Saloth Sar (better known as Pol Pot; January 25, 1925 – April 15, 1998) was the leader of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. He was the leader of a group called the Khmer Rouge, a group of peasant revolutionaries who turned Cambodia into a military dictatorship officially called Democratic Kampuchea. Between 1.7 and 2.2 million Cambodians were killed by his regime. Pol Pot was thrown out of power in January, 1979, when the Vietnamese communists liberated Kampuchea.
Before the war[change | change source]
Pol Pot's family was a good family, and really connected with the royal family. His brother, Loth Suong, was a palace clerk, and his cousin was a wife to Prince Sisowat Monivong and had a son named Kossarak. His connection helped him get a scholarship to France.
His father's name was Pen Saloth and his mother's name was Sok Nem. Pol Pot had eight siblings. His family was thriving, but alone. Pol Pot's childhood was fairly normal. Pol Pot's real name is Saloth Sar. His birthday is either 1925 or May 25, 1928. He grew up in a nice place, and his village was about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Kompong Thom's capital city. Kompong Thom was a province of Cambodia. Back then, Cambodia was a colony of France.
In 1949, he went to Paris, France and studied about radio electronics, but got distracted and led astray because of Marxism, which is a form of communism. He didn't study, and his scholarship was taken away. In 1953, he went back to Cambodia and became a communist. The following year, Cambodia became free from France.
Revolution[change | change source]
Pol Pot went to the jungle and created a guerrilla force called the Khmer Rouge (the Khmer are the main ethnic group in Cambodia, and rouge is French for "red", the colour of Communism). The Khmer Rouge was made of mostly teenagers. Guerilla means that they hid and ambushed people, rather than be visible and directly attack their enemies. They were the source of Pol Pot's power.
In 1969-1973 the U.S. bombed Cambodian sanctuaries attempting to get rid of the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, but only drove them deeper into the countryside. The US also made it so that the peasants ran to cities.
In 1970, the U.S. got rid of Prince Sihanouk and unknowingly made Pol Pot more popular. They also made Prince Sihanouk mad, and so he joined Pol Pot, but that alliance only gave Pol Pot an advantage. This created a whole lot of confusion, and only made Pol Pot even more popular.
Government[change | change source]
On April 17, 1975, Pol Pot went into Phnom Penh, the capital, and took control. He planned for a "super great leap forward", inspired by Mao's Great Leap Forward in China. The second in command, Noun Chea, also called Brother Number Two, said later that the mass killing was a mistake. Pol Pot took all the city people and drove them towards fields as forced labour, where they worked incessantly. A lot of people died on the way to the fields. Even more died in the fields from hunger, thirst, overwork, and sickness. They would only get a 180-gram can of rice every day, and they were harvesting fruits and rice. Every tenth day was a rest day, and so were the festivals. The government took over anything that had to do with money which was illegal. Religion was also illegal. Teenagers had to be part of the army and children learned how to set land mines and make booby traps. People getting together were not allowed. Only two people or less were allowed to see each other. Marriages were arranged, not because they loved each other, but because they were forced to. They had to marry in big groups. After the Vietnamese and underground Cambodian parties got Pol Pot out of power on 7 January 1979, he went to a zone near Thailand called Pailin and tried to get control of Cambodia again by fighting a ten year long guerilla war. Eventually the Khmer Rouge broke up in the early 1990s.
Extent of the genocide[change | change source]
Pol Pot was responsible for the Cambodian genocide, the systematic persecution and killing of Cambodians that the Khmer Rouge regarded as enemies. The genocide, coupled with malnutrition and poor medical care, killed between 1.5 and 2 million people, approximately a quarter of Cambodia's population.
Death[change | change source]
On the evening of April 15, 1998, just 2 days before anniversary of Khmer Rouge's takeover of Cambodia, on April 17, 1975, Pol Pot died of a possible heart attack, in his hut in the jungle. Some believe he killed himself with poison to avoid trial. On his death face, there were signs of suffering, with his one eye open (sign of poisoning). Pol Pot was cremated without any ceremony.
Footnotes[change | change source]
- "BBC – History – Historic Figures: Pol Pot (1925–1998)". BBC. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Chandler, David (23 August 1999). "Pol Pot". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- Kiernan, Ben 2003. The demography of genocide in Southeast Asia: the death tolls in Cambodia, 1975–79, and East Timor, 1975–80. Critical Asian Studies. 35 (4): 585–97.
- Heuveline, Patrick 2001. The Demographic Analysis of Mortality Crises: The Case of Cambodia, 1970–1979. Forced Migration and Mortality. National Academies Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-309-07334-9.
- "Pol Pot is the Dead One Lying Down: Nate Thayer is the Live One Standing". Nate Thayer.
- "Pol Pot 'suicide' to avoid US trial". The Independent. 22 October 2011. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
- "The Dispatch - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.