PP… Cambodia.

12 Dec

December 1, 2010

I wanted to share a different view of Cambodia thru the eyes of my tour guide in Phnon Pheom, Cambodia. Chet is 40ish. And, endured Pol Pot’s reign of terror.

By accident, I taped our conversation when I asked him a zillion questions about Mr. P. Pot.  The next thing I know he is telling me in detail about his brother being brutally murdered and his sister starving to death…and almost being blown up by land mines…

Cambodia’s wounds are fresh. Open.  And, sore.  They don’t like scratching the open sore.  In fact, it’s hard to get people to go into detail about “what happened” in the 70’s and 80’s.  I was blessed for Chet said, “ask me anything…and I tell you all.”

The blog below is Chet’s version of how Pol Pot came to power, not Wikipedias.  The next blog gives detail about his family trying to escape the terror of the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot’s political party).


Let me tell you about Pol Pot.

He was poor. His sister was a dancer. The king noticed his sister and wanted her to live at the Royal Palace. Pol Pot’s family moved to the palace. Pol Pot was young. He saw many things. Many bad things.

His sister was forced to have sex with the king. His sister very young. Sister forced to dance naked for the king. And, king’s friends. His sister not happy. Pol Pot became angry. He saw the King and his friends were very happy. Had a lot of food. Always laughing. In the countryside, people were starving.  Not happy. Countryside people were dying everyday. Struggle everyday. Not the king.  Pol Pot became more angry.

Pol Pot compared life of the people to life of the palace. He saw unfairness. He grew up thinking he must kill all capitalist. Kill all civil servants.  All friends of the King.  He read a lot. Wanted to learn more. He got a scholarship to Cambodia university in 1949. Then, he got scholarship to study in Paris. Remember, France was occupier.  He learned French. Learned about communism. He joined the French communist party with his friend, Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) .  They studied Lenin, Mao, Tito…

French sent Pol Pot back home ten months before Cambodia claims independence from France. He works with Cambodia govt to kick out French. Pol Pot becomes a high school teacher, teaching French and Math. He joins the IndoChina Communist Party (Cambodia’s Communist Party) led by Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi called Pol Pot is brother number one. Younger brother. They best friends. Everyone knows it.

In 1961, Ho Chi assigns Pol Pot to be a spy for Cambodia.  To spy on Cambodia govt and King.  Pol Pot becomes leader of Communist Party of Cambodia. Ho Chi still communist leader of all V-nam, Cambodia and Laos — He in charge of IndoChina Communist Party.  Pol Pot works for Ho Chi. Everyone in Cambodia calls Pol Pot, “Brother Number One.” Ho Chi gives him $400,000 in weapons. Not enough to take over country, yet.

At this time, Pol Pot’s followers were the intellectuals who studied with him in Paris. Now these people are in government – ruling party. Pol Pot told them, “Don’t use the government $$ in wrong way. Put $$ to good use. Help the poor. Help the people…” They did not listen. King Sihanouck found out Pol Pot had supporters in government, and he threw them all in jail.  King started kill Pol Pot’s people too.

King Sihanouck was in bad place. Ho Chi ask King and King said yes to allow Viet Cong troops go inside Cambodia.  Viet Cong use Cambodia for safety and to kill S. Vietnamese near Saigon.  King said “yes” for he certain S. Vietnam would loose civil war.  And, certain America would leave.  Certain communist win.  King want be on side of winner.

More bombs come to Cambodia during Vietnam War because more Viet Cong fighting in Southern Cambodia, near border.   Now, King wanted Viet Cong out.  Too many bombs.  No longer trust Ho Chi.

King ask Americans to help throw out Viet Cong and Ho Chi people.  Cambodia People mad that Vietnamese in Cambodia. Cambodia has long history of hating and fighting with Vietnamese.  We no like them.  Our people went to streets. Protesting. Fighting. Want America and Vietnam out.  King scared.  He fled country to live in Moscow in 1970.

