Cambodian Genocide

Published: 2021-07-20 08:15:07
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Category: Genocide

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Cambodia, a southeastern Asian country, has endured many feats in history and has often been conquered but never has it seen such a devastation as heinous as in the year 1970. With a population of roughly 7 million people at the time, almost all Cambodians prior to genocide practiced Buddhism. The country was reigned by France for nearly 100 years and finally gained independence in 1953. Cambodia then became a constitutional monarchy when Prince Sihanouk took place as king.
After much struggling to keep his land independent from other countries, Sihanouk was deposed in a military coup involving Prime Minister General Lon Nol. This caused the Vietnamese communists that lived partially in Cambodia to form a rebellious group called the Khmer Rouge. Invasions seemed never ending for the country, as Sihanouk was unable to regain his power as king. Tension between Lon Nol’s government and Khmer Rouge had risen to an all time high until Khmer Rouge gained complete power of the country in 1975 and the official name was even changed to Democratic Kampucha.
What we know today as called Cambodia became a hostile and very dangerous place to live, as it was basically war grounds for the Vietnamese war. Overthrown by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, Cambodians were forced to follow an organized extremist program to simulate Maoist communism. All laws and rights previously cherished by the country were aborted and Pol Pot’s plan was to annihilate traditional Cambodian society. People whose families had lived in Cambodia for countless generations were suddenly forced on extremely short notice to flee their homes.
The Khmer Rouge ruthlessly murdered any person on the spot if they refused to leave their homes or even took too long to leave. Those who didn’t obey orders were shot. Babies, sick children, the elderly and disabled people were also shot for not being able to leave soon enough. All establishments were shut down. Factories, hospitals, schools, temples and universities no longer existed, nor did religion, music or personal relationships.
All people who had earned professional titles, such as doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers and countless others were sought out by Khmer Rouge and murdered alongside their extended families. People who were kept in the country were forced to work in labor camps and were barely kept alive. Countless fell ill and later died from poor living conditions because they were not treated or cared for. All minorities including Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai were murdered. Half of the Muslim population was wiped out, along with roughly 8,000 Christians.
Throughout the 1980’s efforts were made by outside countries to demolish the Khmer Rouge and resurrect Cambodian society. Finally in 1991 Cambodia accomplished a peace treaty to enforce ceasefire and eventually Sihanouk was reclaimed the King, two years later. Reconstruction was not easy since all of the people who were trained in engineering, law, medicine and leaders were killed. Also the economy was destroyed due to Pol Pot and his outlook on foreign aid. A peace keeping force was created to deal with any issues involving refugees.
Today Cambodia is once again a constitutional monarchy and is controlled by a senate and numerous other politicians. An advanced and organized government clearly exists and lands that were once places of terror have now been made into memorials dedicated to the many Cambodians who were murdered. Although the psychological scars that were caused by traumatic genocide will never cease, a greater sense of nationalism has been created and the population that is made up of mostly people who haven’t experienced the genocide has accomplished a great recovery.
I feel that the steps that were taken by those who helped liberate Cambodia were successful in redeeming their society, considering how disturbing the genocide was. The genocide laws that were enforced in this case seem mostly for political reasons, but there were exceptions of laws that simply were not reasonable. Laws that restricted people from participating in school, practicing their specific trade and going to their place of religion or even praying, can be categorized as politically driven since the Khmer Rouge was determined to make Cambodia identical to Maoist China.
The reasoning behind laws such as the prohibition of personal relationships, wearing eye glasses, music, radio sets, knowing a foreign language, laughing, crying and expressions of affection are not political, but rather selfish and obviously intolerant. Since this specific genocide is linked to the Vietnamese War that involved mass death in other countries as well, it is imaginable that the near regions that experienced genocide as well were quite similar. An account that is comparable to the Cambodian genocide is the genocide that occurred in Rwanda.
Besides the fact that Rwanda also has a beautiful subtropical climate, both countries suffered horrible due to the misdoing of their own people. Both countries endured a crippling massacre that will forever remain in their history and be revisited by the countless people who lost their families. Also, the economies of the countries were both severely damaged, leaving today’s population with a disadvantage as the economy and education systems advance at a very slow pace. I have never encountered any type of massacre or terrible tragedy, especially at this scale, but can sympathize for the people who did or did not survive this horror.
Since I haven’t encountered anything like this I don’t have anything personal to share concerning genocide. Although by being an American in the 21st century, the terrorist attacks known as 9/11 is a relatable tragedy. Thousands of people were injured or killed that day because of the view the terrorists had towards America. The amount of people who were killed was not entirely catastrophic to our society as in the case of Cambodia and I am not sure if it can necessarily be considered genocide but the intentions of the terrorists are similar in a way to those of Khmer Rogue.
Khmer Rogue was intolerant and controlling when they were not justified in doing so, especially considering the amount of innocent people who were murdered. Pol Pot knew how we wanted to run his version of Cambodia and did not care that Khmer Rogue was destructive towards Cambodian society. I believe that when the Al-Qaeda terrorists crashed into the twin towers their intentions were to cripple our society and make the statement that they do not agree with the way we run our country.
Regardless of how many people are killed in attempt to harm a country’s society, those who murder due to intolerance do not deserve to exist. Over half of the population of Cambodia was murdered throughout the few years that the Khmer Rogue was in power, therefor harming their future potential in the world. I think that the chances of war ever coming to an end for human beings all over the world are extremely slim, but if war for the sake of intolerant control over people continues to occur war will never end. Genocide spreads hatred that cannot be destroyed.

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