by Andrea Scheffler and Alex Maser! :D


The Khmer Rouge was the result of growing communism in Cambodia after the French tried to force colonization upon Cambodians in the 1940's. It was an organization whose members were all supporters of Communism and wanted Cambodia to be a communist nation. The Khmer Rouge did not make much progress until Prince NorodomSihanouk was kicked out of power and replaced by Lon Nol in 1970 ("Cambodia's Brutal Khmer Rouge", Twist 25). Prince Sihanouk joined the Khmer Rouge and the regime received more support ("Cambodia's Brutal Khmer Rouge"). In the spring of 1975, Phnom Penh was overtaken by them (Dickson 215). This was a turning point that gave the Khmer Rouge dangerous power (Scheffer). Immediately, Pol Pot, the main leader of the Khmer Rouge, began evacuating people form Phnom Penh onto rural farms. During these evacuations, many people died. Those that were very smart, including people with special skills and those that could speak another language, were immediately killed ("Khmer Rouge Page"). Some people were even put to death for wearing glasses ("Cambodia's Brutal Khmer Rouge"). Pol Pot wanted a population of dumb, hardworking and dispensable people.

Private property was abolished, religion forbidden, and Pol Pot put the Cambodian population to work on fields ("Cambodia's Brutal Khmer Rouge"). The workers worked 12-15 hours a day ("YouTube - Cambodian Genocide") in the hot sun, and were fed little. Imagine slavery in the United States combined with the Nazi Holocaust in Germany. No matter how hard the people worked, they were never fed enough or treated well. Our Sok Hon, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, said that "in my understanding, it seems like the Khmer rouge wanted to kill all Cambodians and replace us with a new people, a new nationality, but I'm not sure what nationality. If they wanted to help Cambodian people, why didn't they give us enough food and enough rice to eat? We produced a lot of rice and I saw piles of rice after harvest. I think that all the rice was exported to China, or to other countries, but they did not allow us to eat enough" ("Take a Walk...Cambodia").

From 1975 to early 1979, almost two million Cambodians were killed, which was about a quarter of the country's population ("Time of Transition" 22).

The Khmer Rouge ruled so recently that the scars are still visible in Cambodia. The population is very young - 50% of the population is under the age of 15 ("Youtube - Cambodian Genocide"). The economy is rather awful. This is partially thanks to the Khmer Rouge's execution of the upper and educated classes. New human remains turn up around the exhumed mass graves of the Killing Fields of Cheoung Ek on a daily basis ("Youtube - Cambodian Genocide"). Silent reminders of the death of millions, the bones and teeth found are placed into makeshift shrines in tree hollows and cement planters ("Youtube - Cambodian Genocide").

Perhaps one of the worst facts about the Khmer Rouge, a fact that stirs up many emotions, is that to this day, none of the members of the Khmer Rouge have gotten what they deserved. The leader, Pol Pot, died of natural causes at his house ("Khmer Rouge Page"). The trials of Khmer Rouge members have just recently, and very slowly, started. Duch, or Kaing Guek Eav, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and received a prison sentence in 2010 ("Khmer Rouge"). Duch is the infamous commander of the Tuol Sleng torture center (S-21).
The following tortures have been documented in the archive of the S-21 prison (one of the most famous torture chambers/prisons in the Khmer Rouge reign).
Beating: by hand, with a heavy stick/branches/bunches of electric wire
Burning with cigarette
Electric shock
Feeding "2 or 3 spoonfuls of 'excrement'"
Made to drink urine
Forced feeding
Hanging upside down
Holding up arms for an entire day
Being jammed with a needle
Paying homage to image(s) of dog(s)
Paying homage to the wall
Paying homage to the table
Paying homage to the chair
Having fingernails pulled out
Suffocation with plastic bag
Water tortures
Drops of water onto forehead [meant to drive someone crazy]

Source Annotation

"Cambodian Genocide Program." Yale University. Web. 10 May 2011.
Summary: This website goes into a good detail about the history of Cambodia before the Khmer Rouge invasion. It has some good links on the side bar, such as "books and publications", "maps and satellite images", "databases" and more. However, there isn't much information just on the homepage.
Assess: This website is probably good for finding links and books for in-depth research, but doesn't really have much general information. I would definitely trust this website, however, because it is run by Yale which is a very prestigious college. The website also says that their Genocide Program is "award-winning", so that makes it even more trustworthy.
Reflect: I would use this website to find good links on the Khmer Rouge. It has great links, for everything. It is like an information hub. The homepage isn't very helpful itself, but the website overall has a large amount of helpful information.

"Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime". BBC News. Sept. 19 2007. Web. 23 May 2011.
Summary: This article is an overview of the Khmer Rouge, from the 1960's up to 2007, when the article was published. There are also links to different articles involving the Khmer Rouge from BBC and links to other websites.
Assess: This article is clear and provides a well written summary of the Khmer Rouge.
Reflect: More information, like pictures, would be useful, but it works well as a simple summary.

Dickson, Paul. From Elvis to E-Mail. Federal Street Press. Springfield, MA. 1999. Print.
Summary: This book provides two short entries about incidents involving the Khmer Rouge.
Assess: This book would be useful if you wanted information about what happened with the Khmer Rouge on April 12 and May 14 of 1975. There was little background information about the Khmer Rouge to explain the significance of the events and how the events of those two days fit into the Khmer Rouge's rule in Cambodia.
Reflect: More information about the Khmer Rouge's rule in Cambodia, how they came to be in control of Cambodia, and how they lost their power would be nice.

'"Khmer Rouge Page". Cambodian Information Center. Aug. 15 1995. Web. May 10, 2011.
Summary: This site goes into brief detail about the background of the Khmer Rouge, but is mainly about the men involved and their trials after the fact. It also has a Youtube video embedded, various photos, a timeline, and even some lyrics to a song. It's different from the first source because it provides more information about the men themselves, and goes into deep detail about them.
Assess: This looks like it will be a helpful resource, as it goes into lots of detail. It also has been around for a while, and I am assuming that this means many different people have edited it since then to keep it accurate. It also looks like an un-biased website, as there are no comments or articles written, it's simply the facts. Overall it looks like a really useful and reliable source!
Reflect: The information on this website would be useful to give you an overall picture of the Khmer Rouge. It will also be a good way to see what Cambodian life and culture was like during this time. Even better, it gives you a look at what happened to the men s=associated with Khmer Rouge after the fact.

"Khmer Rouge". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 2011. Web. 11 May 2011.
Summary: This page is an article about the Khmer Rouge from its beginnings to trials of some of its members in the twenty-first century.
Assess: This information is good if you want a look at the Khmer Rouge's overall history. This is not the page for finding details about the Khmer Rouge while it was in power.
Reflect: This article does not have much information about 1975 to 1979, which is important because that was when the Khmer Rouge was in power.

‍Levy, David. The Debate Over Vietnam. The John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore. 1995. Print.
Summary: This book was about the Vietnam war. It talks about Cambodia and the bombing of Cambodia by the United States. This information is very important in understanding Cambodia's background before the overtake by the Khmer Rouge.
Assess: This book seems to be quite high quality. It addresses many topics and goes into great detail. It has a viewpoint from the 1990's (it was originally published in 1991, but republished in 1995). The information may be a little bit dated.
Reflect: The book is titled "The Debate Over Vietnam", and is written about the Vietnam war, not about Cambodia. However, it goes into some helpful detail about the state of Cambodia before they were taken over by the Khmer Rouge. A background on Cambodia is important in understanding the Khmer Rouge rule, so the information is helpful to know.

Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and Genocide in Cambodia | Travel Story by"V A G A B O N D I N G One Man, One Year, One World. Web. 10 May 2011.
Summary: This website seems to have a lot of facts about the Khmer Rouge. It talks in detail about the atrocities that the Khmer Rouge committed, and how they treated the people they were ruling over. There is a comment section at the bottom, but I ignored that as it is not a very valid source.
Assess: This website is well put together. It has many multi-media sources, like pictures and videos embedded. The pictures have nice captions saying what the pictures are showing. However, a little of the content seemed slightly biased (in an understandable way, they were talking about how the Khmer Rouge were violent and obsessive, and things like that. However, there shouldn't be any opinion on the topic shown-in my opinion). There isn't a large amount of text, or information (probably less than 500 words on the page).
Reflect: The facts on this website could be really useful in saying what the Khmer Rouge did. The website doesn't really explain who the Khmer Rouge were, but it explains what they did and gives helpful data instead of generalizations.

