Issue 105

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Page 17 of 59

For centuries, Cambodia has been a country that has been taken advantage of, through slavery, colonisation and tourism. But it was in the 1970's when Pol Pot came to power that things turned really ugly. Coming from a relatively affluent country, Pot spent his twenties studying in France and it was here that he became associated with the ever growingly popular communist ways of thinking. On his return to Cambodia, the country was already in the midst of a revolt against the French who had colonised the country some years before. Cambodia gained independence later that year in 1953. Whilst teaching in a private school, Pot planned a revolution and eventually became the leader of Khmer People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP) who created a national uprising in 1968 based on the communist ideas of Stalin. At the same time, while all of this was happening in Cambodia, a communist uprising was also occurring in the neighbouring country of Vietnam where America was implementing armies into the country to try and fight the rise of communism spreading to the west. Nixon, the US president during this time, dropped 500,000 tons of bombs onto Cambodia to try and destroy the Viet Kong troops that had tried to seek refuge in the country. This amount dropped in the span of four years is three times the amount used on Japan in World War II! Meanwhile in Cambodia Pot's reign meant that anyone who was creative, understood a foreign language, any Asian ethnic minority, Christians, Buddhist monks, people who were not making enough money through agriculture and anyone who tried to overturn Pot's rule was imprisoned tortured and killed. Torture methods were also designed to make victims confess to their crimes and to decipher whether they were telling the truth about their dedication to the communist party. Ultimately, people would be taken to the killing fields and executed with a pickaxe and buried in a mass grave. For one particular camp, there are only 7 known survivors of the thousands that passed through. Cambodia became under siege of a dictatorship rule where everything about a person's life was monitored and controlled including property, money, education and gambling. Books and religion were outlawed, rules about clothing, sexual relations and vocabulary became commonplace and children were taken from homes and forced to join the military. By 1973 the Khmer Army had taken over three-quarters of Cambodia and thousands of people had flooded to the capital for refuge. However, the US army had bombed the airports meaning that supplies could not get through and this lead to the starvation of thousands more Cambodians. Even rice-fields had to be re-dug to represent the coat of arms for the country. Eventually, in 1979, Pol Pot had to escape into the jungle as the Vietnamese sent 60,000 troops into Cambodia over rising tensions between the border of the two countries. Shockingly, the Khmer Rouge received support from China and the USA in the form of arms towards the fight against Vietnam and in 1991 a ceasefire agreement created peace for all the countries involved. Pol Pot died in his sleep in 1997 and still, only a handful of arrests have been made, despite the millions of horrific deaths that occurred during this time in Cambodia. 14 ISSUE 105 / 2017 GUESTLIST Cambodia is a country of beauty and wonder, where the locals are kind, humble and welcoming. But behind the smiles lies a dark history, that although most people have vaguely heard of in the UK, a lot of people don't really know what the Cambodian Genocide really entailed. THE TRUTH BEHIND POL POT'S EVIL DICTATORSHIP INDGI LIVES

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