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Essay: The Terrible Truth: A Look into the Cambodian Genocide

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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  • Tags: Genocide essays

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The Death Paddies

In the past century alone there have been seven recorded and accepted genocides, and the total deaths from these genocides is about 16,800,000 people (Gavin). Besides the past century, there have been countless other genocides that have not been recorded. Eventually, following the slaughter of 6 million Jews in WWII, a man by the name of Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide. Despite the attempts since WWII to put an end to genocide, countless genocides have occurred, but the perpetrators who commit these horrific crimes are now almost always put on trial for there crimes against the human race. There is one thing that maintains for all genocides, hate. Thesis: From the period 1975-1979 in Cambodia, over 2 million humans died in Cambodia at the hands of  the Khmer Rouge regime, for being educated, having  different political views,  religious beliefs, or for being wealthy, motivated by communist utopia and militaristic regime.

Following WWII a man by the name of Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide to create a word to describe the mass killings that had taken place during the holocaust. Raphael Lemkin’s cause dates back before the holocaust. He saw the slaughter of the Armenians in Turkey, which is likely to have started his fight. When WWII came he published a book depicting the crimes of the Nazis in WWII, using the term genocide. During the holocaust, Raphael’s entire family was killed leaving him devastated. After the war he was part of the Nuremberg trials where he used the word genocide to describe the atrocities. But, genocide was not a crime in the world yet. Soon, the United Nations meet to discuss the idea resulting in the convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide, fulfilling Raphael cause (“Coining a Word and Championing a Cause”). Genocide became defined as the destruction of a group of people, and is the worst crime against humanity to commit. As stated by Alain Destexhe in BBC news, “Genocide is distinguishable from all other crimes by the motivation behind it … Genocide is a crime on a different scale to all other crimes against humanity” (“How Do You Define Genocide”). In order for an event to be considered a genocide it must be the deliberate killing of a group, have mental or physical harm done to a group, or putting a group through impossible conditions. Other events the are considered genocide are preventing birth from a group, or changing the children from a group to another through force (“How Do You Define Genocide”). These factors made the killings in Cambodia a genocide as the government killed their target groups.

The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia killed targeted groups to create a communist regime. From 1975-1979 the regime killed certain target groups such as doctors, teachers, and anybody who was educated. Other targets such as Monks, and the wealthy were targeted and slaughtered. In other words, Pol Pot killed all that he saw as an opposer to the government (“The Cambodian Genocide”). The Khmer Rouge massacred the targets to try to create what they wanted, a communist utopia. Cambodia was secluded from the world, and all the population was turned into farmers for rice, with low class abilities. The Khmer Rouge had complete control of the populus (“Cambodia”). The rain of terror allowed no family, and all education was removed, to create a military regime (“The Cambodian Genocide”). The oppressor of the genocide, the Khmer Rouge, was headed by Pol Pot. Pol Pot had been born in 1925, and joined the Communist Party later following the country leaving french rule. Pol Pot formed a military for the Khmer Rouge, and took the country, following the civil war. Throughout the rule of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot lead the country secretly, even renaming Cambodia to Democratic Kampuchea. He became the Prime Minister in 1976, and massacred all that opposed him. Although Vietnam invaded in 1978 and pushed Pol Pot into the jungle along with his government (“Pol Pot”). The horrific events of the genocide were caused by Pol Pot and his crazy regime.

The main events of the genocide were carried out by Pol Pot’s regime. Following a revolution against French rule, the country of Cambodia became a free country. Despite, freedom at last the country was soon at civil war. The Khmer Rouge quickly took the country by speed and the democratic government collapsed, and a violent government took over, ending the civil war (“Pol Pot”). The civil war brought 500,000 deaths, but more death was to come (“The Cambodian Genocide”) To continue, the worst for Cambodia was to come next as there new government carried out the genocide.

Following the taking of the capital of Cambodia the Khmer Rouge ordered all citizens in the city to go to the countryside. Millions were put in work camps forced to farm for rice, where they were starved. Whole cities were turned into farmers that could never rest. The Khmer Rouge slaughtered anybody who slowed down, which was usually the young and the old as they could not keep up with the harsh conditions. All religion was banned, the buildings of worship were turned into harsh prisons, along with schools. The dictatorship took advantage of the youth, commonly turning them into soldiers as they would be terrified. As stated by the united to end genocide foundation, “Child soldiers were a huge tool of the Khmer Rouge as they were easy to control and would follow orders without hesitation” (“The Cambodian Genocide”).The atrocities in the genocide were seen the worst by children, as they were the victims of the Khmer Rouge. Children would be executed as it would be impossible to accomplish tasks given. No child could work for twenty four hours straight, or be forced to kill family members for being weak. Nevertheless the terrible regime was destroyed putting an end to the genocide.

The Cambodian Genocide ended in 1979 as a result of an invasion by Vietnam. The country of cambodia had been at a border war with vietnam due to the Khmer Rouge wanting land from vietnam that they had lost. In this manner a war between Cambodia and Vietnam started, resulting in an invasion by Cambodia in 1978, pushing the Khmer Rouge into the far west of the country along the border of Thailand, were they used guerilla warfare against Vietnam, who had taken the country quickly. The USA gave support to the Khmer Rouge, on the other hand the countries of China and the Soviet Union gave support to Vietnam. These countries gave support, due to the fact of the Cold War and Vietnam War. Eventually the Rebellion from the Khmer Rouge slowly collapsed, and soon Cambodia got back its independence and installed a Monarch, arresting all members of the Khmer Rouge. Although, for many the genocide is still lasting as there have been 40,000 amputees or deaths from landmines. (“The Cambodian Genocide”). The Holocaust and the Cambodian Genocide have similarities and differences.

The Cambodian Genocide, along with the holocaust compare and contrast. Similarly to the holocaust, in Cambodia there were certain target groups. In Cambodia, millions were placed in Work Camps (“The Cambodian Genocide”). Similarly to the holocaust were people were brought to concentration camps where they were, along with Cambodia, worked to death (“The Holocaust”) Both the Holocaust and the Genocide Of Cambodia saw the change in a government followed by extremist ideas resulting in bloodshed on its own people. Furthermore, in both genocide the young, elderly, and weak were slaughtered as they could not keep up with the conditions, along with anybody who gave up or refused. In contrast

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