The Horrors Of War
What is the Cambodian Genocide?
What had happened prior to the genocide? How did these events affect the war?
The United States erratically bombed North Vietnamese shelters in eastern Cambodia from 1969 until 1973, resulting in the deaths of up to 150,000 Cambodian peasants.
This same year, the U.S. invaded Cambodia looking to drive out the North Vietnamese from their military camps along the border. This just drove the Vietnamese deeper into Cambodia where they united themselves with the Khmer Rouge.
The U.S. had pulled its troops from Vietnam by 1975 and Cambodia's government lost its American military support. Pol Pot took advantage of this opportunity and led his Khmer Rouge army, consisting primarily of teenage peasant, into Phnom Penh.
Who Were The Political Leaders On Each Side?
Pol Pot was the leader of the Khmer Rouge and wanted to turn Cambodia into a communist country. Meaning no electronics, education, religion, etc. Pol Pot was against city people, he wanted to turn everyone into peasants. He believed peasants were "simple, uneducated, hard-working, and not prone to exploiting others." Those who lived in the cities were seen as "the root of all capitalists evil." He had "Cleansings" took place to destroy everything that was left of the old society.
Norodom Sihanouk was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 to 2004. He had tried to keep Cambodia's neutrality, but the Khmer Rouge had waged a war against Cambodian government forces. To others he was seen as destroying Cambodia and making it corrupt because he favored the richer cities and not the poor. All the poorer citizens rebelled against him. Since it was already corrupt, when the Americans and Vietnamese invaded during the Vietnam War, Cambodia was falling apart. Then Lon Nol used this as an opportunity to take over. After Lon Nol had taken over, Sihanouk had actually joined the Khmer Rouge to help overthrow the now government so he could become ruler again.
Lon Nol had grown up poor and found Sihanouk's government unfair. He became a Cambodian Politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice. On March 18th 1970 Lon Nol had overthrown King Sihanouk. Then he took control of the government and set out to defeat the communists. Between 1970 and 1975, he and his army, along with U.S military support and aid, battled Khmer Rouge for control over Cambodia. U.S forces had departed South Vietnam in 1973. Both Cambodians and South Vietnamese fought the communists alone. Without U.S support, Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975.
Resources and Technology
The Khmer Rouge had used guerrilla warfare to invade Cambodia. They had many advances such as having tanks, gun and rocket supplies from China. They got almost all technologies from trading rice to China. The captures grew loads of rice in many places and the Khmer Rouge sent many loads to China in order to get weapons and items for warfare. Whenever the Youns (Vietnamese) would try to invade loads of rice were shipped out. Other than weapons as technology advances, the Khmer Rouge had not believed in any other sources of technology. They thought and technology advances or knowledge advances would break the belief of the communist country (having everyone equal).
People like Ken Svay use art as an outlet to try to forget the trauma that they had received. They used it to try to forget their past. They also would use their past experiences to reflect and draw.
How can the arts be used to tell the story of civil wars?
When people created art they would use it as an outlet and a way to tell what happened to them. They would make it to show the world of certain events that had occurred and to show certain perspectives on the war(soldier vs victim).
Unfortunately almost all artists and many works of art were destroyed and killed. They had lost many art that was created.
A Song For Cambodia by Michelle Lord
Written about a nine-year-old boy, Arn, who was taken away from his and forced to work in the fields. He was asked to play music for a living instead to please guards, the decision changed his life forever
This photo is one of thousands of the mugshot like photos taken of the Khmer Rouge’s victims. It is found in the Tuol Sleng Museum.
ARMS & ARMY
The Khmer Rouge had a clear advantage. First, the Lon Nol government took over the Sihanouk government. Because of this, the Americans/Vietnamese had already overthrown Lon Nol, and the new president of Cambodia. Prince Sihanouk was angered that he was overthrown and called to the Khmer Rouge to try to take out that government, bringing him back into office. In return, they tricked the Prince and overthrew him. The Vietnamese were unable to takeover Cambodia for 4 years. The Khmer Rouge was violent and used guerrilla warfare. They were stronger than many other armies because they had so many Cambodians trained for war. They also had much labor that contributed to rice production. The more rice produced, the more they were able to send to China to earn more weapons.
There were no allies in this war. The U.S had unintentionally contributed to the war by weakening Cambodia and making it easier for the Khmer Rouge to invade. The Khmer Rouge had worked alone, no other country had helped them invade Cambodia. Cambodia did not have anyone representing them or trying to free them of their suffering. Vietnam did overthrow the Khmer Rouge, but not because of the genocide, because of a border dispute. They wanted more land and invaded Cambodia to benefit themselves.
How do civil wars relate to problems in societies?
This Civil War relates to the problem of segregation in society. Segregation is the act of separating or judging people because they are different or not the same as others. In the Cambodian war those who were “city” people were frowned upon and looked at as if they were evil. People were killed for simply being educated or religious. Then there was a point in the war where anyone who seemed to be a threat to the government was killed.