Cambodian History: People’s Republic of Kampuchea (1979- )

Figure 1.--Here a 16-year old Cambodian boy, his growth stunted by lack of food, leads his blinded father back to their home after obtaining some building material. His father's eyes were taken out by the Kymer Rouge with a whip. The press captiinnread, "Death of aation: An incredible human disaster has happened in Cambodiawhere an estimated 2 million people have been killed by a fanatical regime whose apparent aim was to wipe out anyone and everything connected with the modern world. The evidnce of the appalling massacre is only now coming to light after almost four years of torture, starvatin and mass murder on a gigantic scale."The photograph is dated Septenber 13, 1979.

The Vietnamese supported the Kymer Rouge during the Vietnamese War. This was critical in the Kymer Rouge victory (1975). There was subsequntly a falling out. Vietnam invaded Cambodia and drove out the Kymer Rouge, their former Communist allies (December 1978). They set up a puppet regime -- People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). The Vietnamese used former KR personnel as well as Cambodians who had fled into Vietnam before the KR victory in 1975. The PBK was led by Heng Samrin. Few new governments faced such daunting prolems with so few resources. The Vietnaamese were sucesful at making war, but like othr Communist regimes unable to manage a sucessful economy. Vietnam became pne of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia while neighnoring counttries made conomic progress. As a result, while the North Vietnamese drove out the Kymer Rouge, they could not provide significant economic aid. As the Cambodian people trickled back from the countryside, they found few operating amenities or a Givernment unable to provide basic necesities. The PRK faced a task of rebuilding a country more devestated than most countries had been by World War II and largely by their own government. Nearly 2 million people had been murdered or died from diseases due hunger, over work, and a lack of medicines and medical services. Tens of thousands were made widows and orphans. Another 0.5 million Cambodians not wanting to live in a Communixt ciuntry have settled in foreign countries. The millions who managed to survive were severely traumatized by their horrendous experiences--leading to mental disorders that lasted a life time. Several hundred thousand Cambodians had fled their country and became refugees. The Civil War combatant forces laid millions of mines leading to thousands of deaths and disabilities. These horrors continue to plague modern Cambodia. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War was over (1989). This and Soviet economic problems resulted in the end of Vietnams principal source of foreign aid. With Soviet support gone, the Vietnamese withdrew their troops. This opened the way for intrnational recognition of the Cambodian regime. The Vietnamese exit was, howver, not without problems. The Khmer Rouge still existed and were threatening military action. Cambodia was still largely isolted and in desperate need of foreign aid. The Government began to make economic changes and attracy foreign investors.


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Created: 5:28 AM 2/16/2015
Last updated: 5:28 AM 2/16/2015