At that time, Cambodia was a part of French Indochina. When POI Pot was born, he was given the name Sloth Sara; he did not take on the name POI Pot until 1976. When Sara was a young boy he was sent to live in Phonon Penn with his elder siblings who had ties to the royal palace and the royal family, On account of Cars family ties to the royal family during the sass and sass he, as well as many other Cambodia who lived in the palace, existed in isolation from impeding influences like the global economic depression.
In the palace, Sara entered into an entirely Cambodia world, free from Vietnamese and Chinese Influences; also, Sloth Sara, more than likely “absorbed or overheard entrench sentiments that were wide-spread among Cambodia officials”. Therefore, the time at the palace, strengthened Sara’s Khmer identity. Living in Phonon Penn, Sloth Sara had access to education. After completing primary school, Sloth Sara was one of twenty Cambodia boys to be selected as the first class to attend the College Nonrandom Shannon in 1942.
The school was located In Compton Champ. Several of Sara’s classmates at Nonrandom Shannon later became Communists. Kavas Siphon a teacher at the school who taught the boys math, physics and philosophy Is said to be Sloth Sara’s first role model. Siphon was remembered as “honest, Inspiring, loving and helpful” ;the way many witnesses described Sloth Sara before his reign in Cambodia. At Nonrandom Occasions Sara remained a mediocre student; upon failing the entrance exam for high school he attended a school in Phonon Penn studying carpentry.
However, in 1949 he received a scholarship from the Cambodia Government to continue his education In Pairs, France. In Paris, Sloth Sara was formally introduce to communism. Five of the twenty-one young men Sloth Sara traveled to Paris with later became influential in the Cambodia Communist Movement. These men joined the Communist party because it was the popular thing to do at the time; communism offered exciting possibilities to many and communism was presented as the party of choice for the global future.
Cars associations and friends he made while studying in Pairs “had a decisive influence on his careВ«. The most Important one to mention Is Nils Tarantellas wilt lend Sara; Sara was also a citizen of Cambodia on scholarship in Paris. While Sloth Sara’s school life suffered during his time in France, the roots of his political life were formed. He became obsessed with communism and the belief system behind it. Sloth Sara failed to take his school examinations; as a result, Sara lost his scholarship and returned home in 1952 with no formal degree.
However, the knowledge and experiences he gained in Pairs concerning his political affiliations would later set him up to be the leader of the Khmer Rouge. In 1950, Cambodia students who were studying in France formed a “Marxist Circle affiliated to the French Communist Party as its Khmer-language section”. This leftist group talked about ways to improve the lives of the common people One of the leaders of this circle was lend Sara; POI Pot Joined as a member but was rather inactive. Sara “attended irregularly, kept in the background, and made little impression on his colleagues”.
However, a quote from Sara at these meetings later emerged in 1976; the source quoted Sloth Sara as saying the following: Without a solidly built and solidly directed Party, no theory can be applied and the enemies of socialism will profit from these occasions to replace the leadership. I will direct the revolutionary organization; I will be its secretary general, I will hold the dossiers, I will control the ministers and I will see to it that they don’t deviate from the line fixed in the people’s interest by the central committee.
This quote brings us insight into Sloth Sara’s intentions concerning the future of his country as well as his goal to stabilize and fortify security in Cambodia; this would allow the country the opportunity to prosper. From this quote and his actions after he returned to Cambodia it appears that Sloth Sara planned to be the leader in a Cambodia revolution that was already brewing. In 1951, Sloth Sara delved deeper into the possibilities of the Communist movement. He had Just returned from a “labor battalion in the renegade Communist state of Yugoslavia”. His experience in Yugoslavia was exciting to say the least.
