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The Cambodian Genocide

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The Cambodian Genocide or the Cambodian Holocaust, which occurred between 1975 and 1979, refers to the death of approximately 2 million people due to starvation, forced labor and political executions. The Khmer Rouge period was characterized by the rule of people like Pol Pot, Leng Sary, Nuon Chea, and the Khmer Rouge Communist Party etc. in Cambodia. The communists had abolished the Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea, which had been established in 1970.

Though the royal government was abolished, the king Norodum Sihanouk was used as the face of Cambodian government, until he resigned in 1976. The Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia is a classic example of tyranny, clothed as communism. The Khmer Rouge rule classified people as "old" and "new", based on their nativity. The "new" people were treated very harshly, were subjected to unending political indoctrination, and could be executed without a trial. The country's economy also suffered considerably.

Currency was abolished, and trade was carried out only through barter. Foreign trade was completely limited. The Khmer Rouge was hostile towards traditional education. Thousand of teachers were executed after the fall of Pnom Penh. The objective of the new education system that the Khmer Rouge installed was to teach mathematics, literacy and revolutionary values to the young. This regime recruited children to spy on adults. Health facilities were very poor.

Common people had to treat themselves with herbs and other natural remedies which were ineffective, as they had no access to medical care. Sometimes people used to barter their possessions to obtain an aspirin. People living in cities were asked to evacuate and settle in the countryside. The roads were clogged with evacuees. There was food shortage, and many people died in the process of evacuation.

The Khmer Rouge also interrogated and executed people who were "supposed enemies", after an interrogation at Til Sleng or S-21. The enemies were executed with a pick axe to save bullets and then buried together. Some of the people were executed like this included the ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Thai, Cambodian Christians, Muslims and Buddhist Monks.

These atrocities became internationally known only with the discovery of the Tol Sleng center or S-21 in May 1979. These atrocities ended when Vietnam overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. However, by then nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population had been destroyed. Today, lawyers and historians have no doubts about the war crimes and humanitarian crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. The discovery of the mass graves has testified this atrocity.

Upon taking power, April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge is implementing a plan consistent with their vision of the past racist Khmer and their ideal of a rural community. They want to transform the country into a large cooperative place in which all would work to irrigate the soil and produce rice, as in the distant and glorious past Khmer. The Angkar, long mysterious organization, which includes in fact the leaders of Democratic Kampuchea, Cambodia was a vast labor camp. For leaders, it was to uproot the "three mountains": imperialism, feudalism and capitalism reactionary.

Tags: Cambodian Genocide, Khmer Rouge period, Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea, imperialism, feudalism and capitalism reactionary.

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