Between 1975 and 1979, during the Vietnam War, the United States bombarded a great deal of the nation of Cambodia and manipulated Cambodian politics to support the increase of Lon Nol as the leader of Cambodia. A Communist group known as Khmer Rouge used this as an opportunity to recruit followers as an excuse for the brutal policies, they exercised once in power. The Khmer Rouge took control of the Cambodian government in 1975, with the objective of transforming the nation into a socialist farming ideal world.
In all actuality, they emptied the cities and evacuated many individuals to labor camps where they were starved and abused. This lead to the event known to many as the Cambodian Genocide. This provides the fact that genocide has occurred after the world learned of the horrors of The Holocaust in the 1940’s. When the United States went into war with Vietnam they used Cambodia as a regrouping zone for the U.S. troops. In March of 1970, the head of Cambodia Prince Sihanouk was removed by US-backed Field Marshal Lon Nol, setting up a long armed struggle against the forces of the Khmer Rouge.
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The Khmer Rouge was controlled by Pol Pot and he made an alliance with Prince Sihanouk to thrash Lon Nol’s forces on the battlefields. In early 1973 they succeeded with help from the Vietnamese. When the U.S. heard about what was happening in Cambodia they started to drop their bombings into the country so that they would kill the communist group, but that just made things worse. As a result, Khmer Rouge only grew bigger and more than 300,000 people died. They started to gain control over the country’s capital city, Phnom Penh and removed the Lon Nol government on April 17, 1975. Once seizing control of Cambodia Khmer Rouge immediately began sending people to labor camps in the countryside where they starved and got abused. This left many cities emptied and deserted. When people evacuated a school teacher stated, “young troops where throwing books into the streets and buring them” (Kiernan 39).
By 1976 Cambodia name was changed to the Democratic Kampuchea and the new leader Pol Pot was starting to build his new republic. What he was planning to do was to transform this country into an agricultural society comprised of collectivized farms. They executed people who had an education and who couldn’t work. This is where it became extremely brutal. “A whole nation was kidnapped and then besieged from within” (Kiernan 8).
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