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Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge
Read last week’s post about Cambodia.
The Khmer Rouge was a communist regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The leader, Pol Pot, left a legacy of genocide and famine. It was one of the most lethal regimes of the 20th century. Cambodia is still recovering from the damage it caused.
According to HumanTrafficking.org, “The International Labour Organization argues that the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime is still felt both psychologically and economically and plays a direct role in labor and sexual exploitation arising from ill-prepared migration. The upheavals caused by the conflict and lack of opportunities in rural areas have fueled a return to the cities and urban areas, all but emptied during the Khmer Rouge period.”
The Khmer Rouge’s goal was to create a fully agrarian society and root out all vestiges of capitalism. They deported urban people to the country and put them in forced labor camps. They murdered anyone who they thought had capitalist connections, and they ran the labor camps brutality, killing anyone they chose, whenever they chose. There are several areas in Cambodia that have come to be known as the killing fields because of the mass kills and burials that occurred there.
They believed that parents would pass on capitalistic ideas to their children, so they took children from their parents, brainwashed them, and gave them leadership roles in torture and executions.
The motto of the so-called New People was “To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.” It echoes painfully the philosophy of modern day slavery where people are a disposable property.
The last Khmer Rouge stronghold fell in 1998, the same year Pol Pot died. He never faced a since charge for the atrocities he orchestrated.
It’s estimated that during four-year reign, 1.5 million people died (one-fifth of the country’s population).
With such a brutal history, it’s no wonder that Cambodia and its young population (more than half under 20 years old) struggle to combat human trafficking. In the next few weeks, we’ll look at the progress being made by Hagar and other organizations and the ways everyday abolitionists can get involved.
Below are some photos Emily took when she was in Cambodia last year. She visited a school that had been converted to a prison where many people were murdered. It’s now a memorial to those who were killed.