The country was banding together in preparation for a potential Soviet invasion; everywhere, roads, factories, railroads, and hydraulic centers were being built. This was Sara’s first introduction to large scale social manipulation and public works. At the point it was at, Yugoslavia appeared to be a country filled with hope, possibilities, industrialization, and unity; Yugoslavia was a positive example of what communism could do for a country. The exciting transformations that were occurring in Yugoslavia were most certainly an impact on Sloth Sara’s views of communism and the potentials it could offer Cambodia and the
Khmer people. Sloth Sara desired to see a change in his country and society because he felt that the oppression and injustices his people were subject to was a crime of French Imperialism and the monarchy. He believed that his country would be able to prosper once these two factors were taken out of the political equation. Sara desired to build Cambodia economy as well as institute individual liberties. Sloth Sara formally Joined the French Communist Party in 1952 before he returned to Cambodia. After losing his scholarship to study in France, Sloth Sara returned back to
Cambodia in 1953 where political tensions between the democrats who controlled the National Assembly and Prince Nonrandom Shannon were on the rise. Shortly before Sara returned back to Cambodia, Prince Shannon had dissolved the National Assembly, Localisms ten Democratic cadent, Ana Imprisoned Democratic parliament members in order to exercise absolute power. He explained his actions in the quote below: I am the natural ruler of my country, the people know but the King, and my authority has never been questioned… F the French left Indo-China, we shall have independence, true, but for how long? I therefore collaborate in the military sense with the French for the defense of our liberty. This quote gives us insight to Prince Schnook’s political affiliations; he was tightly wound up in a mission to please the French.. Sara’s mission was to gain liberty for his country and institute programs to create a stable and eventually industrialized economy. Therefore, these two men’s opinions about the future of Cambodia greatly differed and eventually caused tensions.
The publics reactions to the prince’s absolutism soon changed Schnook’s mind and in February 1953, he traveled to France to beg the French President Aerial or independence. VIM Redid comments: “If Shannon was to… Safeguard the throne, it was necessary and perhaps urgent, that he should work openly for his country’s freedom” . Prince Shannon promised the Cambodia people independence from France in three years; it was the first significant role to the nationalist movement but, Sloth Sara and many others found this as an insignificant event; it was too little too late.
Sara shared in the desire to drive the French out of Cambodia, but he did not want Cambodia to be placed under neighboring Vietnam rule either , at the time this was a valid possible outcome. Sara wanted Cambodia to be liberated from its ruler and remain free. The year after Sara returned from Paris, Shannon was able to negotiate Cambodia liberty from France; Cambodia was now governed by a royal monarchy. Sloth Sara’s first political writing entitled “Monarchy or Democracy’ addressed his concerns of absolute monarchy.
Sara stated that “a monarchy [was] a doctrine which bestows power on a small group of men who do nothing to earn their living so that they can exploit the majority of the people at every level… [the] people must eliminate [a monarchical rule]” because it befriended imperialism while it anointed to be hostile to the people, and knowledge. Further, Sara commented that “only the National Assembly and democratic rights gave the Cambodia people a chance to breathe a little”. Due to Sara’s primary account above, it is accurate to conclude that at this time, Sara was not wrapped up in the intricate ideals of communism.
It appears that Sloth Sara first and foremost wanted to end the colonization and oppression of his country; secondly, he wanted to build a country that offered prosperity to the majority of the people, not Just the upper class. Eventually, after studying, reading, watching and experiencing, Sara concluded that he ideology of communism was best suited to complete his dreams for his country. After returning from France, Sloth Sara Joined the underground communist movement; politics commanded Sloth Sara’s life.
In secret, he prepared “himself and his colleagues for an eventual seizure of power” Very little is known about Sara’s early political life. Several months after returning from France, Sara Joined a Vietnamese- Khmer unit and later Joined the Indochina Communist Party. Here he learned about “party discipline, organization and theory, as well as the importance of concealment. ” Sara worked in secret supporting radical political candidates in hopes of one day running in a Cambodia election. Minion, Sara became a teacher of French, History, Geography and Civics at a college in Phonon Penn.
It is likely that a strengthened relations Detente Nils Dormer teacher, Nava Slogan, lead Sara Into a teaching career. This time frame was the last Sara lived in the open before he escaped to the jungle and formed the Khmer Rouge. As a teacher, Sloth Sara was “honest, humane, easy to befriend and respect”; a very different description than people would describe him as during his reign in Cambodia. Sloth Sara’s personality throughout his life is a mystery to many experts. From several different accounts, people described Sara’s nature as being even-tempered, calm, respectful, and honest.
When he talked his voice was smooth, hypnotic, and persuasive. After meeting Sloth Sara in the late sass, one man accounts that he remembers concluding that he could make a life- long friend with Sloth Sara. These descriptions of a gentle and trustworthy personality make it hard for one to imagine Sara as a murderous, oppressive ruler involved in genocide. Sloth Sara has left us with many mysteries about himself and is party; the first of many is his personality. It is often wondered whether Sloth Sara masked his true personality and faked being the honest and inspiring man many people identified him to be in order to conceal another agenda.
