My name is Pol Pot, but I wasn’t always born with this name. I was born as Saloth Sar, I was the notorious leader of the Khmer Rouge (also known as the Red Cambodians). I was responsible for the deaths of over 25% of Cambodia’s population between 1975-1979. In just four years I killed over 3 million innocent people thanks to starvation or more often than not, torture or simply outright murder. I was born on the 19th May 1925 in Prek Sbauv, the Kampong Thum Province, north of Phnom Penh. I was the eighth of nine children and the second of three sons.
My father was a prosperous farmer and my family had many connections to the Cambodian Royal family. However, I was a poor student, I was educated by Buddhist Monks at a private Catholic Institution in Phnom Penh and then at a technical school, (where I studied mechanical and scientific subjects) in the small town of Kompong Cham to learn carpentry. I later obtained a government scholarship to study radio and electrical technology in Paris. Yet, in France I began to spend less time studying and more time becoming involved with Communist Parties.
After returning to Cambodia in 1953 I joined the underground communist party “United Khmer Issark (Freedom) Front” which was one of the many Cambodian groups that opposed to French Control of Cambodia, as well as the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. After Cambodia won its independence from the French in 1954, I became involved with the Khmer People Revolutionary Party (KPRP for short) the first Cambodian communist party. I have an extreme hatred for intellectuals, you know those people that think study and understand things.
I was influenced by Tou Samouth, a former Front president who was interested in making the KPRP an openly Cambodian organisation. In September 1960, I and a handful of followers, met secretly at the Phnom Penh railway station to establish the “Workers Party of Kampuchea” (WPK). Samouth (the person who influenced me the most) was named secretary general, but by 1963 I had replaced Samouth as party secretary and unfortunately he later disappeared due to mysterious circumstance. For the next thirteen years me and other WPK members started to fade from public view, this was so we could set up our own party organisation in remote forest areas.
During this time I worked hard to strengthen my leadership abilities, so I travelled to Beijing, China to receive organisational training. Upon my return to Cambodia in 1966, the WPK (Workers Party of Kampuchea) had changed its name to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). The CPK led many demonstrations against the Sihanouk administration, which caused Prince Sihanouk (my former enemy) to order the execution of dozens of our CPK members, which he referred to as what is now known as the Khmer Rouge.
In December 1969 and January 1970 myself and other CPK leaders were prepared to take down Sihanouk, but the military beat us to it, overthrowing Sihanouk in March 1970 and bringing Lon Nol to Cambodian Presidency instead. However, this wasn’t to last, once I came into power on the 17th April 1975 I began a radical experiment to create the “perfect society”, which was inspired by China’s “Cultural Revolution”. After this I renamed Cambodia to the Democratic of Kampuchea (DK for short), all forms of capitalism, western culture and city life was soon to disappear in favour of extreme communism.
I closed all embassies and all foreigners were expelled, newspapers and television stations were shut down, money was forbidden and I banned all religion, Kampuchea was in all respects sealed off from the outside world. I declared: “This is Year Zero”. Millions of “City Dwellers” were thrust into slave labour in the now infamous “Killing Fields”, where my people soon began dying from overwork, malnutrition and disease living on just one tin of rice per person, every two days. Work began at 4 a. m. and wouldn’t finish until 10 p. . All this was under the work of trigger happy, ruthless Khmer Rouge guards eager to shoot anyone for the slightest infraction. My message to the people was harsh: “Whether you live or die it is not of great significance”. Throughout the country reminders of the “old society” where ruthlessly destroyed. There was no place now for the educated, the wealthy, Buddhist monks, police, lawyers, teachers, former government officials and ex-soldiers, I had them, slain, brutally murdered along with their wives and children.
The slightest disrespect aimed at me would result in the accused being shot, if they were lucky. Many were stricken to death with an axe, my personal favourite form of punishment. My message to the people of Kampuchea was simple: “What is rotten must be removed”. In the villages, unsupervised gatherings of more than two people were forbidden and all young people were taken from their parents and placed in communals, later married off in collective ceremonies involving hundreds of unwilling couples.
Over 20,000 people were tortured into giving false confessions at Tuol Sleng, a school in Phnom Penh which was converted into a jail. Elsewhere, I ordered suspects to be shot on the spot before questioning and ethnic communities were attacked, including the three largest minorities, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Cham Muslims. Over 50% of all Chinese living in the country died and the Muslims were forced to eat pork. Refusal would cost them the ultimate price.
But all was not well, with continuing Vietnamese attacks on Cambodia I was left with a shaky hold on power, therefore myself and other Cambodian leaders were forced to flee Phnom Penh in January 1979. We regrouped and established an underground government in Western Cambodia and in the Cardamom mountain range. Yet, in July 1979 I was sentenced to death for the murder of my own people. The sentence was issued by the new government, the “People’s Republic of Kampuchea” and was put into place with the help of the Vietnamese forces.
With the world focusing on Cambodia, I sadly had to step down as Cambodian prime minister in December 1979. However, I still remained as party secretary general and I was still the head of the communist party’s military commission, making me the overall commander of Cambodia’s thirty-thousand-man force battling the Vietnamese in Cambodia. Little was known of my activities after this, but in September 1985 I announced that I had retired as commander of Cambodia’s “National Army” and I had been appointed to be the “Director of the Higher Institute for National Defence”.
After several years of living underground, I was finally captured in a remote northern area in June 1997. I was sentenced to life imprisonment, but while under house arrest, I died of heart failure on the 15th April 1998. After I died Cambodia is still recovering even to this day, from the mass destruction of society as we know it, Cambodia plunged into war that bought more destruction, pain and sorrow to its people over the next few years. Only after the war ended did Cambodia begin its struggle to rebuild the nfrastructure and to be recognised again as a country in its own right and give freedom, democracy and power back to its people. However, in recent years Cambodia has started looking forward to a brighter future, with Prince Norodom Sihamoni as the current monarch and Hun Sen as prime minister of Cambodia’s People Party. The country has now just become stable enough to modernise its economy and gain assistance from wealthier countries. The legacy of my reign isn’t a clear one but one thing for sure it wasn’t an ideal one.
“Wikipedia – Pol Pot.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pol_Pot>. “Pol Pot killer file.” Moreorless : Heroes and killers of the 20th century. N.p., 24 Sept.__ 2001. Web. 16 Feb. 2012.<http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/pot.html “BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb._ 2012.<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asiapacific/78988.stm>. “Cambodian Genocide – Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge – YouTube .”YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. . N.p., 6 Aug. 2007. Web. 2 Mar. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-SI8RF6wDE>.