Pol Pot was an infamous Cambodian politician of the 20th century. He was a revolutionary leader who led the Khmer Rouge movement. During his leadership in Cambodia, he introduced harsh and inhumane policies that brought much suffering to people. He was accused of causing the death of many people in Cambodia during his totalitarian rule from 1975 to 1979 when he was overthrown by the Vietnamese invasion. Millions of Cambodians have died as a result of torture, executions, hunger, disease and forced labor.
- First years of life
Pol Pot was born in May 1925 in a small village in Cambodia. His parents called him Saloth Sar. His relatively wealthy parents took him to various French language schools. Sar behaved badly in his studies and failed to get a place in high school. He started carpentry in a nearby technical school. In 1949, he obtained a scholarship in Paris to study radio electronics. In Paris, he joined a communist movement known as the “Marxist Circle” and adopted his new name “Pol Pot”. He spent most of his time in revolutionary campaigns instead of studying. As a result, his examination failed. Pol was forced to return to Cambodia after his scholarship was withdrawn.
- Rise to power
On his return to Cambodia in 1953, Pol was determined to start a revolution in the country. He led an underground communist group called the Khmer Rouge. He also took up a teaching position at a private school in Phnom Penh. Pol has continued to build his communist group over the years. In 1963, he fled the city for fear that the police would capture him. He moved to rural areas where he set up guerrilla camps to fight the government. The Khmer Rouge movement advanced in the remote villages of Cambodia as Pol Pot’s influence grew. In April 1975, Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge movement to overthrow the government and conquer the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Immediately, Pol Pot took over the leadership of Cambodia.
- The challenges
Pol’s mission to transform Cambodia into a communist country has encountered difficulties. Initially, he lacked the support and resources needed to gain control of Cambodia. The Vietnamese did not offer their support in an attempt to overthrow the government. The Cambodian police also posed a threat to him when they arrested someone with communist ties. He had to flee the city to avoid arrest. After assuming leadership of Cambodia, some of his subordinates disappointed him by giving him false information. The agents told him that everything was fine when reality was against it. After four devastating years in Cambodia, the Vietnamese invaded the country and removed Pol Pot from his position. He fled to Thailand and later lived his life hiding in the jungle.
After Pol Pot took control of Cambodia, millions of city dwellers were evacuated from their homes. They were forced to work on farms in rural areas. Its purpose was to transform Cambodia into a self-sustaining communist nation that relied solely on agriculture. He abolished religion, money, ownership of private property and selected books. Pol Pot was also against Westernization. Academics, government officials, Buddhist monks and merchants were executed under his command. Many people who worked on farms died because of too much work. Thousands of others died of hunger.
- Death and inheritance
It is said that the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot was the most brutal regime of the 20th century. Near 3 it is said that millions of people died between 1975 and 1979 when he was the governor of Cambodia. He died in the jungle in April 15, 1998, where he was placed under house arrest for his crimes against humanity and was being handed over to an international court.