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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Important people in Kampuchea recent history

Cambodia, or the Kingdom of Cambodia, is strategically located between a number of countries with factional and often opposing cultures. China is to the North East, Vietnam is to the East and Thailand is to the West.

Cambodia has been ruled by many cultures and each culture has left it's inevitable mark. The temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is an example of how cultures have brought great prosperity to Cambodia.

There were dark days as well. As always the US, or more to the point the CIA, caused havoc with short sighted foreign policies based on very conservative values about the possible threat of communism. America's unproven manipulation of the fragile state of Cambodia during the Nixon years  quickly created a power vacuum in the region that led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge. This is a simplification of a huge chess game that played out in the region.

The Khmer Rouge was not, or did not start out as an evil organisation. It was a grass roots movement that saw what the Americans were doing first hand by unproven an coup and as history teaches us, when a section of the populous is marginalized a revolt will inevitably follow. The Khmer Rouge, initially, wanted no more than the perfect social state. Men can be treacherous though and soon the the social order could only be sustained by a systematic removal of any kind of opposition to the party.  This became a hunt to protect the power of  leadership and is known as the killing fields.

As chains of command were broken orders were taken at face value and not questioned at the risk of reprisal and swift local justice. Perhaps this was never effectively relayed up the chain of command or more probable, the chain of command just turned a blind eye.

Here are some key players I have put together for my own study while reading "Brother Enemy"

Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981

Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping was a politician and reformist leader of the Communist Party of China who led China towards a market economy.

Han Nianlong  

Vice-foreign minister china

Heng Samrin

Heng Samrin is a Cambodian politician. He was the chairman of the People's Republic of Kampuchea and the State of Cambodia, and later vice chairman and chairman of the National Assembly of Cambodia since 2006. Wikipedia

Born: May 25, 1934 (age 78)
Party: Cambodian People's Party

Hoang Tung

Veteran journalist Hoang Tung, former member of the Viet Nam Communist Party Central Committee and editor-in-chief of Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper, passed away in Hanoi on June 29 at the age of 91.

Richard Holbrooke

Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke was an American diplomat, magazine editor, author, professor, Peace Corps official, and investment banker.

Hua Guofeng

Su Zhu, better known by the nom de guerre Hua Guofeng, was Mao Zedong's designated successor as the paramount leader of the Communist Party of China and the People's Republic of China

Huang Hua 

Foreign Minister China

Ieng Sary

Ieng Sary was a powerful figure in the Khmer Rouge. He was the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1975 to 1979 and held several senior positions in the Khmer Rouge until his defection to the government in 1996.

Khieu Samphan

Khieu Samphan was the president of the state presidium of Democratic Kampuchea from 1976 until 1979

Kriangsak Chomanan

General Kriangsak Chomanan served as prime minister of Thailand from 1977 to 1980. A professional soldier, Kriangsak fought against the French in the Franco-Thai War, and against the communists in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Lǐ Xiānniàn

Li Xiannian was President of the People's Republic of China between 1983 and 1988 and then Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference until his death.

Lê Duẩn

Lê Duẩn was a Vietnamese communist politician. He rose in the party hierarchy in the late 1950s, and was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam at the 3rd

Le Duc Tho

Lê Đức Thọ, born Phan Đình Khải in Ha Nam province, was a Vietnamese revolutionary, general, diplomat, and politician. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1973, but he declined it

Đồng chí Lê Thanh Nghị

Vice President and Secretary General of the State Council

Nguyễn Cơ Thạch

Nguyễn Cơ Thạch was a Vietnamese revolutionary, diplomat, and politician. He was Foreign Minister of Vietnam from February 1980 to July 1991. Thạch was seen as pragmatic and influential

Phan Hien

Vietnam minister

Phạm Văn Đồng

Phạm Văn Đồng was an associate of Hồ Chí Minh. He served as prime minister of North Vietnam from 1955 through 1976, and was prime minister of a unified Vietnam from 1976 until he retired in 1987 under the rule of Lê Duẩn and Nguyễn Văn Linh.

Saloth Sar

Pol Pot, born Saloth Sar, was a Cambodian Maoist revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge from 1963 until his death in 1998. From 1963 to 1981, he served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea

Norodom Sihanouk

Norodom Sihanouk was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 to 2004. He was the effective ruler of Cambodia from 1953 to 1970.

Lon Nol

Marshal Lon Nol was a Cambodian politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice, as well as serving repeatedly as Defense Minister.

Ta Mok

Ta Mok, which means "Grandfather Mok" in Khmer, was the nom de guerre of Chhit Choeun, a senior figure in the leadership of the Khmer Rouge.

Ieng Thirith

Ieng Thirith was an influential figure in the Khmer Rouge, but was neither a member of the Khmer Rouge Standing Committee nor of the Central Committee. Her original name is Khieu Thirith

Hun Sen

Hun Sen is the Prime Minister of Cambodia and leader of the Cambodian People's Party, which has governed Cambodia since the Vietnamese-backed overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979

Nayan Chanda

Nayan Chanda is a former correspondent and editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and co-author of numerous books on Asian politics, security and foreign policy issues. He is best known for his seminal book, Brother Enemy: The War after the War.

A brief history (copied)

An attempt by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country's population from starvation, overwork and executions.

