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The Pol Pot Regime ... 1975-79

The Pol Pot Regime ... 1975-79: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    The Pol Pot Regime ... 1975-79
    Book Description:

    This edition of Ben Kiernan's definitive account of the Cambodian revolution and genocide includes a new preface that takes the story up to 2008 and the UN-sponsored Khmer Rouge tribunal.

    "Deeply detailed, meticulously reported. . . . Important [and] valuable." -Nation

    "In this authoritative work, Ben Kiernan . . . explores the reasons why Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge revolution became a Cambodian nightmare." -Richard Gough,Times Higher Education Supplement

    "Perhaps the most complete [account of Pol Pot's terror] and the closest to Cambodian sources." -Economist

    "One of the most important contributions to the subject so far." -R. B. Smith,Asian Affairs

    "Kiernan, the leading authority on modern Cambodia, meticulously examines Pol Pot's killing machine and clears up many misconceptions found in earlier studies. . . . An important book for students of genocide as well as scholars of Southeast Asia." -Library Journal

    "[A] detailed and chilling history." -Asiaweek

    "The most detailed history to date of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. . . . This book . . . will certainly be the benchmark against which all future research on the Khmer Rouge must be measured. Very highly recommended." -Choice

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14299-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Third Edition
    (pp. ix-xxiv)
  4. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xxv-xxxii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxvi)
  6. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xxxvii-xxxviii)
  7. Glossary
    (pp. xxxix-xlii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: The Making of the 1975 Khmer Rouge Victory
    (pp. 1-28)

    Sixty-eight long-haired soldiers trudged across the border from southern Vietnam. In their American uniforms they looked like troops of the defeated Saigon regime. It was April, the hottest time of the year in Cambodia, and they must have been relieved to get there. Dressed in khaki uniforms and U.S. army boots, white sweat bands on their wrists, they dripped with grenades and firearms. Some carried U.S.-made M-16 rifles, others M-79 grenade launchers and packs of rice rations. They were all in their twenties, except for the leader, who was over fifty but also wore his hair long. He carried a...

  9. Part I: Wiping the Slate Clean:: The Regime Takes Shape

    • CHAPTER TWO Cleansing the Cities: The Quest for Total Power
      (pp. 31-64)

      “Beloved brothers, sisters, workers, youths, students, teachers and functionaries,” announced the clandestine CPK radio on 16 April 1975. “Now is the time! Here are our Cambodian People’s National Liberation Armed Forces, brothers! . . . Rebel! . . . It is time for you to rise up and liberate Phnom Penh.”¹ But to most Cambodians, it was the time of the traditional Khmer New Year festival. Seng Horl, then a student at Phnom Penh’s Faculty of Law, remembers: “On 15 and 16 April, the whole city of Phnom Penh were playing gambling games all over town.”² Another Khmer recalls that...

    • CHAPTER THREE Cleansing the Countryside: Race, Power, and the Party, 1973–75
      (pp. 65-101)

      In 1973–74, U.S. State Department officer Kenneth Quinn carried out one of the first studies of the Khmer Rouge. Reporting the testimony of refugees on the Cambodia-South Vietnam border, Quinn showed how Cambodia’s insurgency was split between the hard-lineKhmer Krahom(Red Khmer, or K.K.) and the moderate, pro-Sihanouk, pro-VietnameseKhmer Rumdos(Khmer Liberation, or K.R.). Quinn noted that the Khmer Rumdos “control the KC [Khmer Communist] movement in Prey Veng,” in the Eastern Zone. But across the Mekong River was Vorn Vet’s Special Zone and beyond it, Mok’s Southwest. Here the Center-sponsored K.K. faction ran the insurgency. By...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Cleansing the Frontiers: Neighbors, Friends, and Enemies, 1975–76
      (pp. 102-156)

      Pol Pot’s assertion that he had won a “cleanvictory,” a triumph “without any foreign connection or involvement,” is difficult to defend. The CIA’S chief strategy analyst in Saigon, Frank Snepp, reported that Phnom Penh’s fall was hastened by the CPK’S “ultimate weapon . . . captured U.S. 105 mm. howitzers that were undoubtedly a gift of the North Vietnamese.”¹ A Chinese official added in 1977 that “in the battle of liberation for Phnom Penh, Vietnam sent more than two army divisions into the war. As a result, Phnom Penh was liberated even before Saigon.”² There is no evidence to...

