taken out in shackles to dig their own mass graves. Then the Khmer Rouge soldiers beat them to death with iron bars and hoes or buried them alive. A Khmer Rouge extermination prison directive ordered, “Bullets are not to be wasted.” These mass graves are often referred to as The Killing Fields. The Khmer Rouge also classified by religion and ethnic group. They banned all religion and dispersed minority groups, forbidding them to speak their languages or to practice their customs. They especially targeted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Western-educated intellectuals, educated people in general, people who had contact with Western countries or with Vietnam, disabled people, and the ethnic Chinese, Laotians and Vietnamese.
“I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT EVER THING I DID, I DID FOR MY COUNTRY.”
The casualty list from the civil war, Pol Pot’s consolidation of power, and the later intervention by Vietnam is disputed. Different estimates vary from 750,000 to over two million. Credible Western and Eastern sources put the death toll inflicted by the Khmer Rouge at 1.6 million. A specific source, such as a figure of 3 million deaths between 1975 and 1979, was given by the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. François Ponchaud suggested 2.3 million, the Yale Cambodian Genocide Project estimates 1.7 million, Amnesty International estimated 1.4 million and the United States Department of State, 1.2 million. Milton Leitenberg estimated 2 million deaths, but noted that only 80,000 to 100,000 of these were directly killed
36 % 10 % 10 %
6.5 % 5.5 %
1960 1964 1969 1972 1979 each percentage represents how many people died in Cambodian based on a 100% ratio
OF THE WAR The leadership of the Khmer Rouge remained largely unchanged from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. The leaders were mostly from middle-class families and had been educated at French universities.
Saloth Sar (May 19, 1928– April 15, 1998), better known as Pol Pot, was the leader of the Cambodian communist movement known as the Khmer Rougeand was Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1976–1979. His time as the leader of Cambodia, in which he attempted to “cleanse” the country, resulted in the death of an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 million people. Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia in mid-1975.During his time in power, Pol Pot imposed a version of agrarian collectivization, forcing city dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects, toward a goal of “restarting civilization” in a “Year Zero”. In 1979, after the invasion of
combined effects of slave labor, malnutrition, poor medical care, and executions resulted in the deaths of approximately 21% of the Cambodian population. On March 30, 2009, Kaing Guek Eav, Khmer Rouge commandant of Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng prison and torture house, testified at the UNbacked Tribunal, that US policies in the 1970s contributed to the brutal regime’s rise to power..”I think the Khmer Rouge would already have been demolished,” he said of their status by 1970. “But Mr Kissinger (then US secretary of state) and Richard Nixon were quick [to back coup leader Gen Lon Nol], and then the Khmer Rouge noted the golden opportunity.” After another wave of
repression by Sihanouk in 1965, the Khmer Rouge movement under Saloth grew at a rapid rate. Many teachers and students left the cities for the countryside to join the movement. “Because of this alliance, the Khmer Rouge were able to build up their power over the course of their 1970-75 war against the Lon Nol regime, Duch said. In 1979, after the invasion of Cambodia by neighbouring Vietnam in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, Pol Pot fled into the jungles of southwest Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge government collapsed.
Noun Chea also known as Long Bunruot, (born July 7, 1926, Voat Kor, Battambang Province) is a retired Cambodian communist politician and former chief ideologist of Khmer Rouge. Nuon Chea was born as Lau Ben Kon (Chinese) at Voat Kor, Battambang in 1926. Nuon’s father, Lao Liv, worked as a trader as well as a corn farmer, while his mother, Dos Peanh was a tailor. Nuon Chea’s family was of Chinese-Khmer heritage;Lao Liv was of Chinese ethnicity while his mother was the daughter of a Chinese immigrant from Shantou and his Khmer wife. As a child, Nuon Chea was raised in both Chinese and Khmer customs. The family prayed at a Theravada Buddhist temple, but observed Chinese relig
ligious customs during the Lunar New Year and Qingming festival. Nuon Chea started school at seven, and was educated in Thai, French and Khmer. In the 1940s, Nuon Chea studied at Thammasat University in Bangkok and worked part-time for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He began his political activities in the Communist Party of Siam in Bangkok. He was elected Deputy General Secretary of the Workers Party of Kampuchea (later renamed as the Communist Party of Kampuchea) in September 1960. In Democratic Kampuchea, he was generally known as “Brother Number Two.” Unlike most of the leaders of Khmer Rouge, Chea did not study in Paris. As the recently-
state legislature, the Kampuchean People’s Representative Assembly held its first plenary session during April 11–13, 1976, Chea was elected President of its Standing Committee. He was forced to abandon this post along with all others as the Vietnamese captured Phnom Penh in January 1979. On December 29, 1998, following a bargain with the government, Chea surrendered as part of the last remnants of Khmer Rouge resistance and in a press conference after the deal expressed a terse statement of sorrow for the suffering of Cambodians.
