A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF CAMBODIAN DICTATOR POL POT

By Tim Lambert

Pol Pot was one of the worst tyrants of the 20th century. Pol Pot was born in Cambodia in 1925. His family were not poor. Instead his father was a well off farmer. However Pol Pot became a Marxist.

Marxism was the creation of Karl Marx (1818-1883). According to him society went through an inevitable series of stages ending in Communism. The workers, he said, would inevitably rise up against the capitalists and Capitalism would be replaced by Socialism in which the state would own industry. However the state would 'wither away' leaving a classless society or Communism. Needless to say the promised utopia never materialized. Marxism was a foolish dream.

Pol Pot joined the Communist Party in 1946. In 1949 Pol Pot won a scholarship to study electronics in Paris. He returned to Cambodia in 1953 and by 1963 he was head of the party. Meanwhile in 1956 Pol Pot married Khieu Ponnary.

In 1975 a horrific and tragic era of Cambodian history began the reign of the Khmer Rouge. They were led by Pol Pot also known as 'Brother Number One'. How many people were killed by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge is not known for certain but it was probably at least 1.5 million and it may have been as many as 3 million. Pol Pot declared that history would begin again in Cambodia. The first year of revolution was now the first year of history.

In 1975 Cambodia was a mainly agricultural country. Pol Pot decided it should be completely agricultural. This meant all the people from the towns and cities were forced to move to the countryside. Pol Pot also decided that agricultural output should double in 4 years (a totally unrealistic target). Private property was banned and collective farms were formed. They were supposed to grow 3 tonnes of rice per hectare (again a completely unrealistic target). People were made to work very long hours to try and grow the extra rice. They were given insufficient food and many fell ill and died from a combination of exhaustion and malnutrition.

That was not all. Like all Communists Pol Pot was an atheist so religion was banned. People caught practicing Buddhism were executed and Buddhist temples were desecrated. Family relationships were banned (on the grounds that parents exploited their children). Furthermore the smallest infringement of the rules resulted in execution. Although they were half starved people caught foraging for food were executed. People were also executed for being lazy. Needless to say anyone who complained was executed.

Furthermore the Khmer Rouge murdered intellectuals. Soon people who could speak a foreign language or who wore glasses were executed. This nightmarish situation was only ended by a war with Vietnam. The Vietnamese invaded in December 1978 and quickly prevailed. Unfortunately Pol Pot escaped and he did not die until 1998.

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