Khmer Rouge (China)
Government (Vietnamese)





Cambodia state

Thailand state


A former French colony which gained its independence in 1954 as a result of the French defeat in Vietnam. The government was controlled by the King, Sihanouk, who later renounced the throne but continued to rule as Head of State.

During the Vietnam war Cambodia remained officially neutral but was unable to prevent the North Vietnamese from using the eastern part of the country as a supply route from north to south Vietnam. The Americans bombed this part of the country with carpet bombs destroying large areas and demoralizing the surviving population and destroying civilized life. An American sponsored coup overthrew Sihanouk followed by an American occupation of large parts of the country. When the Americans left Viet Nam and Cambodia the rebel Communist forces, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot took over the country.

The Khmer Rouge abandoned the cities and ordered the inhabitants into the countryside where money was abolished and any educated persons known to them were killed. Several million people are believed to have been killed. The use of machines (other than weapons) was forbidden.

When the Khmer Rouge army then attacked Viet Nam the latter invaded and drove the Khmer Rouge into the refugee camps of Thailand and remote areas of the country. A new government was set up by the Vietnamese but it was not recognized by the rest of the world who continued to recognize Pol Pot as the "legitimate" government despite his atrocities.

The Khmer Rouge, allegedly allied with Sihanouk and other forces, then tried to regain control of the country with the help of the Chinese and the covert assistance of various western powers. The Vietnamese army left the country in 1989 but the government they left behind was still not recognized, though it appeared to have popular support.

A large UN force policed the country during the transition to elections and then withdrew.

A UN transitional administration supervised elections to hand over to a legitimate Cambodian government. The Khmer Rouge refused to cooperate and seem to intend to escalate the war if given the opportunity. The war continued at a low but increasing intensity. However, in 1996 the death of Pol Pot was announced (and eventually confirmed) and the party began to fall apart, giving hope for an end to the war. By 2002 there is only 'ordinary' banditry and crime.

In October 2008 there are reports of border disputes with Thailand - a historic enemy.

Interesting reading

Haing S. Ngor - Survival in the Killing Fields

Une odyssée cambodgienne


The Killing Fields [1984]

The Killing Fields - Schreiendes Land (Arthaus Premium Edition - 2 DVDs)

La Déchirure

Last revised 18/10/08


World Info


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