Horror In Cambodia
What if you were tortured or killed for being a certain race or believing in something? Or for just being yourself. This is what happened during the Cambodian Genocide.
Info about the Cambodian Genocide
The Cambodian Genocide began when on April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge- a communist group- led by Pol Pot, took control of Cambodia. They renamed the country Democratic Kampuchea. The United States had manipulated Cambodian politics to support Lon Nol as the leader of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge believed that the west was affecting the citizens of Cambodia so they captured the villagers and took them on a long journey to working fields. Many fell and got shot, and others couldn’t survive the long non-stop walk. After, the Khmer Rouge began to harass the educated. They targeted Christian, Buddhist, and Muslims. They divided everyone into categories based on the trust that the Khmer Rouge had for them. After four years, the Khmer Rouge was removed from power when the Vietnamese invaded in January of 1979. The Cambodian Genocide was very horrific and over 1.5 million people lost their lives during it. Many former leaders of the Khmer Rouge are being brought to trial for their crimes till this day.
Who were the Khmer Rouge?
The Khmer Rouge was a communist group led by Pol Pot that contained over 700,000 men. They allied North-Vietnam and Anti-Communists, and were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Where did the genocide take place?
The genocide took place in Cambodia, a country in Asia. The population at the time was 7.556 million.
People were killed for many different reasons. They mainly targeted intellectuals, residents of the city, ethnic Vietnamese, civil servants and religious leaders. Approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives. About 1.5 million, or 1/7 of Cambodia's population were killed, and the other 200,000 died from natural causes. They were killed for speaking a foreign language, having an education or being wealthy, showing emotion, showing weakness or “bad character”, and many more. The prisoners had no freedom. Even a quick trip to the bathroom at night could kill you. But not everyone was murdered. Most actually died from starvation, malnutrition, and mistreated or misdiagnosed illness.
The prisoners were put to work for almost 15 hours a day, non-stop, with only one meal. Somedays, they wouldn't even get feed. The jobs included the following:
- Serving in the kitchen
- Being in the band (which was optional)
- Working in rice fields (which majority of the people did)
- Diggings ditches
- Putting dead bodies in ditches
- Band leader
- Being a servant
- And etc...
Cnn interviewed two survivors of the Cambodian Genocide. Youk Chang, who was 13 when the Khmer Rouge came into power, and Vann Nath. Both of them recalled the horrific tragedies and memories. Nath told Cnn that, "I thought that was the end of my life. In my room people kept dying, one or two everyday." He also stated that, "We could not sit. If we wanted to sit, we had to ask permission first. No talking, whispering, or making noise." Prisoners were also drowned. "It sounded like when we are really in pain, choking in water. The sound was screaming, from the throat. I suppose they could not bear the torture.” Every prisoner had feared for their life. "Whenever we heard the noises we were really shocked and scared. We thought one day they will do the same thing to us." Food was such an important factor to the prisoners. Youk Chhang-the other survivor -talked about how important food was to them. "Food was ... more important than God. I always wish to have a bowl of rice. And one good night's sleep. That's all I wanted. I would do anything for it." The prisoners had little rest and food, but had many hours of work.
So many innocent people lost their lives, and we need to realize how important this is and learn about it so it wont happen again in the future. Everyone should be treated equally, and shouldn’t get killed based on their race, religion, beliefs, background, and/or etc. Too many innocent people are getting murdered in society today. We need to learn about our past to better our future.