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The Killing Fields
Brief History of Cambodia • • • Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953 • April 1975, after a five year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns • 1. 7 million killed (25% of population
Demographics • • • 90% of Cambodians consider themselves to be ethnic Khmers • More than 50% of the population is less than 21 years old. • Country is slightly smaller than Oklahoma • 14 million population (Oklahoma has 3. 6 mil)
Pol Pot (Soloth Sar) • lived in Buddhist monastery for six years • leader of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas • tried to turn Cambodia into a selfsufficient, agrarian utopia • The name Khmer Rouge, which means "Red Khmers, " was given to a left-wing Cambodian faction in the 1950 s. Led by Pol Pot, it gained control of Cambodia in 1975. And then began one of the century's greatest massacres.
He Started Over = Year Zero Eliminate all knowledge of the past!!!! "To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss. " Khmer Rouge Proverb
How did he intend to pull this off? • By enlisting the youth (9, 10, 11 year old kids) of the country in his new army known as the Khmer Rouge (the young are easy to influence). • By wiping the country clean of traces of the past (killing those with knowledge of the past). • By controlling all aspects of the country (politically, economically and socially)
• By forcing all citizens into collectives to work according to age, gender and skill. • By holding indoctrination sessions every evening to remind them all of the wonderful rewards of communism. • By publicly murdering anyone that questioned the Khmer Rouge.
Who are the Khmer Rouge?
Khmer Rouge • The Communist Khmer Rouge came to power in this small Southeast Asian nation in 1975 as part of the vast upheaval caused largely by the spilling over of the Vietnam War. • The Khmer are communist followers of Pol Pot (brother number one). • Most are young and enjoy their new power
When the Khmer took over: • The populations of Cambodia's cities were forced to evacuate the cities, move to the countryside and engage in agricultural labor. = Communes/Collectives/Cooperatives
• They closed most institutions (schools, banks, government buildings, churches) and vowed to provide for their needs in the countryside. • They required absolute obedience from all Cambodians.
What type of person was the most threatening to the Khmer Rouge’s power?
Who was murdered? People with glasses People who could speak another language People whom had traveled Foreigners Counter-revolutionaries The educated, the wealthy, Buddhist monks, police, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and former government officials were killed. Foreigners were killed as well.
“Democratic Republic of Kampuchea” Television and Radio stations shut down Radios and Bicycles confiscated Money Forbidden Mail system and telephone system stopped Religion banned Businesses stopped Healthcare stopped Education halted Parental Authority revoked, no more recognition of family units: – Children were often given authority because their minds were not “tainted” by the modern world. The government was the only authority. Cambodia was sealed off from the outside.
Year Zero, April 17, 1975 • Start of Purging (to clear or empty): -Capitalism -Western Culture -City life -Religion -All foreign influences • Cities forcibly evacuated. -Phnom Penh, 200, 000 people evacuated On foot at gun point • 20, 000 died along the way.
Educated Prisoner • Intellectuals and anyone else seen as standing in the way of the new social order were mercilessly killed, while many of those who escaped execution died from overwork and starvation.
S-21 Prison (Interrogation Center) (a former high school)
S-21 Prison • This building is now a museum devoted to helping those impacted by these events. • Many Cambodians travel here to try to understand what happened to their families and friends. • Like the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge were systematic in keeping records of their victims. Each prisoner who passed through S 21 was photographed, sometimes both before and after being tortured. The walls of the S-21 prison now display photographs of men, women and children who were tortured while at S-21 prison. Virtually all the people pictured were later killed.
Torture room with the many devices and weapons used to inflict pain on the prisoners. • Between 1975 and 1978, about 17, 000 men, women, children and infants (including nine Westerners), detained and tortured at S-21 prison (Now Tuol Sleng Museum), were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek to be executed. They were bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets. Bludgeon- beat (someone) repeatedly with a bludgeon (a thick stick with a heavy end) or other heavy object.
Tortured Victims murdered inside S-21
Cause of death • The specialists found three types of trauma to the skulls, which caused or contributed to the death of each individual: • Blunt-force trauma (from such implements as a gun butt, hammer, mallet, or log): • Sharp-force trauma (from a cutting implement such as a machete, knife, hoe, ax, or hatchet): • Gunshot wounds:
Blunt Force Trauma • Blunt force trauma is a severe traumatic episode caused to the body or head by a blunt instrument used with great force. This can sometimes be caused by an attacker striking out at a victim with their hands, a large piece of wood, a baseball bat or other such item that would cause heavy damage to the body or skull if impacted against them quickly. • Contusions - Bruising: - Often a good indicator that there are broken blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin.
Blunt Force trauma
Sharp force trauma includes: • Incised wounds – Sharp cut-like injuries caused by any object having a sharp edge (knife, glass, etc). Example: knives and broken glass • Stab wounds - which are incised wounds where the length of injury on the surface is less than the depth of penetration into the body. • Slash wounds - which are incised wounds that are longer than they are deep. • Chop wounds - are caused by implements such as machetes, meat cleavers, swords, axes etc. They are often severe in nature, and can include extensive soft tissue and bone damage.
Sharp Force Trauma
trauma • Cranium of a man, 25 to 45 years old. • Gunshot wound of entrance in the left frontal convexity with the bullet passing into the brain from right to left and downward on a 45 -degree angle (as indicated by the “keyhole” effect).
Trauma • Cranium of a man, 30 to 55 years old. • Gunshot wound of entrance in the superior-posterior frontal convexity (top of the head) with the bullet passing left to right and downwards into the brain and exiting the skull in the right temple.
Trauma • Cranium of a man, 20 to 40 years old. • Gunshot wound of right anteriorparietal convexity (right side of the top of the head) with the bullet passing downward into the skull through the brain and exit to the left of the foramen magnum (base of the neck where the spinal cord emerges from the brain)
Trauma • Cranium of a man, 30 to 50 years old. • Multiple blunt impact sites with a complex system of skull fractures.
Trauma • Cranium of a man, 25 to 45 years old. • Complex system of hacking skull fractures due to impacts in the back of the head.
Trauma • Cranium of a man, 25 to 45 years old. • Deeply incised wound (cut), or superficial chopping/hacking wounds.
So what brought an end to all of this? • The Vietnamese invaded and took over Cambodia ousting the Khmer Rouge from power (1978). • The country remained communist for some time but not in such extreme conditions. • Pol Pot fled into the jungle and remained in hiding until his death in 1998. • Pol Pot denied that he had ever done anything wrong and truly believed he held the future of Cambodia in his hands.
From 1979 to 1997, he and a remnant of the old Khmer Rouge operated from the border region of Cambodia and Thailand, where they clung to power, with nominal United Nations recognition as the rightful government of Cambodia. He died in 1998 while under house arrest by a faction of the Khmer Rouge. Since his death, rumors that he was poisoned have persisted. Pol Pot's death in April 1998 heralded the end of the brutal career of a man responsible for overseeing one of the worst genocides of the 20 th century. Pol Pot
The Cambodian genocide of 1975 -1979, eliminated approximately 1. 7 million people (about 25% of the country's population) A Killing Field
Want to see a great movie on this historical event? “The Killing Fields”