A huge part of Cambodia’s more recent history focusses on the emergence of Communist forces known as the Khmer Rouge. Formed as an offset of the Vietnam People’s Army, the Khmer Rouge ruled the country from 1975-79, following its establishment only a few years earlier in 1968. Their ideology centred largely around an amalgamation of Marxist theology, extreme Khmer nationalism and xenophobia.
During the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge was allied against anti-Communist forces in its surrounding countries, such as the Viet Cong and the Pathet Lao.
Their time in charge was not a successful period. The social policy insisted on self-subsistence, leading to thousands of deaths due to famine and disease and even more through their orchestration of torture and murder – now recognised as the Cambodian Genocide.
Although the country remains Communist, the Khmer Rouge were removed from power only four years after their instatement. Replaced by a far more moderate government, the country has since prospered and the Khmer Rouge organisation itself was dissolved by leader Pol Pot in 1996 following a peace treaty.
To learn more about the Khmer Rouge and their cruel four year reign over Cambodia, we would recommend visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, located in the Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Known as ‘S-21’, around 30, 000 prisoners were held at the site which has now become a museum that displays the original photography of the torture and mass murder that occurred inside. Although this is an excursion that is certainly not for the faint hearted, this horrible period is one that needs to be remembered – we would strongly recommend a visit to the museum if you are interested in Cambodian history.