Pol Pot Biography
Born to a prosperous farmer in Prek Sbauv, French Cambodia. His parents educated Pol Pot at some of Cambodia’s elite schools.
In the 1940s, he moved to Paris, France, where he joined the French Communist Party and adopted Marxism–Leninism.
Returning to Cambodia in 1953, he joined the Marxist–Leninist Khmer Việt Minh organisation in its guerrilla war against King Norodom Sihanouk’s newly independent government.
To avoid state repression, in 1962 he relocated to a Việt Cộng jungle encampment before visiting Hanoi and Beijing. In 1968, he re-launched the war against Sihanouk.
After five years of savage fighting, Khmer Rouge defeated the Republican government on 17 April 1975. The victorious Pol Pot proclaimed the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea.
Pol Pot’s government forcibly relocated the urban population to the countryside to work on collective farms. Those regarded as enemies of the new government were killed.
These mass killings, coupled with malnutrition, strenuous working conditions, and poor medical care, killed between 1.5 and 3 million people of a population of roughly 8 million (about 25% of population).
Marxist–Leninists unhappy with Pol Pot’s government encouraged Vietnamese intervention.
However, Pol Pot forced Vietnam’s hand by attacking villages in Vietnam and massacring their villagers. In December 1978, the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, toppling Pol Pot’s government in 1979.
Pol Pot Genocide
Pol pot forced Cambodians to relocate to labor camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labor, physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were prevalent.
This resulted in the death of approximately 25 percent of Cambodia’s total population.
Approximately 20,000 people passed through the Tuol Sleng Centre (also known as Security Prison S-21), one of the 196 prisons operated by the Khmer Rouge, and only 7 adults survived.
The prisoners were taken to the Killing Fields. Pol Pot government executed them(often with pickaxes in order to save bullets) and buried in mass graves.
The abduction and indoctrination of children was widespread, and many were persuaded or forced to commit atrocities.
The genocide triggered a second outflow of refugees, many of whom escaped to neighboring Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, Thailand. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia ended the genocide by defeating the Khmer Rouge in 1979
Pol Pot Death
On the night of 15 April 1998, two days before the 23rd anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh, the Voice of America, of which Pol Pot was a devoted listener, announced that the Khmer Rouge had agreed to turn him over to an international tribunal.
He was sitting in his chair waiting for the car to come. But he felt tired. His wife asked him to take a rest. He laid down on his bed.
His wife heard a gasp of air. It was the sound of dying. When she touched him he had already died. It was at 10:15 that night. Pol Pot died of a lethal dose of a combination of Valium and chloroquine.
Pol Pot Quotes
Since he is of no use anymore, there is no gain if he lives and no loss if he dies.
First, I would like to tell you that I came to carry out the struggle, not to kill people. Even now, and you can look at me, am I savage person? My conscience is clear.
Our policy was to provide an affluent life for the people. There were mistakes made in carrying it out. Several thousand people may have died.
Pol Pot Daughter
In 1986, his new wife Mea Son gave birth to a daughter, Sitha, (now Sar Patchata, wed in 2014), named after the heroine of the Khmer religious epic, the Reamker.
The brutal dictator had treated his only daughter, then known as Mea Sith, well right until the end.
Pol Pot Totalitarianism
His regime was highly autocratic, xenophobic, paranoid, and repressive. The genocide was in part the result of the regime’s social engineering policies.
Its attempts at agricultural reform through collectivisation led to widespread famine while its insistence on absolute self-sufficiency, even in the supply of medicine, led to the death of many thousands from treatable diseases such as malaria.
The Khmer Rouge’s racist emphasis on national purity included several genocides of Cambodian minorities.
Pol Pot cadres carried out arbitrary executions and torture were carried out by its against perceived subversive elements, or during genocidal purges of its own ranks between 1975 and 1978.
Pol Pot Facts
Although raised in a religious family, Pol Pot maintained an atheistic attitude later in life.
During his childhood, Pol Pot developed a love of music and romantic French poetry, with the work of Paul Verlaine being among his favorites.
He was introspective and highly reclusive.