Pol Pot was born in 1925 (as Saloth Sar) into a farming family in central Cambodia, which was then part of French Indochina. In 1949, at age 20, he traveled to Paris on a scholarship to study radio electronics but became absorbed in Marxism and neglected his studies. He lost his scholarship and returned to Cambodia in 1953 and joined the underground Communist movement. The following year, Cambodia achieved full independence from France and was then ruled by a royal monarchy.

By 1962, Pol Pot had become leader of the Cambodian Communist Party and was forced to flee into the jungle to escape the wrath of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia. In the jungle, Pol Pot formed an armed resistance movement that became known as the Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodians) and waged a guerrilla war against Sihanouk's government.

In 1970, Prince Sihanouk was ousted, not by Pol Pot, but due to a U.S.-backed right-wing military coup. An embittered Sihanouk retaliated by joining with Pol Pot, his former enemy, in opposing Cambodia's new military government. That same year, the U.S. invaded Cambodia to expel the North Vietnamese from their border encampments, but instead drove them deeper into Cambodia where they allied themselves with the Khmer Rouge.

From 1969 until 1973, the U.S. intermittently bombed North Vietnamese sanctuaries in eastern Cambodia, killing up to 150,000 Cambodian peasants. As a result, peasants fled the countryside by the hundreds of thousands and settled in Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh.

All of these events resulted in economic and military destabilization in Cambodia and a surge of popular support for Pol Pot.

By 1975, the U.S. had withdrawn its troops from Vietnam. Cambodia's government, plagued by corruption and incompetence, also lost its American military support. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army, consisting of teenage peasant guerrillas, marched into Phnom Penh and on April 17 effectively seized control of Cambodia.

Once in power, Pol Pot began a radical experiment to create an agrarian utopia inspired in part by Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution which he had witnessed first-hand during a visit to Communist China.
Mao's "Great Leap Forward" economic program included forced evacuations of Chinese cities and the purging of "class enemies." Pol Pot would now attempt his own "Super Great Leap Forward" in Cambodia, which he renamed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea.
He began by declaring, "This is Year Zero," and that society was about to be "purified." Capitalism, Western culture, city life, religion, and all foreign influences were to be extinguished in favor of an extreme form of peasant Communism.

All foreigners were thus expelled, embassies closed, and any foreign economic or medical assistance was refused. The use of foreign languages was banned. Newspapers and television stations were shut down, radios and bicycles confiscated, and mail and telephone usage curtailed. Money was forbidden.

All businesses were shuttered, religion banned, education halted, health care eliminated, and parental authority revoked. Thus Cambodia was sealed off from the outside world.

All of Cambodia's cities were then forcibly evacuated. At Phnom Penh, two million inhabitants were evacuated on foot into the countryside at gunpoint. As many as 20,000 died along the way.
Millions of Cambodians accustomed to city life were now forced into slave labor in Pol Pot's "killing fields" where they soon began dying from overwork, malnutrition and disease, on a diet of one tin of rice (180 grams) per person every two days.

Workdays in the fields began around 4 a.m. and lasted until 10 p.m., with only two rest periods allowed during the 18 hour day, all under the armed supervision of young Khmer Rouge soldiers eager to kill anyone for the slightest infraction. Starving people were forbidden to eat the fruits and rice they were harvesting. After the rice crop was harvested, Khmer Rouge trucks would arrive and confiscate the entire crop.

Ten to fifteen families lived together with a chairman at the head of each group. All work decisions were made by the armed supervisors with no participation from the workers who were told, "Whether you live or die is not of great significance." Every tenth day was a day of rest. There were also three days off during the Khmer New Year festival.

Throughout Cambodia, deadly purges were conducted to eliminate remnants of the "old society" - the educated, the wealthy, Buddhist monks, police, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and former government officials. Ex-soldiers were killed along with their wives and children. Anyone suspected of disloyalty to Pol Pot, including eventually many Khmer Rouge leaders, was shot or bludgeoned with an ax. "What is rotten must be removed," a Khmer Rouge slogan proclaimed.
In the villages, unsupervised gatherings of more than two persons were forbidden. Young people were taken from their parents and placed in communals. They were later married in collective ceremonies involving hundreds of often-unwilling couples.

Up to 20,000 persons were tortured into giving false confessions at Tuol Sleng, a school in Phnom Penh which had been converted into a jail. Elsewhere, suspects were often shot on the spot before any questioning.

Ethnic groups were attacked including the three largest minorities; the Vietnamese, Chinese, and Cham Muslims, along with twenty other smaller groups. Fifty percent of the estimated 425,000 Chinese living in Cambodia in 1975 perished. Khmer Rouge also forced Muslims to eat pork and shot those who refused.

On December 25, 1978, Vietnam launched a full-scale invasion of Cambodia seeking to end Khmer Rouge border attacks. On January 7, 1979, Phnom Penh fell and Pol Pot was deposed. The Vietnamese then installed a puppet government consisting of Khmer Rouge defectors.

Pol Pot retreated into Thailand with the remnants of his Khmer Rouge army and began a guerrilla war against a succession of Cambodian governments lasting over the next 17 years. After a series of internal power struggles in the 1990s, he finally lost control of the Khmer Rouge. In April 1998, 73-year-old Pol
Pot died of an apparent heart attack following his arrest, before he could be brought to trial by an
international tribunal for the events of 1975-79.


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I have traveled far and wide and lived in South Africa, the UK and Malaysia. 

I am a technical person that never forgets anything. Recalling it at the right time though is a struggle.

I have always worked with IBM technologies and worked for them for many years. I now do my best to migrate people away from IBM technologies.


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