A History of the Khmer Rouge

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A History of the Khmer Rouge

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The Khmer Rouge, also known as the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), was a group led by Pol Pot that dictated Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 (Time). This massacre has roots back to the 1940s, when France had its own colonized countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam. In 1954, Vietnam defeated France at war and won its independence. The new country of Vietnam was divided into two sections: “communist North Vietnam and pro-Western South Vietnam (backed by the US)” (Peace). Soon Vietnam was a battlefield. Viet Cong, a group of communist guerrillas, was supported by North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union. America joined the Vietnam War in 1964, bringing bombs, airpower, and poison defoliants. For years the country fought, but the war did not come to any victory against the strong-willed and committed Vietnamese communists. By the time it was over, the Vietnam War had devastated the country, costing many American and Vietnamese lives, and achieved nothing but misery for those caught up in it -including the Cambodians.
Vietnam was not the only country fighting for its independence. In 1953, after Cambodia won its independence from France, Prince Norodom Sihanouk became the head of state and ruler of Cambodia. The CPK was formed in 1960 from growing opposition to Sihanouk. In response, Sihanouk named the group the Khmer Rouge, to show that he was not serious about them. The word Khmer Rouge comes from the French word for red added to the language of the people (Timeline). Based in secluded forest and mountain areas in the north-east parts of the country, the group hardly gained members. Ten years later, Marshal Lon Nol, “a Cambodian politician who had previously served as prime mi...

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