Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Rise of the Khmer Rouge

From Cambodia Tribunal Monitor:
The Cambodian communist movement emerged from the country’s struggle against French colonization 1940s, and was influenced by the Vietnamese. Fueled by the first Indochina War in the 1950s, and during the next 20 years, the movement took roots and began to grow. In March 1970, Marshal Lon Nol, a Cambodian politician who had previously served as prime minister, and his pro-American associates staged a successful coup to depose Prince Sihanouk as head of state. At this time, the Khmer Rouge had gained members and was positioned to become a major player in the civil war due to its alliance with Sihanouk. Their army was led by Pol Pot, who was appointed CPK’s party secretary and leader in 1963. Pol Pot, born in Cambodia as Solath Sar, spent time in France and became a member of the French Communist Party. Upon returning to Cambodia in 1953, he joined a clandestine communist movement and began his rise up the ranks to become one of the world’s most infamous dictators.

Aided by the Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge began to defeat Lon Nol’s forces on the battlefields. By the end of 1972, the Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia and turned the major responsibilities for the war over to the CPK. From January to August 1973, the Khmer Republic government, with assistance from the US, dropped about half a million tons of bombs on Cambodia, which may have killed as many as 300,000 people. Many who resented the bombings or had lost family members joined the Khmer Rouge’s revolution. By early 1973, about 85 percent of Cambodian territory was in the hands of the Khmer Rouge, and the Lon Nol army was almost unable to go on the offensive. However, with US assistance, it was able to continue fighting the Khmer Rouge for two more years. April 17, 1975 ended five years of foreign interventions, bombardment, and civil war in Cambodia. On this date, Phnom Penh, a major city in Cambodia, fell to the communist forces. (Read more.)

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