← 1975–1979 →
Flag Coat of arms Anthem
Dap Prampi Mesa Chokchey
Glorious Seventeenth of April
Capital Phnom Penh Language(s) Khmer language Government Totalitarian Single-party state, Communist State, Military Dictatorship President of the State Presidium - 1975–1976 Norodom Sihanouk
(as Prince of Cambodia)
- 1976–1982 Khieu Samphan - 1982–1992 Norodom Sihanouk Head of Government - 1975–1976 Samdech Penn Nouth - 1976 Khieu Samphan - 1976–1982 Pol Pot (also party leader from April 17, 1975 to January 7, 1979) - 1982–1992 Son Sann Legislature Representative Assembly Historical era Cold War - Civil War 1967–1975 - Established April 17, 1975 - Fall of Phnom Penh January 7, 1979 - CGDK formed June 22, 1982 - Vietnamese troops redrawn 1989 - Renamed to Cambodia 1990 - UNTAC established February 1979 Currency None, as there was none.
Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer: ) is the name of the Khmer Rouge-controlled Socialist organisation that between 1975 and 1979 ruled the Southeast Asia country of Cambodia. It was founded when the Khmer Rouge forces defeated the Lon Nol-led Khmer Republic. After losing control of most of Cambodian territory to Vietnamese occupation, it survived as a shadow state supported by China. In June 1982, the Khmer Rouge formed the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea with two non-communist guerilla factions, keeping the international recognition. The state was renamed back to Cambodia in 1990 in the run up to the UN-sponsored Paris Peace Agreement conference of 1991.
The Khmer Rouge were heavily influenced by Maoism, the French Communist Party and the writings of Marx and Lenin, as well as the ideas of Khmer racial superiority. This resulted in the drive to create both an ethnically pure and classless Khmer society, which made the Khmer Rouge regime reminiscent of both Communism and National Socialism, or fascism, according to some scholars. Others reject the notion that the regime was fascist on the basis that the Khmer Rouge lacked protection for private property. The governing body was referred to as "Angkar Loeu" (upper organization). The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) leadership referred to themselves as "Angkar Padevat" during this period. Its constitution defined it as a "State of the people, workers, peasants, and all other Kampuchean labourers"
Under the leadership of Pol Pot, cities were emptied, organized religion was abolished, and private property, money and markets were eliminated. An unprecedented genocide campaign ensued that led to annihilation of about 20% of the country's population, with much of the killing being motivated by Khmer Rouge ideology which urged "disproportionate revenge" against rich and powerful "oppressors." Victims included such class enemies as rich "capitalists," professionals, intellectuals, police and government employees (including most of Lon Nol's leadership), along with ethnic minorities such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Lao, Cham.
The genocide was essentially stopped only in 1979 by invasion of Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation and People's Army of Vietnam troops, following which the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) was installed. The PRK had a pro-Soviet government, which started to recreate the totally devastated country. This process was significantly hampered by defeated Khmer Rouge forces, which regrouped along the border with Thailand and retained the structure of the DK state in the regions they controlled. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the People's Republic of China, the Khmer Rouge's strongest supporter, and most Western nations continued to recognize DK as the legitimate government of the country.
In 1970, Premier Lon Nol and the National Assembly deposed Norodom Sihanouk as the head of state. Sihanouk, opposing the new government, entered into an alliance with the Khmer Rouge against them. Taking advantage of Vietnamese occupation of eastern Cambodia, massive U.S. carpet bombing ranging across the country, and Sihanouk's reputation, the Khmer Rouge were able to present themselves as a peace-oriented party in a coalition that represented the majority of the people.
With large popular support in the countryside, they were able to take the capital Phnom Penh on 17 April 1975. They continued to use King Norodom Sihanouk as a figurehead for the government until 2 April 1976 when Sihanouk resigned as head of state. Sihanouk remained under comfortable, but insecure, house arrest in Phnom Penh, until late in the war with Vietnam he departed for the United States where he made Democratic Kampuchea's case before the Security Council. He eventually relocated to China.
In January 1976 the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) promulgated the “Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea”. The Constitution provided for a “Kampuchean People's Representative Assembly” (“KPRA”) to be elected by secret ballot in direct general elections and a State Praesidium to be selected and appointed every five years by the KPRA. The KPRA met only once in April 1976. The members of the KPRA, however, were never elected; the Central Committee of CPK appointed the chairman and other high officials both to it and to the State Praesidium. Plans for elections of members were discussed, but the 250 members of the KPRA were in fact appointed by the upper echelon of CPK.
Actually all power belonged to the Standing Committee of CPK, the membership of which was comprised by the Secretary and Prime Minister Pol Pot, his Deputy Secretary Nuon Chea and seven others. Its daily work was conducted from Office 870 in Phnom Penh. Office 870 and the Standing Committee were known also as the “Centre”, the “Organization,” or “Angkar”.
The Khmer Rouge destroyed the legal and judicial structures of the Khmer Republic. There were no courts, judges, laws or trials in Democratic Kampuchea. The “people’s courts” stipulated in Article 9 of the Constitution were never established. The old legal structures were replaced by re-education, interrogation and security centres where former Khmer Republic officials and supporters, as well as others, were detained and executed.
