Modern Genocide: the Killing Fields of Cambodia

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The Killing Fields of Cambodia: 1975-1979

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………... Page 3

II. GEOGRAPHY……………………………………………………….. Page 3

III. THE PEOPLE……………………………………………………….. Page 4

IV.HISTORY…………………………………………………………….. Page 6

V.POL POT AND THE KHMER ROUGE…………………….……. Page 7

VI.THE EXODUS…………………………………………………..….. Page 10

VII.END OF THE KHMER ROUGE………………………………….. Page 13

VIII. U.S. RESPONSE…………………………………………………... Page 15

IX.CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY ……………………………….. Page 18

X. CAMBODIA TODAY……………………………………………… Page 20

XI. CONCLUSIONS AND THOUGHTS………………………………Page 21

XII. REFERENCES……………………………………………………… Page 22

I. INTRODUCTION

As a small country with weak political, economic, and military structure, Cambodia has suffered for centuries from poor leadership and outside influence. The Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979, in which approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (21% of the country's population), was one of the worst diabolical tragedies the world has laid witness to. The Khmer Rouge -- the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea -- was the totalitarian ruling party in Cambodia led ruthlessly by Pol Pot. The Khmer Rouge forced an entire population into rural manual labor under brutal supervision.

II. GEOGRAPHY

Cambodia is geographically situated between India and China, bordered by vast woodlands and plains, which cover 70% of the country. These densely populated flat plains, formed by the basin of the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap (lake), provide ideal conditions for rice cultivation, the heartland of Cambodia economy. The Mekong River is the 12th largest river in the world. The Tonle Sap, also referred to as the Great Lake, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is around the vicinity of Lake Tonle Sap and the Mekong that the densest concentration of people are found. Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C around April. The jungles of Cambodia are home to a variety of birds, tigers, wild cats, buffaloes, monkeys, elephants, and various types of snakes. The Mekong River and the Tonle Sap undergoes a very unique phenomenon every year. During the rainy season, the Mekong River flowing through the capital city if Phnom Penh, discharges its excess water where it finally accumulates at the lake of Tonle Sap. When this happens, the surface area of the late expands enormously, forming a sea of over 13,000 square kilometers, whose waters yield enormous catches of fish each year. Over one million people earn their living directly from fishing and some three million live around the lake. Despite these natural resources, Cambodia still remains as on the world’s poorest countries, with an estimated per capita GDP of under $100.

III. THE PEOPLE

The overwhelming majority of the Cambodian population is rural. The country’s capital, Phnom Penh, is home to over one million people and is more than eight times the size of the largest town, Battambang, which has around 125,000 inhabitants. In 1970, 80% of the population was composed of ethnic Khmers, who follow Buddhist religion and teachings. Khmers are devoutly religions, practicing the Therava strain of Buddhism. One of the greatest horrors of the Pol Pot was the government’s attempt to stop religion. The central focus of village life is the Buddhist temple. The men are of small stature and dark complexion, but many of the women are fair in complexion. The majority of Khmers are peasants, farming and fishing the land along the riverbanks the same way as their remote ancestors. Those that inhabit the mountainsides follow traditional slash...
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