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Cambodia: The ‘Sideshow’ of Vietnam. The neutral country that becomes an inferno in the 1970s. Gained independence from France in 1953 Led by King Sihanouk, who had widespread support from peasants, from 1953-1970 Cambodian Communists form Khmer Rouge in mid 1950s

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cambodia the sideshow of vietnam

Cambodia:The ‘Sideshow’ of Vietnam

The neutral country that becomes an inferno in the 1970s

slide2
Gained independence from France in 1953
  • Led by King Sihanouk, who had widespread support from peasants, from 1953-1970
  • Cambodian Communists form Khmer Rouge in mid 1950s
  • In 1967, when the government attempts to seize the surplus of rice harvest, peasants and Khmer Rouge revolt
  • Khmer Rouge becomes a growing guerilla army in remote mountainous countryside
slide3
1960s – Sihanouk allows HCM Trail through Cambodia but in 1968 tells Americans that he was not opposed to “hot pursuit in uninhabited areas which would be liberating us from Viet Cong”
  • Nixon bombs Cambodia without permission; Sihanouk ignores it
  • American bombings push Vietnamese communists further into Cambodia
  • While the bombings had little effect on the Viet Cong, the Khmer Rouge benefited from them by gaining in numbers
  • Read & glue in handouts “American Inferno” and “Holocaust at Neak Luong”
1970 1975 civil war
1970 – 1975 Civil War
  • North Vietnamese joins Khmer Rouge (KR) to fight the American-backed government of Lon Nol
  • Lon Nol’s army is ill-trained, with corrupt officers and school children recruited; he recommends magic rituals for safety in battle
  • KR gains support from peasants bombed by Americans
  • KR marches in Phnom Penh 17 April, 1975, winning the civil war – US citizens evacuate
pol pot the khmer rouge regime 1975 1979
Pol Pot & the Khmer Rouge Regime: 1975 - 1979

Year Zero: a ‘Pure’ Society

  • Emptied the capital city
  • Educated & those with Western contacts murdered
  • Cambodia becomes a vast work camp: people till the soil in countryside from dawn til dusk
  • Money, religion, family life abolished
  • People living in semi-starvation or starved to death
  • Ineffective peasants executed

Pol Pot: “Only 1.5 million young Cambodians out of six million will be enough to rebuild a pure society.”

Read and glue in handout ‘Peasant Revolution.’

genocide in cambodia
Genocide in Cambodia
  • Torture centres set up (Tuol Sleng, or S-21)
  • 1/5 of population, 2 million, killed in 4 years
  • Land mines still all over the country

Pictures and video of Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng

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