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Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Khmer Rouge (Cambodian for Red Khmer) was a Communist regime that ruled Cambodia from April 1975 to January 1979. The group, led by Pol Pot, was formally the Communist Party of Kampuchea. In trying to reach its ambitious agricultural production goals and to protect itself against opposition, the regime worked large numbers of people to death and slaughtered its perceived opponents. Characterized by extreme brutality, the regime was responsible for the deaths through slaughter, starvation, overwork, and disease of 1 to 1.7 million Cambodians of a pre-1975 population of 7 or 8 million.

Under the Khmer Rouge, the cities were emptied; industry virtually halted; money, markets, and religion extinguished; and the entire populace sent out to agricultural labor camps in the countryside. Despite the regimes notional commitment to creating a classless society, in practice, people were divided into base people, those who had been under the Khmer Rouge before April 1975 and new people, those who came under the regimes control only with the final victory. New people suffered particularly in the austere rural labor conditions. Food was inadequate, the work schedule was harsh, and medical facilities and medicine were almost nonexistent. Gradually, the family unit was broken up; from 1977 dining was communalized.

The regime slaughtered officials from the old regime, intellectuals (which included teachers), Buddhist monks, and uncovered enemies. The Santebal internal security service kept meticulous records of the tortures and executions in which it engaged, Phnom Penhs S-21/Tuol Sleng facility being the pinnacle of the regimes torture camps. Failures to achieve the regimes unrealistic economic goals were blamed on internal and external conspirators. Confessions of sabotage were wrung from Cambodians who were forced to name their accomplices, drawing more innocents into the regimes web of terror. Cambodias numerous mass grave sites have come to be known as the Killing Fields.

Khmer Rouge thought placed particular attention to the idea of Khmer purity. Non-Khmer Cambodians of Vietnamese, Cham (Muslim), or Chinese descent faced particular threats. The young were considered especially pure by the Khmer Rouge, as they had not been tainted by the attitudes of the past (Pol Pots Little Red Book cites the following Khmer Rouge slogan: Clay is molded while it is soft). Society was supposed to start afresh from the year zero.

Heavily influenced by the ideas of Mao Zedong of China, Cambodias Communist leaders believed they could substitute human willpower for other economic inputs, thus carrying out a super great leap forward and revolutionizing agricultural production. The need to continually write ones autobiography and correct errors of thought were also borrowed from the Chinese Communists. Self-reliance was a core value and, with the exception of supporter China, the regime was effectively closed to the outside world.

In 1979, the Khmer Rouge was ousted from power by a Vietnamese invasion. The regimes remnants fled to the Thai border and continued to control territory and followers into the 1990s. A United Nations (UN)organized election in 1993 marginalized the group, which boycotted the polls. By 19961997, primarily through defections to the new government, the Khmer Rouge was virtually nonexistent. A show trial of Pol Pot was held in the Khmer Rougecontrolled zone of Cambodia in 1997, and the former leader was put under house arrest. He died in April 1998. In conjunction with the UN, Cambodia agreed in 2003 to set up a mixed Cambodian/international tribunal to bring remaining top Khmer Rouge leaders to justice for their crimes while in power, including Ta Mok, known as the Butcher, and Comrade Duch, the head of the S-21 camp.

SEE ALSO Communism; Genocide; Killing Fields; Military Regimes; Pol Pot; Underclass; United Nations

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chanda, Nayan. 1986. Brother Enemy: The War after the War. New York: Collier.

Chandler, David. 1999. Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Chandler, David. 1999. Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pots Secret Prison. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kiernan, Ben. 1985. How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 19301975. London: Verso.

Kiernan, Ben. 1996. The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide under the Khmer Rouge, 19751979. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Locard, Henri. 2004. Pol Pots Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books.

Ponchaud, Francois. 1978. Cambodia: Year Zero. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.

Schanberg, Sidney. 1980. The Death and Life of Dith Pran. New York: Penguin.

Shawcross, William. 1979. Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Paige Johnson Tan

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Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge (kəmĕr´ rōōzh), name given to native Cambodian Communists. Khmer Rouge soldiers, aided by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, began a large-scale insurgency against government forces in 1970, quickly gaining control over more than two thirds of the country. The strength of the Khmer Rouge rose dramatically from around 3,000 in 1970 to more than 30,000 in 1973, enabling most of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops to withdraw.

In 1975 the movement, led by Pol Pot, overthrew the Cambodian government, establishing "Democratic Kampuchea." The new government carried out a radical program of evacuating cities, closing schools and factories, and herding the population into collective farms. Intellectuals and skilled workers were assassinated, and a total of perhaps as many as 1.5 million died, inclusive of starvation and forced marches. In 1979, after increasing tensions with Vietnam, Vietnamese troops invaded, aiding a rival Communist faction to depose the Khmer Rouge government. The Khmer Rouge, however, continued to field an army of c.30,000 near the Thai border and retained UN recognition as the official Cambodian government.

In 1982 the Khmer Rouge formed a coalition with former premier Norodom Sihanouk and non-Communist leader Son Sann. Khieu Samphan officially succeeded Pol Pot as head of the Khmer Rouge in 1985, but Pol Pot was believed to remain the real leader. All Cambodian factions signed (1991) a treaty calling for UN-supervised elections and disarming 70% of all forces. In 1992 the United Nations assumed the government's administrative functions, while the Khmer Rouge withdrew from the peace process and resumed fighting. The following year the Khmer Rouge rejected the results of the UN-run elections that brought a coalition government to Cambodia.

The guerrilla force lost about half to three quarters of its strength (3,000–4,000 soldiers) in a mass defection in 1996, and factional fighting within the Khmer Rouge in 1997 led to Pol Pot's ouster, trial, and imprisonment by the Khmer Rouge. The group continued to disintegrate, and factional fighting resumed in 1998. Pol Pot died in April, Khieu Samphan surrendered in Dec., 1998, and by 1999 most members had defected, surrendered, or been captured.

A tribunal consisting of both Cambodian and international judges was established in 2006 to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, but the question of trial procedures and other issues delayed the filing of any charges until mid-2007. The first trial, of the former prison chief known as Duch, began in 2009; he was convicted in 2010. Other former leaders, including Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, once foreign minister, were indicted later in 2010, and tried beginning in 2011. Ieng Sary died (2013) before the trial was completed; Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, party deputy secretary under Pol Pot, were convicted of crimes against humanity in 2014.

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Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge Cambodian communist guerrilla organization. It gained control of Cambodia in 1975. Led by Pol Pot and Khieu Samphan, it embarked on a forced wholesale communist transformation of Cambodian society, during which an estimated 2 to 3 million people died. The regime lost power to the Vietnamese after a period of intense conflict in 1977–78. The Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation, supported by the Vietnamese, founded a People's Republic in 1979. In 1982 the Khmer Rouge joined a coalition with Prince Norodom Sihanouk (the former Cambodian leader) and the Khmer Peoples National Liberation Front. From 1988 attempts were made to settle the political situation by peaceful means. In 1991 each faction signed a cease-fire agreement. After an election in 1993, in which the Khmer Rouge refused to take part, Prince Sihanouk's parliamentary monarchy was re-established. The Khmer Rouge continued hostilities and have been officially banned since 1994.

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"Khmer Rouge." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge a communist guerrilla organization which opposed the Cambodian government in the 1960s and waged a civil war from 1970, taking power in 1975. Under Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge undertook a forced reconstruction of Cambodian society, involving mass deportations from the towns to the countryside and mass executions (see killing field).

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