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A Forgotten Tyrant: Pol Pot of Cambodia who Caused 2 Million Deaths

An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.


Introduction-rise of Pol Pot

Cambodia is a small country in the South East of Asia. The people are predominantly Buddhist. Here is the dichotomy that a religion which is characterized as non-violent and pacifist, yet produced a man like Pol Pot who believed in killings, sexual exploitation, and slavery of his own people. This period has been classified as the 'Cambodian genocide' and I'm afraid much of this would not have taken place in case the United States had not connived with his regime.

One can draw a parallel with what is happening in Afghanistan. Here the Taliban has now come to power courtesy of the United States. I understand the US despite the terrorist tag on the Taliban and the mass killing in the name of Sharia ( Islamic Law) is all set to try and accommodate the regime.

When we look at Pol Pot we find that he was born in 1925 and was certainly not a deprived individual but belonged to an affluent family. His family owned nearly 50 acres of rice paddy land and that's a lot of land in a country like Cambodia.

Early Education

Indo-China was a French preserve and the French dominated the entire scenario. Pol Pot grew up in French colonial rule. He attended a French Catholic school but his teachers probably had no influence on him. As Cambodia was a French colony most of the students aspired to go to France for higher education and Pol Pot was no exception. In 1949 he proceeded to study radio technology in Paris on a scholarship.

He had his first introduction to Marxism in France and on his return to Cambodia in 1953 had become a convinced Marxist. During World War II the French were defeated in no time. At the end of the war, they tried to reassert their authority in Indo-China which had been swept by the Imperial army. Despite support from the United States, the French were not equal to the task and were defeated and had to leave Indo-China. The overthrow of French rule resulted in Cambodia becoming independent.

Pol Pot joined the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP) but became an active member-only much later. Nobody had an inkling about his maniacal tendencies and for seven years from 1956 -63, he taught French, history, and geography in a private school.



I have never been able to understand how people who follow a pacifist religion given birth by Gautama Buddha, suddenly showed violent tendencies. It is a known fact of history that Japan which was another Buddhist country and China which had a large number of Buddhists perpetrated violence where ever they went.

Nobody has been able to analyze why Pol Pot suddenly deviated from classic Marxism and brought his own version of communism into Cambodia. It is similar to what Mao Tse Tung did in China. He now decided to take the revolutionary path and in 1962, became the leader of the Cambodian Communist party and escaped into the jungles.

Cambodia had at that was a monarchy and the ruler was Prince Sihanouk. He had earlier collaborated with the French. It was Prince Sihanouk, who had ordered a crackdown on the communists. Now politics took an ugly turn and Prince Sihanouk when out of the country faced a military coup in 1970. Suddenly the prince was without a throne and he was wondering what to do. He did an extremely silly thing as he sided with the Khmer Rouge. This had tragic consequences later on.


Support From USA

The plot now becomes really murky because the United States was opposing North Vietnam and was looking for anybody who could join them against Ho Chi Minh. At that time the United States supported the Khmer against Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces that had entered Cambodia. The US president at the time was Nixon and then Ford.

A secret bombing campaign was launched which lasted from 1970-73. The USA dropped 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia. This was 3 times more than the bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. The bombing ended in 1973. The Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot had now greatly increased their strength and in an all-out guerrilla war came to power in 1975.

The USA fearing North Vietnamese domination committed another blunder by recognizing the regime of the Khmer Rouge. Don't we have pointers of Afghanistan here? The USA will very soon recognize the Taliban regime with who they had started negotiations, though they had classified them as a terrorist group for the last 20 years. In Cambodia also they recognized the Pol Pot regime which carried out mass genocide that has no parallel in world history.

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Killing fields

It is difficult to comprehend the mind of Pol pot. Considering the fact that he was educated in France, one could expect the liberalism of French culture would be imbibed by him. But he believed in establishing an agrarian utopia. The methods for setting up this Utopia were extremely brutal.

He started his campaign to achieve that agrarian utopia by targeting the elite consisting of intellectuals, doctors, businessmen, and other educated Cambodians. These people were stripped of all their rights and made to work in the fields and many a time the educated woman of this elite were taken away for sexual gratification and after that were also forced to work in the field.

