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Cambodia, 1975-82

Exodus from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1975

The peasant revolt which led to Pol Pot taking control of Cambodia 1975 to 1979 resulted in many deaths and the emptying of cities which caused much hunger and distress, imposed cooperative labour, inter-family violence, a forced diet which symbolised Communist repression in Democratic Kampuchea (DK) from 1975 to1979. By 1976, the worst excesses of the Pol Pot reign of terror were over according to survivors. Pot Pot identified 1-2% or 80-160,000 people as enemies, thereby explaining the sporadic executions during 1975, in particular army officers from the previous Lon Nol administration. Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia created a vacuum which the Khmer Rouge gladly filled.

In 1946-54 one quarter of the Cambodian population were forcibly regrouped during this first Indochina war against French colonialism. Cambodia had a history of resistance to colonialism. Interviews with the quoted author who lived in Cambodia since 1960, took place 1980-82 in refugee camps so that the quoted author was able to dispel myths about wholesale slaughter throughout Cambodia during the DK years. The first act of the DK victors was the mass evacuation of towns and cities thereby alienating city dwellers. These people were dispersed throughout the country to increase the rice and general food supplies. Crop yields in newly cleared forest plots were twice as high as recently abandoned farm plots in 1976. The CIA claimed that by January 1979 the population was reduced from c. 7 million to 5.8 million.

In 1979 Vietnam invaded Cambodia and removed Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from power, with a new master installed did anything improve? By 1982 with the return of Prince Sihanouk, his faction was openly despised by the KPNLF leaders, his entourage consisted of incompetent and corrupt courtiers. This represented the best regime Cambodia has had since 1970, with the attendant economic failure confirming the predictions of orthodox Marxism. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge relocated to refugee camps on the border with Thailand from where they continued influencing the situation in Cambodia.

Cambodia of DK resembles utopia as envisaged by Thomas Moore, the rigidly egalitarian communism, identical clothes and houses, identical fixed working hours, mass lectures, communal farms, communal dining halls, shifting of children out of families, strict rules on sexual morality, no money and contempt for gold. Utopian features are are often combined with violence manifesting Russia's Bakunin's anarchist program.

This writer was interviewed by the Irish Red Cross to work in Cambodia. Unknown to this writer the Irish Red Cross board was removed due to financial irregularities, so, no sojourn to Cambodia, the most mined country worldwide.

Prime Minister Samdech - an honorary title - Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for 38 years, employing such tactics as banning popular rival parties, jailing critics, silencing independent media, vote buying and crude violence. Hun Sen wants his son as his successor, Hun Manet. Cambodia is not reported on as it is China's closest ally southeast Asia. The next election is a foregone conclusion.

Source: Cambodia, 1975-82, Michael Vickery, Silkworm Books


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