Scheffer, David. "Historical Overview of the Khmer Rouge". Cambodia Tribunal. Web. May 10, 2011.
Summary: This site is a historical overview of the Khmer Rouge. At the top there is a "Navigation" section, which will take you to the section you want to read about. For example, they have a section labeled "The Rise of The Khmer Rouge". The whole page is filled with lots of facts and dates, and will be really helpful in getting you to understand what the Khmer Rouge was all about.
Assess: This web page seems to be pretty legit! There are editors listed at the top, and there is a little section on the side that tells you the last time the page has been updated, and by who. There are a lot of sponsors at the bottom, and the page is easy to navigate through. Also, the fact that it has a lot of dates and facts in the writing shows that these authors know what they're talking about.
Reflect: You can use this page to learn about pretty much every aspect of the Khmer Rouge. It gives you details about the rise of it, what Cambodia was like under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and also has a section about Cambodia today. This will be useful in gathering facts and dates, and getting information that has been looked over and revised by knowledgeable people.

Time of Transition: The 70s. Time Life Inc. Richmond, VA. 1998. Print.
Summary: Although there was only one paragraph and a couple pictures in this book, it provided some useful info! It talks about indirect American involvement in Khmer Rouge. It also mentions the reaction of college students to America invading Cambodia.
Assess: This book is a reliable source and easy to read. It's all about events that happened in the 70's, and even though not much is said about Khmer Rouge, it talks about how America was involved in Cambodia before Khmer Rouge. It gives you information that you might not have known before, because American involvement wasn't mentioned in any of the sites I went on.
Reflect: You can use the info. from this book to see how America was involved in Cambodia, and the reaction that some people in America had to it.

Twist, Clint. Take Ten Years: 1970s. Steck-Vaugh Company. Melrose Park, IL. 1994. Print.
Summary: There is only one small section about the Khmer Rouge in this book, but it did have some interesting facts that I did not see when I was looking at other sources.
Assess: Though there is only a little bit of information about the Khmer Rouge in this book, what is there is useful.
Reflect: This book is useful if you want information about the Khmer Rouge's rise to power. There is not any information about the Khmer Rouge during or after their rule in Cambodia.

"What Happened During the Khmer Rouge". LoveToKnow, Corp. 1996. Web. May 11, 2011.
Summary: This article, "What Happened During the Khmer Rouge?", provides a step-by-step of what happened during this time. For example, there is a paragraph about forced evacuation. The next is about forced labor, and so on. It really breaks down the Khmer Rouge into steps, and is easy to understand. It's almost like a timeline of the Khmer Rouge. It tells you the basics, and the most important things.
Assess: Although this article does not have very many facts listed, such as dates and numbers, it's a good source for the overall timeline of the Khmer Rouge. The page is full of links, and on the side it has links to other questions people have asked about the Khmer Rouge, like "Why Was The Khmer Rouge Formed" and Facts About The Khmer Rouge" (which would be especially useful). It doesn't go into as much detail as the previous sources, but it breaks down the Khmer Rouge into easy to understand paragraphs, which is nice.
Reflect: This site could be used to give you general information and understanding about the Khmer Rouge, and it provides you with links to other sites about the same topic. On this certain page you may only learn a general summary of the Khmer Rouge, but you can find many useful links that will give you more detailed information (there are at least 20 links on the page).

Reflections and Conclusions

The Khmer Rouge seem to be just as horrendous as the Nazi's were during the Holocaust... So why don't we talk about them as much? America wasn't as involved with the Khmer Rouge as we were the Holocaust, so that may be a reason. However, almost two million people died, a quarter of the country wiped out! Another reason may be that this case of genocide was contained in Cambodia. During the Holocaust, Hitler and his Nazi troops were invading other countries and taking lives. Sadly, this may be another reason we don't hear about Cambodia, because no other nations were majorly involved. Another possibility is that America just wasn't ready to worry about another countries issues again. The Vietnam War had just ended, and America was probably not ready to get involved again.

