When learning about Genocide there are a few questions that are important to think about. What drove the Khmer Rouge to commit these killings? What were their goals and how did they follow through with them? How and why did the Khmer Rouge get away with the worst mass genocide in Asian history? The response to the last question is a difficult one especially because the leaders of the Khmer Rouge have yet to face punishment. Cambodians would like to erase the years of 1975-1978 from their past, but the numerous mass graves and the presence of past Khmer Rouge members in the Northwestern jungles of the country, still haunt the victims and the survivors. After this holocaust the world said, “Never Again.” Sadly, since this day, the words “Never Again” have been repeated four or of past Khmer Rouge members in the Northwestern jungles of the country, still haunt the victims and the survivors.
After this holocaust the world said, “Never
Again.” Sadly, since this day, the words “Never Again” have been repeated four
or five times. Why has the global community not adhered to this phrase? The U.N. has agreed to a tribunal that will
hopefully bring justice to the country. The Khmer Rouge got away with murder
for twenty-eight years. The factors that enabled them to do this,
are now enabling the Janjaweed militiamen in
Prior to the Khmer Rouge,
Sihanouk (Image 3)
Cambodians, either illiterate or equipped with only a smattering of education,
cheered whatever their leaders told them to cheer and hoped their lives, lived from hand to mouth, would not suffer” (Kamm pg.52). During this period of uncertainty in the Cambodian government, the communists took advantage of their weakness and started to become more organized and powerful.
Lon Nol (Image 4)
The Vietnamese communists
started taking over the borders of
signified an end to the American bombings and the communists bombing against the Americans, and they welcomed peace. What Cambodians thought was going to be an end to the Five Years War, became the beginning of the largest genocide in Asian History.
Khmer Rouge Soldiers
What drove the Khmer Rouge to commit these killings? (Goals)
The Khmer Rouge’s goal was to
create a new
How did the Khmer Rouge follow through with their goals?
Once the Khmer Rouge had gained
power, and stabilized their four-year plan, they set in on their prize
possession: the capital city of
All other cities were evacuated, and the people were moved into the rural areas of the country. All civil servants, police, and military officers were automatically killed along with the educated peoples of the upper classes (“The Fall of Phnom Penh”). These people were seen as a threat to the Khmer Rouge and their goals. The Khmer Rouge justified this evacuation by telling the Cambodians it was because of the threat of an American bombing (“Democratic Kampuchea, 1975-78”). Others were told that there were so many people so the people had to be brought to the food on the farmers instead of the food being brought to the people(“Democratic Kampuchea, 1975-78”). No matter what people were told, they were being lied to, and were secretly being lead into a “hell on earth.” The Khmer Rouge planned to “purify the Urban dwellers” and “turn the country into a nation of peasants in which the corruption and parasitism of city life would be completely uprooted” (“Democratic Kampuchea, 1975-78”).
Photo of excavation pits at the Killing Fields.
After the Khmer Rouge had effectively transported all the urban people into the rural areas, the four-year plan began. They effectively transformed all Cambodians into a labor workforce that grew rice until they died. Cambodians were killed for not working hard enough, stealing food (because they were not allowed to eat the food they grew), wearing jewelry, having sexual relations, or expressing emotions or grief (“Democratic Kampuchea 1975-78”). To reduce the number of firearms used communists killed people by putting them in plastic bags or striking them with pick axes. Along with being murdered, Cambodians died of hunger, disease, exhaustion, and exposure (“Revolutionary Terror”). One million people were executed either in the “Killing Fields” or in the “Security Office.” This term originated during the filming of the movie “The Killing Fields.” It is estimated that approximately 16,000 people died in the Killing Fields (“Revolutionary Terror”). The Khmer Rouge would trick people into going into empty fields by saying that a family member was waiting for them or they were going to cultivate rice in a new area. Once the people arrived they would line them up and either shoot them or beat them with a hoe. The bodies were left there which is why there are bones strewed about the countryside even in 2006 (Cambodian Communities in Crisis).
Children Executed by the Khmer Rouge
Another means for mass murder
was the ‘Security Office 21’ (S-21) which was established in May 1976 as a
place for interrogation and extermination.
S-21 was the equivalent of
Security regulations in S-21
End of the Genocide
On December 25, 1978, the
Did the Khmer Rouge get away with a mass murder?
