Pol Pot


Pol Pot
orig. Saloth Sar

born May 19, 1925/28, Kompong Thom province, Cambodia
died April 15, 1998, near Anlong Veng

Prime minister of Cambodia.

He joined the anti-French resistance under Ho Chi Minh in the 1940s and became a member of the Cambodian Communist Party in 1946. After studying radio technology in Paris, he returned to Cambodia in 1953 and taught French until he fell under police suspicion in 1963. For the next 12 years he built up the Communist Party. U.S. anticommunist activity in Cambodia in the early 1970s, including helping to depose Norodom Sihanouk and a bombing campaign in the countryside, drove many to join him. In 1975 his Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh, which he ordered entirely evacuated. Even the sick were wheeled out in hospital beds, and in the first weeks it is estimated that tens of thousands died. The ruthlessness with which he pursued his intention to return to "year zero" and create an ethnically pure, agrarian, communist state resulted in the deaths of one to two million people. Overthrown by the Vietnamese in 1979, he led an anti-Vietnamese guerrilla war until he was repudiated by the Khmer Rouge and sentenced to life imprisonment (1997); he died the next year.

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▪ 1999

      Cambodian political leader and dictator (b. May 1925, Kompong Thom province, Cambodia—d. April 15, 1998, near the Cambodia-Thailand border), was responsible, during a four-year reign of terror, for the deaths of 1.7 million people, nearly one-quarter of his nation's population, through starvation, torture, execution, and hard labour. Born Saloth Sar to landowning farmers, he was sent at age six to Phnom Penh to be educated at a Buddhist monastery and later at a Roman Catholic primary school. In the late 1940s and early '50s, he studied radio technology in Paris on a government scholarship, and it was there that he became involved in communist activities. While teaching in a private school in the mid-1950s and early '60s, he secretly formed the Khmer Workers' Party to resist Cambodia's ruler, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, and he disappeared into the jungle in 1963, where he adapted the charismatic revolutionary persona known variously as Pol Pot and Brother Number One. He spent the next years training his Khmer Rouge guerrillas; they first clashed with the Cambodian army and police in 1968. Capitalizing on the U.S. bombing of Cambodia and Sihanouk's shifting loyalties, he led the Khmer Rouge—an army of 70,000—into Phnom Penh in 1975 and took control of the country. Ordering the city's entire population of two million to evacuate, he attempted to create an agrarian utopia without money or property; instead, he initiated Cambodia's destruction by abolishing schools, religion, and family life and murdering those he deemed a threat—the educated, artists, technicians, former government officials, monks, and minorities. From 1975 to 1979 the newly renamed Democratic Kampuchea remained isolated from the world until his government was overthrown by the Vietnamese. Once again in hiding, he renounced communism and convinced the U.S. and other countries that his exiled government should retain political recognition; the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia's UN seat until two decades of civil war were ended in the early 1990s by a UN-mediated peace accord and elections. Although he was not seen by outsiders for almost 20 years, he remained the guiding force of the Khmer Rouge until June 1997, when he was arrested by former Khmer associates, found guilty of treason during a show trial in July, and placed under house arrest. In the two weeks preceding his death, the Cambodian Government Army was closing in on his jungle retreat with plans to bring him before an international tribunal for crimes against humanity. Some were doubtful that Pol Pot was dead, whereas others harboured suspicions that he was killed to prevent his capture and a trial that could have implicated many others, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, for their actions in Cambodia's notorious killing fields.

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▪ Cambodian political leader
original name  Saloth Sar 
born May 19, 1925, Kompong Thom province, Cambodia
died April 15, 1998, near Anlong Veng, along the Cambodia-Thailand border
 Khmer political leader whose totalitarian regime (1975–79) imposed severe hardships on the Cambodian people. His radical communist government forced the mass evacuations of cities, killed or displaced millions of people, and left a legacy of brutality and impoverishment.

      The son of a landowning farmer, Saloth Sar was sent at age 5 or 6 to live with an older brother in Phnom Penh, where he was educated. A mediocre student, he failed the entrance examinations for high school and so instead studied carpentry for a year at a technical school in Phnom Penh. In 1949 he went to Paris on a scholarship to study radio electronics. There he became involved with the French Communist Party and joined a group of young left-wing Cambodian nationalists who later became his fellow leaders in the Khmer Rouge. In France he spent more time on revolutionary activities than on his studies. His scholarship was cut short after he failed examinations, and he returned to Phnom Penh in 1953.

      Pol Pot taught at a private school in Phnom Penh from 1956 to 1963, when he left the capital because his communist ties were suspected by the police. By 1963 he had adopted his revolutionary pseudonym, Pol Pot. He spent the next 12 years building up the Communist Party that had been organized in Cambodia in 1960, and he served as the party's secretary. An opponent of the Norodom Sihanouk government and of the military government of General Lon Nol, he led the Khmer Rouge guerrilla forces in their overthrow of Lon Nol's regime in 1975. Pol Pot was prime minister of the new Khmer Rouge government from 1976 until he was overthrown by invading Vietnamese in January 1979. It is estimated that from 1975 to 1979, under the leadership of Pol Pot, the government caused the deaths of more than one million people from forced labour, starvation, disease, torture, or execution while carrying out a program of radical social and agricultural reforms.

      Following the Vietnamese invasion of his country, Pol Pot withdrew to bases in Thailand to lead the Khmer Rouge forces against the new Hanoi-supported government in Phnom Penh, which refused to consider peace negotiations as long as he remained at the head of the party. Although ostensibly removed from the military and political leadership of the Khmer Rouge in 1985, he remained a guiding force in the organization, which continued its guerrilla campaign into the 1990s, though with diminishing intensity. By 1997 the Khmer Rouge were in deep decline, their ranks riddled by desertions and factionalism. In June of that year Pol Pot was forcibly ousted from the organization's leadership and placed under house arrest by his colleagues, and in July he was convicted of treason. Pol Pot died of natural causes in 1998.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Pol-Pot — Büste Pol Pots im Tuol Sleng Museum Pol Pot (eigentlicher Name Saloth Sar, * vermutlich 19. Mai 1928[1] in der Provinz Kompong Thom, Kambodscha; † 15. April 1998 in Ânlóng Vêng) war ein kambodschanischer Politiker …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pol Pot — Büste Pol Pots im Tuol Sleng Genozid Museum Pol Pot (* vermutlich 19. Mai 1928[1] in der Provinz Kompong Thom, Kambodscha; † 15. April 1998 in Anlong Veng; eigentlich Saloth Sar) war ein kambodschanischer …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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