His gift to humanity is the famous killings fields where thousands of Cambodians were buried after they had died due to forced labor and starvation. During this entire period, the USA just sat like a mummy having recognized Pol Pot as the sole ruler of Cambodia. It has now been estimated by historians that about 25% of the population of Cambodia was killed and people point out that during this period the United States had a big diplomatic presence in Cambodia.

A Mass Murderer: Hand of the USA

Much of this mass murder could have been avoided in case the USA had not supported the Khmer Rouge with arms and weaponry till the very end. One should be very clear about American character and politics and I have written this article only to bring to the knowledge of readers all over the world, the character of the American government and regime. They signed what has been referred to as the Faustian pact. If they can support Pol Pot you can very well expect them to start supporting the Taliban also and they will forget about 9/11 and the 3000 American killed. They will also forget about almost 400 to 500 American still in the custody of the Taliban.

After his death, an UN-sponsored tribunal was set up, but to date, one Khmer Rouge leader has been convicted.

The best part of all this is that Pol Pot was never brought to trial for his crimes. He died in bed maybe he was happy. He also led a normal sex life.. He married Khieu Ponnary in 1956. She was his wife when he ordered the mass killings and executions but he divorced her in 80s and married again. As far as I know, she spent the last years of her life in a mental asylum and passed away in 1993. Can one call it the wages of sin.

I am a strong believer in Lord Krishna and I have no doubt in my mind that Joe Biden will have to pay a very heavy price for negotiating with the Taliban and throwing away the mandate given to him by humanity by bending and kneeling to this terrorist organization..

Carter supported the Pol Pot regime for a seat in the UN.

Carter supported the Pol Pot regime for a seat in the UN.

Fall of Pol Pot

The Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979 with 60,000 troops and artillery and Pol Pot fled into the Jungles. He was ousted but did not surrender. He remained in the jungles. There are rumors that he was provided support by the USA. Now here is the biggest irony of this Shakespearean tragedy. The USA which had a big say in the United Nations insisted that the United Nations continue to recognize the Pol Pot regime as the legitimate government of Cambodia. This charade ended in 1998, when he died in his sleep at Anlong Veng. While hiding in the jungles he continued to be recognized by the UNO as the legitimate ruler of Cambodia.

Pol Pot never paid for the crimes he committed against the Cambodian people. It is one of the ironies of history that a man who executed or killed over 1.5-2 million people never paid for his crimes to humanity. In 1997 he was put under house arrest by a faction of the Khmer Rouge and died in bed.


  • Haas Micheal (1991). Cambodia, Pol Pot, and the United States: The Faustian Pact. ABC-CLIO.
  • Fawthrop, Tom (2004). Getting Away With Genocide: Cambodia's Long Struggle Against the Khmer Rouge. Pluto Press.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 07, 2021:

Thanks, Peggy it is sad that Pol Pot never paid for his sins but it would not have happened if the USA did not support him. I wonder if Americans have a penchant for supporting such people all the time. Yes, Trump did start the negotiations but he was a maverick and I'm sure he would've backed off at the last moment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 07, 2021:

Thanks, Tom, Cambodia is a dogs game. Things are much better now. I had been there in 2019 and I found a Fair amount of freedom and the Cambodian girls were fine.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 07, 2021:

John, thanks, you are spot on. America has a lot to atone for.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 07, 2021:

That is a dark spot in history regarding Pol Pot and what happened to all of those people who died under his rule. Yes, the U.S. played a part in that war in combination with the one in Vietnam. Many of us did not know about those facts until long after they came to life. Both of my brothers saw service in Vietnam.

As to Afghanistan, don't forget that it was Trump who negotiated the deal with Afghanistan as to the U.S. pulling all of our troops out. President Biden will also bear the brunt of the final outcome in history books. As to recognizing the Taliban as an official government, we will see if that happens. Right now, there is no other option when it comes to dealing with them. These wars sicken me! So many innocent people are affected.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 07, 2021:

Pol Pot certainly was a cruel tyrant who never paid for his horrendous crimes against his own people. Why does it not surprise me that the US Government was involved in supporting his regime? Thank you for sharing MG.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 07, 2021:

Bill, so nice you commented. Honestly, I am quite sick of all these actions of Joe Biden as I have so many relations in the United States.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 07, 2021:

Thank you, Col for sparing time and commenting. It's a great morale boost.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 07, 2021:

I remember his quite well. An animal with a suit on. Your grasp of history is spot on, my friend. We reap what we sow as a government.

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