Of Khmer ancestry on his father’s side, and Chinese ancestry on his mother’s, Ieng Sary was born in Chau Thanh, Tra Vinh province, southern Vietnam. Sary changed his name from the Vietnamese Kim Trang when he joined the Khmer Rouge. He is the brotherin-law by marriage, of the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot (real name: Saloth Sar). Sary and Saloth Sar studied at Phnom Penh’s Lycée Sisowath where their future wives, the sisters Khieu Thirith and Khieu Ponnary also studied. Before leaving Cambodia to study in Paris, Sary was engaged to Khieu Thirith. Sary and Saloth Sar also studied together in Paris. Whilst there, Sary rented an apartment in the Latin Quarter, a hot commu
nist of student radicalism. He and Saloth Sar met with French communist intellectuals, and formed their own cell of Cambodian communists.Sary and Khieu Thirith married in the town hall of Paris’ 15th arrondissement the summer of 1951 and Thirith took her husband’s name, becoming Ieng Thirith.proclaimed After returning to Cambodia, he was inducted into the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Kampuchea in September 1960. After the fall of the Khmer Republic on 17 April 1975, Sary made personal appeals to expatriates (the well-educated Cambodians who had survived the prison death camps, and had afterwards moved abroad and others who wanted to come back to
Cambodia homeland) to help rebuild Cambodia. However upon returning to Cambodia, they were arrested on arrival, and thrown into brutal detention centres.Together with Pol Poth, Ieng Sary was sentenced to death in absentia after the Khmer Rouge had been overthrown in 1979. The then Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk officially pardoned Ieng Sary in 1996.
The movement was estimated to consist of no more than 1500 regulars, but the core of the movement was supported by a number of villagers many times that size. While weapons were in short supply, the insurgency was still able to operate in twelve of nineteen districts of Cambodia. In the middle of the year Saloth called a party conference and decided on a change in propaganda strategy.
REGIME & PROPAGANDA
The human costs of this experiment were enormous, and are still being paid by survivors of the regime. Within a week of the Khmer Rouge â€˜liberationâ€™ of Phnom Penh in April 1975, its population was driven into the countryside en masse to begin establishing a collectivised agricultural system. Thousands of people died on the way. Within a month, towns, private property, markets and money were abandoned; law-courts, government offices and schools were closed and religious practices were forbidden. As everyone set to work under the supervision of revolution-
ary soldiers, Democratic Kampuchea became a prison farm. Pol Pot and his colleagues, who believed that secrecy had played an important role in their victory, only revealed their identity to the world in October l977 when forced to do so by their Chinese patrons. Conditions in Democratic Kampuchea varied from time to time and from place to place, but were generally harsher than most Cambodians had ever known. The Khmer Rouge had systematically set out to obliterate Cambodia’s Buddhist culture, its family-based system of social organization and its educated classes. Between April l975 and January l979 perhaps as many as l.5 million Cambodians died from malnutrition, overwork and disease. At least 200,000 others were executed without trial as ‘class enemies’. It was only during the 1980s that the full horrors of the Khmer Rouge period became known to the outside world. The Khmer Rouge had presided over the deaths of roughly one in five of Cambodia’s inhabitants, pursuing what the French writer Jean Lacouture has called a policy of ‘auto-genocide’, which left deep scars on its survivors. What had happened in Democratic Kampuchea also altered people’s views of Cambodian history.
KHMER ROUGE ALLIANCE
In 1968, the Khmer Rouge forces launched a national insurgency across Cambodia (see also Cambodian Civil War). 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 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, (known by its French acronym, GRUNK) backed by the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China. Sihanoukâ€™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 helped the Khmer Rouge against the Lon Nol government thought they were fighting for the restoration of Sihanouk.
The relation between the massive carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States and the growth of the Khmer Rouge, in terms of recruitment and popular support, has been a matter of interest to historians. In 1984 Craig Etcheson of the Documentation Center of Cambodia argued that it is “untenable” to assert that the Khmer Rouge would not have won but for U.S. intervention and that while the bombing did help Khmer Rouge recruitment, “would have won anyway.”
FALL OF THE
The leadership of the Khmer Rouge remained largely unchanged from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. The leaders were mostly from middle-class families and had been educated at French universities.
FALL OF THE KHMER ROUGE
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 to North Vietnam and China. He received some training in China, which had enhanced his prestige when he returned to the WPK’s liberated areas. Despite friendly relations between Norodom Sihanouk and the Chinese, the latter kept Pol Pot’s visit a secret from Sihanouk. In September 1966, the party changed its name 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 Sihanouk. In 1967, several small-scale attempts at insurgency were made by the CPK but they had little success. In 1968, the Khmer Rouge forces launched a national insurgency across Cambodia (see also Cambodian Civil War). Though North Vietnam had not been informed of the decision, its forces provided shelter and weapons to the
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 insurg 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. ency grew stronger, the party finally openly declared itself to be the Communist Party
he Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Vietnam War.
KILLING FIELDS The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large numbers of people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Vietnam War. At least 200,000 people were executed by the Khmer Rouge[(while estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.4 to 2.2 million out of a population of around 7 million).In 1979, communist Vietnam invaded and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime, which was officially called Democratic Kampuchea. Cambodiaâ€™s ethnic minorities constituted 15 percent of the population in pre-Khmer Rouge era. Almost all of them were repatriated by December 1975. Some argue that the Khmer Rouge had no intent to cause serious mental and physical harm to the Vietnamese during the sun repatriation process.The Chinese community (about 425,000 people in 1975) was reduced to 200,000 during the next four years. In the Khmer Rougeâ€™s Standing Committee, four members were of Chinese ancestry, two Vietnamese, and two Khmers. Some observers argue that this mixed composition makes it difficult to argue that there was an intent to kill off minorities.