In 1963, when Sara fled to the Jungle, he abandoned his double life between teacher and revolutionary. Instead he became a full time revolutionary and had the time to further develop his plan for power. After Sara fled he became even more mysterious; he kept to himself and his varying personality caused frequent changes in his party’s direction. The pseudonym name, POI Pot, that Sloth Sara adopted when he came to power in Cambodia is another mystery. Other communist leaders of the twentieth century (I. E.
Stalin and Ho Chi Mini) took on revolutionary names while they were in the underground in order to hide “their true identities from the police” and in some cases to inspire their followers. Sloth Sara took the name POI Pot, a name with no inspirational meaning, only after gaining power in Cambodia concealing his former identity to the nation he governed as well as the rest of the world; POI Pot’s true identity was not officially known until 1979. By 1962, Sloth Sara had gained a substantial amount of power in the Cambodia Communist Party, enough to become the leader of the party.
By then, tensions had risen to a dangerous level between Prince Shannon and the communist party. Sloth Sara along with lend Sara and other members of the party were forced to escape into the Jungle. In the Jungle, Sara formed an army that was later known to the world as the Khmer Rouge. The army began a war against Schnook’s government which lost power in 1970 due to a military coup that was supported by the United States. Out of outrage, Shannon Joined his former enemy, Sloth Sara, and together they fought Cambodia new military government.
Due to the United States’ military involvement in the Vietnam War as well as Vietnam and Cambodia geographical closeness, the North Vietnamese set-up military fortresses in eastern Cambodia. In 1970 the United States attacked Cambodia in attempts to drive the North Vietnamese from Cambodia; this effort failed and only drove the North Vietnamese further into Cambodia and caused them to form ranks with the Khmer Rouge. From 1969-1973 the United States bombed North Vietnamese refugees in eastern Cambodia. The series of bombings killed up to 150,000 Cambodia farmers.
Out of fear, Cambodia farmers left their lands and escaped to the city of Phonon Penn, Cambodia capital. As a result, of the mass number of people entering the city and the large loss in the agricultural industry, Cambodia Tacit a weakened economy as well as a gallants amount AT corruption weaved Into the military led government. Consequently, POI Pot was able to draw popular support during this time. Minion the United States withdrew its military forces from Vietnam as well as military support from Cambodia; this left POI Pot with an opportunity to take power in Cambodia.
POI Pot and his regime were able to take control of Cambodia at the time they did for several different reasons; the United States had left Vietnam, as well as pulled their military support from Cambodia ; the current government was filled with corrupt political and military leaders which caused them to lose popularity among the Khmer people; and the Khmer Rouge were tough, regimented, and their vision of a new society was attractive and gained the support of many people. The Khmer Rouge appeared to be a breath of fresh air for the Khmer people.
They had a plan to solve many of the problems Cambodia had faced for centuries. The Cambodia Revolution, led by POI Pot, was meant to change the people’s role in their country and government. Revolutionaries and supports of the revolution wanted the “Khmer people to wake up” to face their individual and collective problems and Join together in order to work for the good of the single being and the country. The revolutionary army that was created was suppose to fight together and sever the people without foreign influences.
The revolutionaries rallied the people together to serve their nation; the restructured society was not to have any notion of personal status. Citizens of Phonon Penn anxiously awaited for the arrival of their new rulers. A personal account from Theory Seen comments on this: ” she watched her parents cheering on the Khmer Rouge as its soldiers marched into Boom Penn. ” On April 17, 1975, one hundred battalions of the Khmer Rouge seized Phonon Penn, the capital of Cambodia, and renamed the country Democratic Kampuchea. The soldiers who took the capitol were mainly young men.
POI Pot wasted no time at all enacting his plan; he began by announcing that “This is Year Zero”. From there, Capitalism, western culture, city life, and all foreign influences were to be extracted from society. Foreigners were removed from the country, embassies closed, media outlets disbanded, money was prohibited, and schools and clinics were closed. Also, freedom of movement, and leisure activities were greatly reduced; if one violated any of the new rules the punishments were severe; repeat offenders were either imprisoned or killed . Anyone who opposed the new government was killed.
