Pol Pot, The Leader of Khmer Rouge Regime
Pol Pot, also known as Saloth Sar, was the leader of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979. From 1976-1979 he served as the Prime Minister of the Democratic Kampuchea.
Pol Pot became the leader of Kampuchea in mid-1976. Under his leadership, Pol Pot revolutionized farming techniques. He forced people from the cities to establish their homes in the rural areas and performed hard work to achieve his new agenda “New Development.” These people were not used to work. While doing extreme work every day, they also had inadequate food, hospitals, and some were brutally killed. Under this regime, approximately 20% of Cambodians died.
Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979. The Pol Pot regime collapsed and he fled into the forest. From 1979-1997, Pol Pot and his remaining followers that managed to escape and survive remained along the Cambodia-Thailand border, having been recognized by the United Nations as a legitimate government. He died in 1998. Rumors had it that he was poisoned.
Pol Pot was an alumnus, studying Radio and Electrical in Paris before he became involved with the communist party in Cambodia in 1962 and became the leader from 1976-1979.
Born on May 19, 1925, to middle-class farmers, Pol Pot was the 8th child of 9. At this time, Cambodia was still under French control. He left his village to pursue his education at Ecole Miche in Phnom Penh. He was allowed to go to Sisowath High School in 1947 but he did not succeed in his educational career.
He was awarded a full scholarship to attend a Technical School in Paris, studying radio and electronics from 1949-1953. He participated in an international brigade road construction movement in Zzgreb in the Republic of Yugoslavia in 1950. Pol Pot became interested in the communist movement during the French Revolution and he became a secret agent for Cercle Marxiste, led by Cambodian Scholars.
After failing classes 3 years straight, Pol Pot decided to return home in 1953. In 1954, he traveled with Roth Samoeun to the Eastern Command Station of Viet Minh. Along with many others, Pol Pot had studied the Cambodian People Revolution Party. After Cambodia gained its independence from Geneva, there were left and right wings, trying to challenge the current government. King Norodom Sihanouk created numbers of parties to fight against each other while using police and soldiers to suppress other strong political parties. Corruption during the 1955 election had led the left-wing to lose hope in trying to gain power legally.
After he returned to Phnom Penh, Pol Pot became a soldier for the communist party. He got married to Keav Pon Neary in 1956.
The Road Toward Revolution
The Cambodian Government formed the Cambodia People Party and successfully established a communist government in 1962. In 1962, To Samut, the secretary of what so-called the Underground Party was caught and killed, and Pol Pot became the leader of the party.
However, his name was later enlisted and he was suspected as the left-wing. He fled to the Vietnam border to establish a connection with the Vietnamese and help fight the South Vietnamese forces. In 1964, Pol Pot asked North Vietnam to help establish a communist party in Cambodia. This party had the slogan of “Self-reliance.” At the border, the ideology of the Khmer Rouge soon solidified. With an ideology of collective work for the people, the Khmer Rouge regime began to get into the minds of the people and the regime continued to rise under the leadership of Pol Pot. Teachers and students were forced to join this movement. In 1965, Pol Pot went to South Vietnam to get the agreement for the uprising against the Cambodian government, but South Vietnam refused because they had already made a negotiation with the Cambodian government. King Norodom Sihanouk promised to have Vietnam use Cambodia lands and its ports during the fight against South Vietnam.
Pol Pot returned to Cambodia and organized a meeting in which important party members participated. They came together and planned the uprising by creating different stations in different areas in preparation for the upcoming uprising. However, the uprising was stopped on 18 January 1968 during the attack on the South Battambong soldiers.
By: Moeun Kimyan