Pol Pot

"Pol Pot"

Saloth Sar

 

Pol Pot

Saloth Sar (1925-1998) is better known by the alias "Pol Pot" or "Brother Number One". Pol Pot served as Prime Minister under the Democratic Kampuchea from 1976-1979. In his earlier life, he earned a scholarship to study in Paris in 1949. The following year as the French Communists (PCF) grew strong, he became drawn toward Marxist learnings. The French Communists advocated anti-colonialism which attracted Pol Pot. In 1953 he returned to Cambodia with the task of evaluating various rebel factions within Cambodia. Sar reccomended the Viet Minh group.

By 1963, he had been elected the acting leader of the Communist party within Cambodia. In March of the same year anti-Communist pressure from the monarch drove Sar into hiding where he made contact with North Vietnamese units fighting against South Vietnam. As time passed and the monarchy declined in popularity, support for the subversive movement grew. In 1968, Pol Pot launched a full-scale uprising against the monarchy. Support from Vietnamese and Chinese forces aided the guerilla soldiers.

Eventually, the Khmer Rouge forces grew stronger and by 1973 they were able to fight most of their battles without foreign aid. In 1975 the Khmer Rouge took over the capital city of Phnom Penh. Pol Pot and his forces declared the "Year Zero" and launched a massive campaign to 'purify' Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge party based their campaign on a brutal agrarian lifestyle. During the 3 years and 8 months that the Khmer Rouge held power, about one-quarter of Cambodia's population died. In other words, approximately 1,750,000 died during the Khmer Rouge reign.

In 1979 after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, Pol Pot fled to the western regions of Cambodia. He remained the leader of the Khmer Rouge forces during this time. It is estimated that approximately 3,000-6,000 people remained loyal to him and the Khmer Rouge during this time. On October 23, 1991 the four main factions within Cambodia signed a peace treaty and a temporary coalition government was established under Sihanouk. The first multiparty elections since 1972 were held in 1993 but the Khmer Rouge boycotted these elections. Further tension arose when Ieng Sary was the first Khmer Rouge official to defect in 1996. Sary accused Pol Pot of being the sole leader behind the genocidal policies. The following year Pol Pot became increasingly paranoid, plagued by the defection of Sary. He accused trusted friend and ally, Son Sen, of collaborating with the Cambodian government. Upon Pol Pot's orders, Sen and his wife and children were all executed. That same year Pol Pot was arrested by former Brother Number 5, Ta Mok. On July 25th, Pol Pot was charged with a life sentance for Sen's murder. This trial has since been referred to as a show trial, or a trial put on to convey that the Khmer Rouge was denouncing its' leader. This is speculated because the trial was put on despite the presence of journalist, Nate Thayer, which defied the typical clandestine manner of the Khmer Rouge party. After the trial, Pol Pot agreed to allow Thayer, a journalist for the "Far Eastern Economic Review", to interview him. This would be his first contact with the Western media since the early 1980s. Below is a link to video directly from this interview and the "show trial". Pol Pot was never brought to justice for his war crimes against humanity. He died from heart failure on April 15th, 1998.

Pol Pot Interview With Nate Thayer Part 1

Pol Pot Interview With Nate Thayer Part 2

 

 

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