Immediately after the fall of Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge evacuated the city, spreading rumours that American soldiers were planning to bomb the city. The roads out of the city were clogged with evacuees. Phnom Penh —the population of which, numbering 2.5 million people, included as many as 1.5 million wartime refugees living with relatives or in urban center—was soon nearly empty. Similar evacuations occurred at Battambang, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, and in other towns.
The Khmer Rouge justified the evacuations in terms of the impossibility of transporting sufficient food to feed an urban population of between 2 and 3 million people. Lack of adequate transportation meant that, instead of bringing food to the people, the people had to be brought to the food. The Khmer Rouge was determined to turn the country into a nation of peasants in which the corruption and "parasitism" of city life would be completely uprooted. Communalization was implemented by putting men, women and children to work in the fields, which disrupted family life. The regime claimed to have “liberated” women through this process, and according to Zal Karkaria, "appeared to have implemented Engels's doctrine in its purest form: women produced, therefore they had been freed." On the surface, society in Democratic Kampuchea was strictly egalitarian. This was not the case in practice, however. Members and candidate members of the CPK, local-level leaders of poor peasant background who collaborated with the Angkar, and members of the armed forces had a higher standard of living than the rest of the population.
Ironically, considering the intensity of their revolutionary ideology, the Khmer Rouge leadership practiced nepotism to a level that nearly matched that of the Sihanouk-era elite. Family ties were important, both because of the culture and because of the leadership's intense secretiveness and distrust of outsiders, especially of pro-Vietnamese communists. Greed was also a motive. Different ministries, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry, were controlled and exploited by powerful Khmer Rouge families. Administering the diplomatic corps was regarded as an especially profitable fiefdom.
Immediately following the Khmer Rouge victory in 1975, there were skirmishes between their troops and Vietnamese forces. A number of incidents occurred in May 1975. The following month, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary visited Hanoi. They proposed a friendship treaty between the two countries, an idea that met with a cool reception from Vietnam's leaders.
Faced with growing Khmer Rouge belligerence, the Vietnamese leadership decided in early 1978 to support internal resistance to the Pol Pot regime, with the result that the Eastern Zone became a focus of insurrection. War hysteria reached bizarre levels within Democratic Kampuchea. In May 1978, on the eve of So Phim's Eastern Zone uprising, Radio Phnom Penh declared that if each Cambodian soldier killed thirty Vietnamese, only 2 million troops would be needed to eliminate the entire Vietnamese population of 50 million. It appears that the leadership in Phnom Penh was seized with immense territorial ambitions, i.e., to recover the Mekong Delta region, which they regarded as Khmer territory.
Massacres of ethnic Vietnamese and of their sympathizers by the Khmer Rouge intensified in the Eastern Zone after the May revolt. In November, Vorn Vet led an unsuccessful coup d'état. There were now tens of thousands of Cambodian and Vietnamese exiles in Vietnamese territory. On December 3, 1978, Radio Hanoi announced the formation of the Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS). This was a heterogeneous group of communist and non-communist exiles who shared an antipathy to the Pol Pot regime and a near total dependence on Vietnamese backing and protection. The KNUFNS provided the semblance, if not the reality, of legitimacy for Vietnam's invasion of Democratic Kampuchea and for its subsequent establishment of a satellite regime in Phnom Penh.
In the meantime, as 1978 wore on, Cambodian bellicosity in the border areas surpassed Hanoi's threshold of tolerance. Vietnamese policy makers opted for a military solution and, on December 22, Vietnam launched its offensive with the intent of overthrowing 'Democratic Kampuchea'. An invasion force of 120,000, consisting of combined armor and infantry units with strong artillery support, drove west into the level countryside of Cambodia's southeastern provinces. After a seventeen-day blitzkrieg, Phnom Penh fell to the advancing Vietnamese on January 7, 1979. The new administration was supported by a substantial Vietnamese military force and civilian advisory effort. As events in the 1980s progressed, the main preoccupations of the new regime were survival, restoring the economy, and combating the Khmer Rouge insurgency by military and political means.
Armed Forces of Democratic Kampuchea
The 68,000-member Khmer Rouge-dominated CPNLAF (Cambodian People's National Liberation Armed Forces) force, which completed its conquest of Cambodia in April 1975, was renamed the RAK (Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea). This name dated back to the peasant uprising that broke out in the Samlot district of Batdambang Province in 1967.
Under its long-time commander and then Minister of Defense Son Sen, the RAK had 230 battalions in 35 to 40 regiments and in 12 to 14 brigades. The command structure in units was based on three-person committees in which the political commissar ranked higher than the military commander and his deputy.
Cambodia was divided into zones and special sectors by the RAK, the boundaries of which changed slightly over the years. Within these areas, the RAK's first task upon "liberation," as a calculated policy, was the peremptory execution of former FANK officers and of their families, without trial or fanfare.
