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Assess the impact of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime on Cambodia 1975 1978

The Khmer Rouge and its leader Pol Pot flailed Cambodia with its regime, carrying through one of the most apathetic genocides in recent history. On the 17th of April 1975 the Khmer Rouge began its tenure in Phnom Penh and promptly began a massacre, perpetuating fear and death for the next 3 years. The regime was propelled by four key paradigms in terms of a social revolution; the zealous desire to purge Western influence and foreigners in society, the dissolving of religion and establishing a communal lifestyle which harks back to the communistic influences on Pol Pot. Essentially, they wanted cultural and racial purity but in fact rendered diplomatic isolation, a devastated population and extensive economic damage. Never sobered by the absolute power they held, the Khmer Rouge attempted to purify Cambodia and restructure society. To an extent their goals were actualized, but not without the slaughter of millions and alienation of an entire country. One of the foremost aims of the Khmer Rouge was to cleanse the Cambodian society of any racial impurities, targeting all racial minorities and intensifying the racist flavour of the regimes ideologies. They sought to repress and target minorities such as the Muslim Cham people, the Montagnards and eradicate Vietnamese involvement. The regime was possessed by xenophobia, erasing these divergent cultures with the set up of death camps and interrogation centers. In Cambodia, 90% of the population was Buddhist and entire provinces of Muslims existed. A number in excess of 100 000 of Muslims and Buddhists came under the breath of the Khmer Rouge and an unimaginable minority survived. This nihilistic attitude towards religious and cultural minorities totally disorientated the Cambodian population and was a precursor to the ruthless diffusion of society that was to come. As well as this, it destabilized international relations with other countries, who were appalled by the ethnic cleansing and jingoistic profile of the Khmer Rouge. This would lead to total diplomatic isolation and articulate the sectarianism that was present in the ideologies of the regime. Tying in with the Khmer Rouges xenophobia, was the abolishment of any Western and thus modern, influences. The nature of this radicalized revolutionary theory could be seen in the literalism of the Khmer Rouges actions; the streets were littered with washing machines, refrigerators, cars and an assortment of discarded technology. This movement to obliterate all evidence of Western culture was present from day one of the regime. The Khmer Rouge coined the beginning of this decimation of society as Year Zero. Authorities banned the use of electricity and medicine, destroying all hospitals and machinery. This called for the evacuation of urban communities and cities, which were reminiscent of the structured societies of the Western world. This included the complete severing of foreign trade and aid, consequently leading to the continual presence of famine and pestilence that insured the backward progress of the country. The regime also called for the systematic displacement of an entire economy. Currency was deemed a creation of western theories and therefore banks, trade and businesses

became nonexistent. With this, a central class was created, devoid of individuality and it established Cambodia as a primitive society. This complete disregard for any form of economy rendered the country an extreme socialist nation, which would take decades to recover and stabilize. To this day, Cambodia still does not claim a holistic place within the world economy. The lasting impacts of such a purge of capital and economic structure have desecrated an entire society and much of the country remains in poverty. This leveling of Cambodian society gave the Khmer Rouge much leeway to distribute the classes of the community. Cambodia became a communal, agricultural country, Pol Pot believing that this radical egalitarianism would lead to a harmonious existence. The believed human life to be expendable and thus were ruthless with their implementation of a classless state. The family was condemned, as children held loyalty for their parents above the state, privacy became a foreign and illicit concept and meals were eaten communally. Even marriages were distributed among the population and to emphasis Pol Pots desire to revert the entire nation into equal commune workers; everyone was made to wear black peasant pajamas. Discretion was not tolerated and the Khmer Rouge established co-operatives across the country with communal eating and working. This collectivisation of land and eating incurred wide-spread famine and demoralization, to smoothen the wide-scale deportation of peasants the Khmer Rouge slaughtered masses who showed the smallest sign of resistance. The immensity of this operation defies understanding and the Khmer Rouge did not care at all for the welfare of the population. By 1976, the extreme measures taken to enforce communal living brought starvation and malnutrition. Since great quantities of these collectivized workers were previously urban dwellers, they lacked any agricultural knowledge and thus killed by their lack of virtue. Such inefficient farming methods and mass killings accelerated the decline of education and morals as the population witnessed such ruthless indifference to human life, or as the Khmer Rouge said, To spare you is no profit. To destroy you is no loss. The Khmer Rouge was initially influenced by socialism and communism, with their brand of social revolution known as Radical Agricultural Marxism. Once undertaken, it was the clear the only purpose of RAM was to convert the entire country into one of uneducated, rural peasants. As observed, an intense imposition of fear tactics was used to achieve this ideal. Angkar Loeu was the faceless government that controlled Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge rule. By now, the Khmer Rouge had achieved most of its aims; cleansing Cambodia of any racial minorities, eradication any modern influences of medicine, education and economic structure and restructuring an entire society into labour communes. The Khmer Rouge wiped out Cambodias bourgeois class through the countless floods of mass murder and forced labour which ravaged Cambodia and the per capita income was zero. At the end of this implementation of communes, Cambodia became a definitive classless state. Another significant aspect of the Khmer Rouge regime was the intolerance for educated Cambodians and intellects. This included doctors, professors, teachers and even professional dancers. Any outlets of intellects, such as museums and theaters were also

demolished as it distracted the labour workforce and were monuments of western values. This expulsion of intellects sapped Cambodia of its energy and would lessen its chances of recovering as an economy and society. The slaughter of doctors also contributed to the rise in pestilence that would be a factor in the deaths of thousands. The ignorance of the regime can also be seen through the conversion of the National Library into a pigsty and the money of the National Bank being left in the gutters of the street. This eradication of the necessities for an economy and country would throw Cambodia back thousands of years and deflate the countries efforts for recovery after the downfall of the Khmer Rouge. It also fostered the disillusionment of millions of children who were only exposed to the education provided by Khmer Rouge leaders, injuring the minds of future generations who were to be responsible for the reconstruction of an entire country. The paranoia of Pol Pot was most evident in his purging and repurging of his own party. In 1976 the first purge of Pol Pots Khmer Rouge occurred, after minor disagreements over policies and what not. Eventually, thousands of loyal members came under interrogation in Tuol Sleng, an execution center converted from a high school. An estimated figure of 15000 people were housed in Tuol Sleng, only a few survived. A great number of Pol Pots officers were killed which contributed to the Khmer Rouges own downfall. Cambodia became an economically and diplomatically isolated country, Pol Pot banning the influence of any outside societies. However, Pol Pots initial idea for the Khmer Rouge stemmed from the Chinese Cultural Revolution and thus he maintained valuable ties with Mao Zedong. But Chinas regard for Cambodia was not because of their somewhat similar ideological bonds, but for the geopolitical benefits that with it. Pol Pot believed that these ties with China gave him a sort of insurance policy, as tension with Vietnam was rising. However, this did not deter Vietnam from invading Cambodia on Christmas day of 1978, where Phnom Penh subsequently fell to the Vietnamese army. Soon after, the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot fled the ravaged country. The Khmer Rouge only possessed a rudimentary knowledge of revolutionary theories, and Pol Pot admitted to his operations in Cambodia as an experiment. This denotes the ruthlessness and indifference that the regime plundered Cambodia with, that would leave the country in a state of economic ruin, diplomatic isolation and devoid of any classes and organisation. As well as this, the invasion of Vietnam in 1978 brought upon the 3rd Indochinese war that would diminish any hopes of normality in Cambodia for the next 10 years. At the conclusion of this systematic terror and devastation inflicted by the Khmer Rouge, the true nature of Pol Pots genocide can be expressed in his last dying words My conscience is clear.