• Khmer people settled
Cambodia ~ 1000 BC
• Historical Peak = Khmer
Empire: 802 AD - 1200s
• 1863: French protectorate
• 1887: Joined with Laos and
Vietnam to form French-
• 1897: France assumed
direct control of the king's
authority to issue decrees,
collect taxes, and appoint
royal officials in his name.
• The Cambodians felt threatened by change,
• French administration focused on cash crops -
rice, rubber - and efficient tax collection.
• French relied upon immigrant Chinese and
Vietnamese for labor and local administration
which led to Cambodian resentment.
• 1953: Independence
• Prince Norodom Sihanouk
suspicious of U.S. and
allied with Communist
• 1955-1975: Vietnam War
• 1970: coup d’etat ousted
ended, Cambodia =
• New government allied
with US; Sihanouk sought
refuge in China and
aligned himself with the
• Radical Communist Ideology:
– Pro-Khmer nationalist
– “Ideal” society = simple, agrarian,
communist; goal was to create a nation of
• 1925: born to wealthy farm family with
• 1935: Sent to royal household in
Phnom Penh. His sister was a
concubine to the King and he
attended French schools.
• 1949: Studied in France and joined the
• 1953: Lost scholarship, returned home.
• 1963: Elected leader of Khmer
Communist Party. The Khmer Rouge =
Communist military force. Saloth Sar, aka, Pol
Pot or Brother #1
The War In Cambodia
• N. Vietnam supplied S.
via Ho Chi Minh Trail
• 1965-75: US bombing
expanded to Cambodia
• 115,000 sites in 231,00
sorties, 2.75 m. tons of
• ~ 600,000 Cambodians
Impact of US War on Cambodia
• Anti-American Khmer Rouge forces surge to 100,000
• By 1973, the Khmer Rouge controlled 60% of Cambodian
territory and 25% of its population.
• In 1975, Khmer Rouge capture capital city, Phnom Penh
Fall of Phnom Penh
• 1970-1975 - 2.5 million + persons fled to Phnom
Penh, from the Khmer Rouge. Food and
supplies became scarce.
• When Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the
entire city was forcibly evacuated within days
including hospital patients. Other major cities
met the same fate.
• 1975 = “Year Zero” - radical agrarian
Old People/New People
• Peasants/workers = old people
• Urban population = new people
• “One death is a tragedy – a million a
statistic.” - Joseph Stalin
• “Better to destroy ten innocent people
than let one enemy go free.” - Khmer Rouge
• "To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you
is no loss.” - Khmer Rouge slogan in reference to
Khmer Rouge Rule
• Attempted to instantly transform into farming utopia
• Abolished money, private property and religion.
• Tortured and killed all educated
• Relocate urban dwellers to countryside, forced to
farm 10+ hrs/day, mass starvation and disease, 80% of
pop. suffered from malaria
• Totally isolated the country from the outside.
Khmer Rouge Victims
• Anyone with connections to former government or
• Everyone with an education (even people wearing
• Ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and other minorities
• Buddhist monks, Christians, and Muslims
• "Economic saboteurs:” former urban dwellers with no
Khmer Rouge Victims
• Est. dead 1.4-2.2 million (of 7 m. = 20-30% of population)
• ~ 50% from starvation and forced labor, ~50% from
executions (mostly by pickax in order to save bullets)
The Killing Fields
The remains of 16,000 persons were exhumed from the killing fields at
Choeung Ek in 1980. It was the first indication of just how terrible the
Khmer Rouge rule had been.
Cambodian – Vietnamese War
• Communist split
– Russia backed Vietnam
– US & China backed Khmer Rouge.
• Vietnamese/ Cambodian animosity
• Territorial conflict
• January 1979: Vietnamese capture Phnom Penh and
other cities; Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge controlled
• Sihanouk returned to exile in China.
• Khmer Rouge rule and war had decimated the
Cambodian population. Only half of pre-war
The End of the Khmer Rouge
• 1989: Vietnamese withdrawal
• 1993-2004: Sihanouk restored
• 1997: Pol Pot tried by a Khmer
Rouge “people tribunal.” He
was sentenced to house
arrest and died in 1998.
• By 1999, most Khmer Rouge
leaders had surrendered.
Pol Pot in 1997.
• Establishing a tribunal was a torturous process.
– 1997 – The UN recommended an international court
to conduct genocide trials.
– 2000- The UN and Cambodia agreed on a mixed
– 2001 – Cambodia passed a law giving legal status to
the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of
– 2002 – The scope of the trials were limited to senior
Khmer leaders and crimes committed between 1975
– By 2006, a total of 12 foreign judges & prosecutors
were selected plus 17 Cambodian judges &
– 2007 – The first actual trial commenced.
Duch, aka, Kang Dech Eav
• Duch was the first
the mixed tribunal
• Duch was the
the Toul Sleng
responsible for the
and death of