The leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot set up the communist government in Cambodia after the US carpet bombed Cambodia and made it politically unstable. The genocide that followed was horrendous. The genocide continues to affect the country to this day. When examining the Cambodian genocide, it’s clear that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, carried out the 8 stages of genocide, with typically horrific results.
Classification categorizes people based on their ethnicity, race religion or nationality. The main classification during this genocide was a division made between the “Old People” and the “New People”. People living in urban areas / cities were called the New People because of their western ideas and educations. The
Old People were classified as such because they lived a more traditional life in rural areas. The Khmer Rouge garnered most of their support from the less educated rural people. During Pol pots reign The New people were heavily targeted and suffered greater losses and more abuse than the old people. The educated and more free thinking new people were viewed as a threat to pol pot and his regime. They were considered to be inferior and the lowest class of person in the country. They were subservient to the other classes. When they were forced by the khmer Rouge to leave their homes they were also not allowed to farm – this was a way of starving them to death. Pol pot claimed that this was because they had led ‘corrupt’ lives and had to be trained to be ‘productive” workers. In order to break their spirits and instil a sense of loyalty, the new people were not the only people that were abused and killed by the Khmer Rouge. Muslim Chams were also terribly oppressed by this regime and were heavily targeted for extermination. About 400,000 Muslims were killed through the extermination process. The division of the country through classifaction was a crucial part of the cambodian genocide.
As with many other genocides throughout history, Symbolization was used to re-inforce the classification and dehumanistion stages of this genocide. Just like the mandatory Star Of David given to the jews during The Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge assigned a blue scarf to the new people (those from the eastern zones of Cambodia). This blue scarf was a symbol used to distinguish those marked for extermination, ie the New People. Another indentifier that was used to classify those for extermintaion was anyone wearing glasses. This was a type of symbol indicating to the khmer rouge that these people were educated and were literate and therefore could speak out and publish literature aginst the regime. Most cities were destroyed as this is where most of the people branded with blue scarves lived. The khmer rouge believed that the cities depicted a westernized ideology that which threatened the peasnt driven, communist society they were trying to create.
Dehumanization is the third stage in genocide. It is the denial of the targeted people’s humanity. Depicting the targeted group as not being human, as being vermin and pests, helps and encourages the extremists get over any unwillingness to kill. This tactic was used to demonize higher ranking people of the opposition such as XXXXX. Pol pot and the khmer rouge painted the opposition as demons who needed to be eradicated in order for a better way of life to begin ie communism. This dehumanisation process was enabled by the use of propganda for example pol pots “Little Red Book” stating things such as XXXX and slogans such as XXXX. The Khmer Rouge denied the humanity of those they opposed by banning radio sets, banning affection between two people, and even killing those who laughed, smiled, or cried. They also ensured people sleep in uncomfortable environments with very many other people. This created divison, fear, paranoia, and distrust of each other and through this the popluation turned on one another and towards Pol Pot’s governmemt empowering them to carry the genocide.
Organization plays a pivotal part in all genocides. The Khmer Rouge were very systematic in their execution of their plans. Prior to their rise to power they established random check points throughout the country where they would question all people passing through forcing them to provide documentation such as, XxXxxxx to prove their class background and ethnicity. This was registered and lists created for future use. On their rise to power these lists were very useful in determining who should be targeted as an enemy to pol pot. This planning phase enabled them to carry out the genocide more efficiently. The regime also destabilised the lives of the targeted NEW PEOpLE by evacuating the XXX capital city of Phnom Pehn. Leaving them without an organised power base. They then further destabilised their opposition by separating men from women, husbands from wives and children from parents. They were sent to different work camps where they were forced to do hard labour, and the majority starved to death or were shot. Careful planning and organiztion was key to the success to pol pots regime. Organistaion was a crucial part of making sure he could control any resitance.
Polarization is the behaviour of a social or political group to split based on opposing views. polarization is enacted, then it can rapidly increase the speed and support of the genocide and cause a much higher rate of casualties. Without polarization the public would be more likely to oppose the notion of genocide is the act of killing the opposition or any moderates who oppose the extremists. The Khmer rouge decided that they wanted to show that they had enemies. So they put the new people against the old people. The new people hated the old people as they were favoured more by the Khmer Rouge and were not worked as hard and received more food. The old people hated the new people because the Khmer Rouge told them to. This widened the gap between the people and made them easy to manipulate. They also painted the US and Vietnam as their enemies as well as anyone else who had ties to the west. Identification is the process of identifying the victims and classifying them. The Khmer Rouge was secretive from the beginning. They had an agenda that included the eradication of the Vietnamese in Cambodia, yet they relied on them as allies. In preparation, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia secretly killed the Cambodians that had been trained by the North Vietnamese. They were also forced to remain hidden because they were attacked by Prince Sihanouk’s government. But eventually, he joined forces with the Khmer Rouge. But all their alliances were temporary even though the Vietnamese and Prince Sihanouk thought of them as permanent. The Khmer Rouge had their own agenda. The forced evacuation of Phnom Penh was a preparation step for the genocide. *insert concluding sentence*
Extermination is a term that describes the killing of pests which exemplifies the effects of dehumanization. The victims were not considered humans they were considered vermin or pests. This prompted the makings of mass graves and the brutal killings that took place. People were killed by harsh forced labour, mass executions and internal killings. The Khmer Rouge imposed harsh labour. They forced the people to work excruciatingly long hours they were given barely any food and weren’t allowed to grow their own. The Khmer Rouge also conducted mass executions in which hundreds of thousands of people were executed. After some time the Khmer Rouge became paranoid and started killing their own members who they suspected of treason.
Denial is the final stage of the genocide, the perpetrators of the genocide try to cover up the evidence and divert attention away from the atrocities that they committed. The Khmer Rouge burned all the records and then refuse historians to access the few records that survived the burnings. They covered up the mass graves. Denial is possibly one of the most mentally destructive parts of genocide as it makes it seem like all the suffering the victims went through is insignificant.
The cruelty that the Cambodian people went through is unimaginable. The rest of the worlds reluctance to step in and help in fear for another world war only caused more suffering for the innocent civilians of Cambodia. Millions are still suffering from the lasting effects of the genocide something something idk man