  10. Part II: Writing on the Slate, 1975–77:: The CPK Project

    • CHAPTER FIVE An Indentured Agrarian State, 1975–77(I): The Base Areas—The Southwest and the East
      (pp. 159-215)

      Leng Sei and the other Cambodian women who traveled to Vietnam in September 1976 brought an invitation for Ha Thi Que to make a return visit in November. They followed up with a second letter, inviting Que to lead a Women’s Union delegation. The one-week visit began on 7 February 1977. Ha Thi Que and her companions, a Catholic Vietnamese, a textile worker, a doctor, and a Khmer speaker, drove from Ho Chi Minh City to the border. Leng Sei met them there with about 50 Cambodian women and a male interpreter. The women wore their hair short, in what...

    • CHAPTER SIX An Indentured Agrarian State, 1975–77 (II): Peasants and Deportees in the Northwest
      (pp. 216-250)

      The Southwest and Eastern Zones were long-held CPK base areas with overwhelmingly peasant populations. In the Northwest, on the other hand, most of Battambang had remained under Lon Nol’s control until 1975. Its peasants were mostly “new people,” and its urban areas swollen with refugees. In late 1975 may more urban evacuees arrived. The Northwest offers an interesting contrast to CPK rule in other Zones.

      Following the evacuation of Phnom Penh, there were two population movements from the Southwest (and also the new Western Zone) to the Northwest. From mid-1975, the Southwest was cleared of almost all new people, as...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER SEVEN Ethnic Cleansing: The CPK and Cambodia’s Minorities, 1975–77
      (pp. 251-310)

      During the colonial period, French ethnologists churned out studies of Cambodia’s small exotic tribal communities. They practically ignored the majority Khmer. Independence reversed this problem: now the minority cultures were neglected. The hill tribes officially became “Upper Khmers” (Khmer Loeu), while Muslim Chams became “Islamic Khmers.” Like the Thai and Lao minorities, these groups were not counted separately in the 1962 census, the only one conducted in postwar Cambodia, sparking contro versy over their numbers.¹ Cambodia’s Chinese are better known.² But the Vietnamese community has yet to be seriously studied. The fate of all minorities in Democratic Kampuchea has been...

  11. Part III: The Slate Crumbles, 1977-79:: Convulsion and Destruction

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Power Politics, 1976–77
      (pp. 313-356)

      The internal political life of the CPK regime appears to outsiders even more impenetrable than it did to ordinary citizens of Democratic Kampuchea, few of whom knew anything about it. The Center regarded “secrecy as the basis” of its revolution.¹ But the accounts of occasional witnesses, and surviving internal documents, allow us to trace the Center’s gradual assertion of control over the fourteen thousand-strong party apparatus.² This casts light on the renewed repression and the squeeze on rural living conditions in 1977, detailed in Part 2. In 1976 and 1977 the Center murdered or jailed most leading CPK officials, in...

    • CHAPTER NINE Foreign Relations, 1977–78: Warfare, Weapons, and Wildlife
      (pp. 357-385)

      The end of 1976 had seen relative peace on Cambodia’s borders. But in December, Pol Pot ordered the CPK to “make long-term preparations for a guerrilla war and for a war using conventional forces.”¹ In January 1977, DK officials began withdrawing from all bilateral frontier liaison committees.² In Phnom Penh in the same month, a soldier of the Center’s llth Division recalls hearing for the first time that Vietnam was an “aggressor” and an “enemy” of Democratic Kampuchea. The deputy division commander, a northeastern tribal cadre named Lovei, announced this at a battalion study session.³ On 27 January, on the...

    • CHAPTER TEN “Thunder without Rain”: Race and Power in Cambodia, 1978
      (pp. 386-439)

      On 31 December 1977, Democratic Kampuchea officially severed diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Four days later, Pol Pot issued secret instructions to “attack from behind the enemy’s back.” His orders stated, “We have to fight a guerrilla war everywhere, both outside the enemy’s borders and within the enemy’s borders. . . . And the guerrillas must use small forces to enter the enemy’s borders everywhere. . . . In large or small spearheads, we have to intrude our guerrilla squads; one or two, two or three, six or seven squads. . . . If one spearhead has a guerrilla squad go...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The End of the Pol Pot Regime
      (pp. 440-466)

      Since July 1978, Heng Samrin had been attempting to coordinate the two-thousand-strong Eastern Zone resistance. Following the paths of his officers north across Highway 7, he found Song Neat, commanding a company of 4th Division rebels in Memot, and Pol Saroeun’s artillery support troops. Heng Samrin claims that fifty-strong rebel units launched about ten attacks on Center forces in this period, “especially in Damber, at Chup, and on the river bank at Krauchhmar.” Once they attacked a convoy of Center trucks, destroying three and seizing another, which they drove into the forest until it ran out of fuel. In another...

  12. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 467-470)
  13. Index
    (pp. 471-477)