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Genocides: Cambodia

HISTORIC GENOCIDES #7: The Cambodian Genocide 1975-1979

The Cambodian Genocide was perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge on the civilian population and ethnic minorities in an effort to collectivize their economy. The Genocide started in April 1975 and lasted until January 1979.

The Khmer Rouge was the popular name for the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Their leader, Pol Pot, despised the Western nations and saw Cambodian self-sufficiency as a way to remove “foreign influences and institutions”. Inspired by the Maoist policies of Communist China, Pol Pot initiated a forceful agrarian ‘revolution’, involving a push towards collectivization and forced agrarian work within Cambodia. Cities were emptied of citizens who were sent to work in labor camps.

Mass executions of dissidents and accused counter-revolutionaries were rampant throughout these camps. Those guilty were taken to the ‘Killing Fields’ to be beaten to death with picks as bullets were too precious to use. These killings likely made up to 60% of the total fatalities.

Thousands of innocents also died in the labor camps through exhaustion, disease, malnutrition and random killings by the Khmer Rouge. There was also a purge of intellectual dissidents and ethnic minorities, with over 200,000 Chinese Cambodians and 90,000 Muslims murdered.

The infamous Security Prison 21 was used by the Khmer Rouge to torture and conduct medical experiments on civilians. 20,000 passed through the doors of Security Prison 21, only seven came out alive. The slaughter led to an out-pour of refugees to the surrounding countries, mainly Thailand and Vietnam.

The Cambodian Genocide ended in 1979 with the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam. The total death toll was between 1.5 – 2 Million people.

Image: The S-21 (Tuol Sleng) “Security Prison” was a torture and execution center used by the Khmer Rouge during the genocide. This young boy was one of the victims.

Source: Cambodian Genocide Museum. Colorized by Spartacus.