The Khmer Rouge is a horrible event that I believe could have been stopped if world powers gathered together to bring the group down. The problem with that is no other powerful countries wanted involvement. The fact that the members of the Khmer Rouge, even Pol Pot, got away scot-free with this for so long is what I find to be the most disturbing fact of the whole matter. Clearly, justice has not been served.

The Khmer Rouge should have been, and still should be, held accountable for their actions. When the Khmer Rouge lost control of Cambodia as a whole, they still retained control of regions of Cambodia until 1998 ("Khmer Rouge"). Although the genocide that the Khmer Rouge was responsible for occurred in the mid to late 1970s, it wasn't until decades later that trials for these crimes began. The absence of punishment for the Khmer Rouge members and leaders allowed many of them to become part of the new Cambodian government. At the rate Khmer Rouge leaders are being prosecuted now, many of them will be dead before they receive any type of punishment for what they did. The oddly slow and ineffective response to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge should never have happened. No one should have to live next to the man who was responsible for the death of their family and friends, and watch as they aren't punished.

But what about today? Even if America wasn't ready to think about Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge rule, why didn't we at least take the time to learn about it in schools in the 21st century? It could be that we feel some shame for not trying to stop this horrible massacre. However, we shouldn't be the only ones that feel shame, the whole world should. While millions of people were being killed, many countries simply turned a blind eye and did nothing. We should all feel some shame. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers have changed our foreign policy forever, and will forever be learned about and remembered in our country, but this massacre of millions of innocent people gets hardly a word spoken about it.


Below is a picture slideshow of the horrible events of Khmer Rouge. It's a little slow moving, but the pictures are definitely strong and impactful!

To see a photo timeline of Khmer Rouge, click here!

Click HERE to see a picture from the S-21 Torture Center - the main and most famous jail/center for torture the Khmer Rouge had. WARNING, MAY FIND DISTURBING.

Documenting Torture in Pol Pot's Prison is a collection of written eye-witness reports about the torture in Cambodia.

Prisoner Records from the S-21 prison --- WARNING, MAY FIND DISTURBING.

external image skulls-prv.jpg
This is a picture of some of the remains the Khmer Rouge left for Cambodia to deal with.

This video explains the S-21 Prison -- the main torture center of the Khmer Rouge. At any one point, this prison held close to 1,500 prisoners. By the end of Khmer Rouge power, over 12,000 men women and children entered S-21. Only 7 came out alive.

This video gives information about the Khmer Rouge from before the Cambodian civil war until the death of Pol Pot.

This clip covers the basics of the Khmer Rouge takeover and rule.

Cambodia: Pol Pot's Shadow is an interesting video about the lack of punishment for Khmer Rouge officials from PBS.

Works Cited

"Cambodian Genocide Program." Yale University. Web. 10 May 2011.

__"Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime"__. BBC News. Sept. 19 2007. Web. 23 May 2011.

"Documenting Torture in Pol Pot's Secret Prison." Department of History Home Page. Web. 11 May 2011.

'"Khmer Rouge Page". Cambodian Information Center, Aug. 15 1995. Web. May 10, 2011.

Levy, David. The Debate Over Vietnam. The John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore. 1995. Print.

Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and Genocide in Cambodia | Travel Story by"V A G A B O N D I N G One Man, One Year, One World. Web. 10 May 2011.

Scheffer, David. "Historical Overview of the Khmer Rouge". Cambodia Tribunal. Web. May 10, 2011.

"Take a Walk... Cambodia." Education 2003 - Cambodia Connection. Web. 12 May 2011.

"What Happened During the Khmer Rouge". LoveToKnow, Corp. 1996. Web. May 11, 2011.

Time of Transition: The 70s. Time Life Inc. Richmond, VA. 1998. Print.

Twist, Clint. Take Ten Years: 1970s. Steck-Vaugh Company. Melrose Park, IL. 1994. Print.

"YouTube - Cambodian Genocide - Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 12 May 2011.