The next priority was to consolidate into a national army the separate forces that were operating more or less autonomously in the various zones. The Khmer Rouge units were commanded by zonal secretaries who were simultaneously party and military officers, some of whom were said to have manifested "warlord characteristics." Troops from one zone frequently were sent to another zone to enforce discipline. These efforts to discipline zonal secretaries and their dissident or ideologically impure cadres gave rise to the purges that were to decimate RAK ranks, to undermine the morale of the victorious army, and to generate the seeds of rebellion.
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge government did away with all former Cambodian traditional administrative divisions. Instead of provinces, Democratic Kampuchea was divided into geographic zones, derived from divisions established by the Khmer Rouge when they fought against the ill-fated Khmer Republic led by General Lon Nol. There were seven zones: The Northwest, the North, the Northeast, the East, the Southwest, the West and the Center, plus two "Special Regions": The Kratie Special Region no 505 and (before mid-1977) the Siemreap Special Region no 106. The regions were subdivided into smaller areas or damban. These were known by numbers, which were assigned without a seemingly coherent pattern.
Villages were also subdivided into 'groups' (krom) of 15–20 households who were led by a group leader (Meh Krom). This practice continued after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. It is no longer part of the official administrative system and is now unevenly applied.
- Agrarian socialism
- History of Cambodia
- French Indochina
- First Indochina War
- Vietnam War (Second Indochina War)
- Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia (1975–1979)
- People's Republic of Kampuchea (Vietnamese occupation, 1979–1989)
- The Killing Fields (film)
- ^ a b c David Chandler & Ben Kiernan, ed (1983). Revolution and its Aftermath. New Haven.
- ^ "COALITION GOVERNMENT OF DEMOCRATIC KAMPUCHEA". countrystudies.us. http://countrystudies.us/cambodia/72.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- ^ Jackson, Karl D. Cambodia, 1975–1978: Rendezvous with Death. Princeton University Press. p. 219. ISBN 069102541X.
- ^ Ervin Staub. The roots of evil: the origins of genocide and other group violence. Cambridge University Press, 1989. p. 202
- ^ a b c Helen Fein. Revolutionary and Antirevolutionary Genocides: A Comparison of State Murders in Democratic Kampuchea, 1975 to 1979, and in Indonesia, 1965 to 1966. Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct., 1993), pp. 796–823
- ^ Becker, Elizabeth. 1986. When the War Was Over. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986, p.136.
- ^ Cyprian Blamires, Paul Jackson. World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1 ABC-CLIO, 2006. ISBN 1576079406 p. 363: "In the final analysis, several typical features of fascist regimes - such as qualified protection of private property, state toleration of a national religion, and an express rejection of Marxism-Leninism in all its variants - were not in evidence during Democratic Kampuchea, and the regime cannot, as such, be considered fascist."
- ^ "Cambodia Since April 1975". Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University. http://www.seasite.niu.edu/khmer/Ledgerwood/Part2.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
- ^ "A History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975–1979)". monument-books.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20071018180334/http://monument-books.com/shop/local-publication/a-history-of-democratic-kampuchea-1975-1979.html. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
- ^ "Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea". Dccam.org. http://www.dccam.org/Archives/Documents/DK_Policy/DK_Policy_DK_Constitution.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
- ^ Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century Cornell University Press, 2004. ISBN 0801439655 p. 127.
- ^ Nicholas A. Robins, Adam Jones. Genocides by the oppressed: subaltern genocide in theory and practice. Indiana University Press, 2009. p. 98
- ^ Alexander Laban Hinton. A Head for an Eye: Revenge in the Cambodian Genocide. American Ethnologist, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Aug., 1998), pp. 352–377
- ^ Nicholas A. Robins, Adam Jones. Genocides by the oppressed: subaltern genocide in theory and practice. Indiana University Press, 2009. p. 97
- ^ a b c Zal Karkaria. Failure Through Neglect: The Women’s Policies of the Khmer Rouge in Comparative Perspective. Concordia University Department of History.
- ^ Judgement of the Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
- ^ “”. "A video on Vietnamese invasion". Youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_A1pzHJb-0. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
- ^ a video of a 1975 Khmer Rouge parade is available here 
- ^ Becker, Elizabeth (1986). When the War Was over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0671417878.
- ^ Tyner, James A. (2008). The Killing of Cambodia: Geopolitics, Genocide, and the Unmaking of Space. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 9780754670964.
- ^ Vickery, Michael (1984). Cambodia : 1975–1982. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0896081893.
- Beang, Pivoine, and Wynne Cougill. Vanished Stories from Cambodia's New People Under Democratic Kampuchea. Phnom Penh: Documentation Center of Cambodia, 2006. ISBN 9995060078
- Dy, Khamboly. A History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975–1979). Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Documentation Center of Cambodia, 2007. ISBN 9995060043 Foreword
- Etcheson, Craig. The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea. Westview special studies on South and Southeast Asia. Boulder, Colo: Westview, 1984. ISBN 0865316503
- Pescali, Piergiorgio. Indocina. Emil, Bologna, 2010. ISBN 978-88-9602-642-7
- Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea
- Dark memories of Cambodia's killing spree BBC News commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge's demise
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