Members of the previous military government, educators, public servants , Vietnamese, middle class members, and the educated were identified, imprisoned, tortured and eventually killed. Immediately after the seizure, the new regime ordered the evacuation of the cities. The citizens were given ten minutes to pack enough food rations for two days before they were forced to leave their homes and set off for the country side at gunpoint; reports suggest almost 20,000 died along the way. Genes parents who days earlier had welcomed the new regime now had a totally different perspective.
Her father had been killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers and her mother had been imprisoned and later died under the control of the new regime. The cities’ evacuation played into POI Pot’s economic stimulus plan that included creating an agrarian utopia which was inspired by Mao- Testing Great Leap Forward and was to be the new of the rest of the world. However, the Khmer people were forced into labor camps which are more famously Known as ten over work, starvation, torture, and disease, the majority of the early deaths were those of children or the elderly. In the Killing Fields, “life was hard”.
The Khmer Rouge forced its people into pointless, back breaking labor. Any free time one had was spent at political meetings trying to “avoid saying anything that could have one singled out for punishment or death” At this point, it is accurate to say that any economic stimulus plans were at a stand-still and Human Rights no longer existed; he Khmer people were treated worse than animals. The new regime’s leaders as well as their rationale stayed concealed from their citizens as well as the rest of the world. The news that filtered into the outside world was usually horrible.
Refugees spoke of the forced agrarian labor, starvation, random executions and the very secretive regime. Which leaves one to question what was POI Pot thinking at this time? This Khmer Rouge revolution was the purest form of the Marxist-Leninist movement. “No other regime tried to go so quickly or so far. No other inflicted as many casualties on he country’s population” The revolution can be viewed in some aspects as an attempt to break free from capitalism and attempt to rearrange the future into a social and economic utopia. The revolution failed to administrate a stable government in several areas.
First, the regime was too weak to trust its own members and spent much time and resources interrogating, torturing and killing anyone they determined as an enemy to the party including their own party members. POI Pot had such a thirst for power but a profound sense of distrust that he approved the torture and execution of over 20,000 people; most of the people that were killed were actually loyal to the Khmer Rouge and POI Pot. Secondly, the regime, like many before it, failed to fix the food shortage or revolutionize education and hygiene injustices faced by the poor- the people who the revolution was fought for.
Eventually, it became obvious that POI Pot had failed at his number one mission: to find a way for the people of Cambodia to prosper; instead POI Pot oppressed and alienated his people further Upon Vietnamese invasion in 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime was expelled. However, until 1991, the country remained in a state of struggle between different regimes. Finally, these different group leaders Joined together and signed a “UN-sponsored peace accord” This agreement inspired democratic opportunities to the Khmer people such as civil, human and political rights.
In the early sass’s Cambodia was the world’s “nation building project” ; attempting to get Cambodia back on it’s feet from the wrath and destruction POI Pot caused. In 1993 the UN held democratic elections in the country; at last giving the Khmer people the first real chance to prosper as an independent nation. However, this opportunity was lost due to yet another corrupt government in power. After 1979, POI Pot and other loyal followers were reduced to fighting a guerilla war against the Vietnamese until 1997 when POI Pot was caught by the government and put on house arrest.
POI Pot died in April 1998 never having to take responsibility for the 2,000,000 people he murdered, the countless lives he ruined, and the country he permanently scarred. Sloth Sara witnessed in his young life the injustices done to his people through imperialism and monarchical rule. Upon Journeying to France and Joining the Khmer-language section of the French Communist Party, Sara gained insight on possible waves of the future. In his mind, Cambodia could only prosper as an independent nation without an solute monarchy.
Returning none Trot France, saloon Sara worker along ten sloe AT other political radicals to oust French and monarchical power. Sara escaped into the jungle along with other members of the Cambodia Communist Party due to Shannon backed advocates labeling the members as Reds. POI Pot and the Khmer Rouge were able to gain power in Cambodia in 1975 due to several factors including: an alliance with Prince Shannon that gained popular support for the party; popular support for he Khmer Rouge was also gained due to a corrupt military controlled government already in power.
POI Pot was obsessed the idea of an agrarian utopia and once in power he instituted projects that wiped out democratic, capitalist and industrialized influences from the country. Instead of promoting Human Rights POI Pot stripped his people from having any humane resemblances by making them all wear gray jumpsuits, and filling their time with monotonous, meaningless Jobs that were tiring. POI Pot and his regime executed anyone they regarded as an enemy of the state and any more died at the hands of disease, starvation, over-work, and unsanitary conditions.