Pol Pot was a diabolical Cambodian ruler whose reign (1976-1979) was nothing but a terrible Holocaust-like situation for the entire population of the country in its short three years. His government herded the innocent urban people from the cities into heavily guarded farm communes in the name of Maoist communism. There is documentation of this time when at least 1.7 million people were killed.Bones and teeth of those victims are still being washed up in the farm communes whenever the sky cries over the blood-soaked land of this South-East Asian nation.
This movement led by Pol Pot overthrew Lon Nol, the previous ruler and sent hundreds of thousands of middle class out into the agricultural fields. He believed he would create a peasant paradise, an ideal world where each person was self sufficient. It appears that he attempted to forcibly create sameness of class, and wealth to create a state of agrarian socialism. He nearly eliminated any diversity of culture,and then renamed the country Democratic Kampuchea.
Genocide is the violation of human rights based on the extermination of a national, racial, political or cultural group. According to research conducted by political scientist Barbara Harff, almost all geno/politicides occurred in the context of political upheaval. She also says almost all genocides are either ideological or retributive in nature.
Pol Pot proved it was possible for a government to kill the people of its own country and race. The communes, similar to the Nazi concentration camps soon started overflowing and were riddled with starvation and disease. The answer to this problem somehow was found in making the weakened people dig their own graves, literally, till they fell from exhaustion and then were given a bullet to ‘alleviate’ their sufferings, laid to rest in the holes they dig themselves. Many such mass graves mar the landmass of the country and are now either sites for anthropologists or are marked with memorials displaying the bones of the victims to make the people remember the not-so-distant past.
Prisoners- the educated elite, as well as Buddhist monks – were interrogated, overworked, tortured for no reason and often executed under the name of communism and the Khmer Rouge. Foreigners, especially Chinese, Vietnamese, and Muslims were also killed, and several ethnicities were diminished to paltry numbers or were simply extinguished completely.
For many of us what occurred is unreal and nearly impossible to understand as to how this could have happened and what was in this leader’s mind. However, the regime was obsessed with documenting the atrocities as in Nazi Germany. More than 10,000 photographs of the human rights violations exist, and there is a department at Yale which researches into the event’s history. It happened and it was real. Almost everyone over 40 in Cambodia has stories to tell of family members who were subjected to the insane violence that stemmed from a simple, but impossible ideological plan by the Khmer Rouge dictatorship. And there are not many such voices, as 40 above people in the country are conspicuously very less in number.
The people of Cambodia have been psychologically affected deeply. They turned to Buddhism again and some people even have tattoos so they won’t ever forget. The complications of this communist regime to create national identity have left a confusion of foreign relations and memories of violence that still linger today
Pol Pot just passed away of a heart attack in April 15, 1998 but rumour has it that he committed suicide, much like Hitler. His body was identified by journalists, similar to the way Marlow finds Kurtz in the middle of the Congolese jungle in Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness. Some believe he was somehow killed by the current supporters of Khmer Rouge to cover up the atrocities.Major Khmer Rouge figures are being put on trial in recent years. Many of them admit that they cooperated with the regime because they were threatened with death themselves.
The atrocities are only a recent history for the Cambodians, lest they forget, the soil riddled with the skeletons of their kin will forever serve as a reminder as it upchucks more of Pol Pot’s crimes.