The Khmer Rouge got away with
the murder of 1.2 to three million people between the years of 1975-1978. Although
the director of the S-21 is in prison and six other Khmer Rouge leaders will
face a trial in 2007 at the U.N. Khmer Rouge Genocide Tribunal, the Khmer Rouge
can never be punished enough for their destruction of the culture, society,
economy, and the corruption of the mindset of the “old
How can this be when after the Jewish Holocausts and numerous other Holocausts global leaders stated, “Never Again.” The response from the world should be, “Never Again?” How did the Khmer Rouge get away with this? The answer is, through lies and deceit. Cambodians were ignorant of the fact that the Khmer Rouge never gave public service announcements to the world or the Cambodians (Kamm pg. 134). In March 1978, Pol Pot (the leader of the Khmer Rouge) spoke with Yugoslav journalists who were in the country. He fooled the global community by feeding them lies such as we have “enough rice to feed our people” when numerous amounts of people were dying every day because of starvation, and “we have eliminated malaria.” Pol Pot even said, “Another outstanding result is the basic elimination of the illiteracy, which was a blemish in the former society” (Kamm pg. 134). Pol Pot eradicated all sources of education as well as killing all educated people and educators. What is sad is that the International community believed these lies, while millions of people were dying.
The Khmer Rouge has gotten away
with murder for twenty-seven years because the global community has failed to
put pressure on
Child looking at skulls: Tribunal is important so younger generations learn of their past.
Even though it has been
twenty-eight years since the genocide,
Will this tribunal help the
global community realize that as humans, they can no longer stand by and watch
genocides occur without helping the victims?
Maybe this tribunal will bring more attention to the current genocide in
Video describing the horror of the Holocaust
"The Vietnam War." http://www.vietnamwar.com/
A good site for people who know nothing about the Vietnam War.
This is a basic search engine that has basic information on Sihanouk.
This is a very in depth biography of Pol Pot. It describes his life from birth to death and has other people’s opinions of him.
This is a great
site because it has a video describing a primary visit to
Go to this site to see current genocide threats, emergencies, and alerts.
This site gives a brief overview of
different holocausts in the world’s history. There is good information about the
Kamm, Henry. _Cambodia-Report from a
Stricken Land_. 1st edition.
Evan. "Why You Should Care About the Khmer Rouge Tribunal; Cruel Lessons
Mydans, Seth. "Former Cambodian Leaders to Face Trial." New York Times 23 Jan. 2006, Late ed. ProQuest. 17 Apr. 2006.
Nakashima, Ellen. "
Horsington, Helen. “The Cambodian Khmer Rouge Tribunal: the promise
of a hybrid tribunal.”
"The Vietnam War-America's Longest War." The Vietnam War. Americans.net. 18 Apr. 2006 <www.vietnamwar.com>. 1996-2005.
Today Series. Stryker-Post
Leibo, Steven A. "The Cambodian Genocide." The World Today Series. 38th ed.
Pol Pot's Shadow. Perf. Amanda Pike. 2002. PBS. 17 Apr. 2006 http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/cambodia220vid.html
Image Sources :
(Image 1) « Cambodian Killing Fields. » The Digital Archive of Cambodian Holocaust Survivors. http://www.cybercambodia.com/dachs/killing.html
(Image 2) “Cambodia Map.” Portals to the World. The Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/rr/international/asian/cambodia/cambodia.html
(Image 3) « Sihanouk. » The Varman Dynasty. Christopher Buyers. http://www.4dw.net/royalark/Cambodia/camboa20.htm
(Image 4) « Lon Nol . » Chronology of Cambodian History. http://angkor1431.tripod.com/index/id26.html
5) “Khmer Rouge Soldiers.” The
7) « Photo of excavation pits at the
Killing Fields.” The Killing Fields of Pol Pol
(Image 8) « Children executed by the Khmer Rouge. » Rosa Chunn. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. http://www.teara.govt.nz/NewZealanders/NewZealandPeoples/Cambodians/1/ENZ-Resources/Standard/2/en
(Image 9) « Regulations at S-21. » S-21-The Horrors of Tuol Sleng. http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/khmeryears/s21.html
(Image 10) « Forced Labor. » Terror and Genocide. http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/tl03.html
(Image 11) « Child looking at skulls. » BBC News Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/world/asia-pacific/1096866.stm
(Image 12) Frontline World. PBS. « Pol Pots Shadow. » http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/thestory.html
Mr. Okoth’s 10th Grade
Global Studies 2 Class