Coup happens, since King gone.  General Lon Nol new leader. Americans like him. He puppet for Americans.

Pol Pot happy.  Cambodians hate American puppet more than Vietnamese.  See General as another occupier.  Tired of being occupied.  Pol Pot knows this.

Pol Pot calls King.  He tells King to tell Cambodia people to go with his party, Khmer Rouge. If King tell people, people listen.   If King does this, then he can come home to rule country.   King cared about getting new General out of power.  King agreed to Pol Pot.   King and King party (Royalists) now part of Khmer Rouge.  Together, they kick out the  General.

Royalist soldiers (ruling party of King) joined Khmer Rouge.   KR said all soldiers get amnesty. Broken promise. All  Royal soldiers killed. Viet Cong stays in S. Cambodia. Ho Chi tells Pol Pot if Viet Cong stays, then Pol Pot can have Saigon. It was a “thank you.”  Ho Chi lied to Pol Pot.

After General overthrown, people feel better. No more fighting. On April 17, 1975, Khmer Rouge drive into Phnon Phem, capital. People hold white flags outside door. Surrender. They are very happy General is gone. Americans are gone. Cambodia is free. Independent from occupier. Now by ourselves. Can rule ourselves. See Pol Pot as good. He is friends with King.

Pol Pot went on TV. Said, “Brother, Sister, Grandparents…civil servants, military….ask you move to suburb. Leave city. Americans may bomb city. I want to protect you…Only for three days. Don’t take much. Be back after America leaves…Everyone must leave city in three hours… Walk on streets to leave…safer… ”

All a lie. America not bomb the city. Pol Pot used America.  And, War in Vietnam to throw people out of homes.  After three days, Pol Pot back on TV with new message, “You need to walk to countryside… Can’t move home… After 15 days, you can move anywhere in countryside…Learn to farm…”

This was 1975. No one moved back to capital city until 1979.

Khmer Rouge had check points in route to country side. Wanted to know who was a capitalist…civil servant…military. Said they wanted these people to work in new government.  To help.

All lie. They sent people to prison. Four prisons. Used high schools as prisons. Tortured them. Made them talk and tell on friends.  Pol Pot thinks can’t control smart people. Can’t control capitalist.  So, kill them.  Easy to control poor people.  And farmers.  Have nothing already.


Our people in countryside tell many bad things. People take breast milk from dead mothers for drink. Starvation. Have baby is very sad for family.  People no want babies.  Can’t feed babies.  They think dying is good.  Much better than life here.  Next life is much better…

Pol Pot closed all borders.  Khmer Rouge military put in mines so no one can leave Cambodia.  Or, Vietnamese can’t come in. KR kill all foreigners.  Journalists.  Tourists.  Anyone walking on roads and not farmer, taken to prison and killed.

Prison first, then Killing Fields.  They say over 300 Killing Fields in Cambodia.  Bullets too expensive.  People dig own grave.  Big grave.  Line people up.  Bash over head with sticks.  Or stab them.  Or, put acid on them.  Or, poison with gas.  Or, tortured them. After, they throw in grave.  Bury people alive too when lazy.

Children killed too.  Soldiers grabbed feet of children and hit them on tree until skulls broke.  Then, threw in big hole.

Changed high schools into prisons.  Tortured people — men, women and children.  Made them talk.  If not, then more torture.  Starvation.  If not die in prison, then go to Killing Fields.  Only way to leave prison is to die.

I have friend — nurse – who worked at a prison.  She’s ok now.  But, tells of bad stories.  Had no choice.  Had to work for KR or die.  She force to marry a solider.  KR tell people who to marry to help their race.  Force you to have babies too.  She still married.  Has her own babies. Life is better now.

After KR killed all capitalist, then killed all middle class. After killed all middle class, Pol Pot started killing his own military.

When kill his own military at Killing Fields, then many soldiers fled to Vietnam. Vietnam not happy. Former Khmer Soldiers and Vietnam troops come to Cambodia and took over. They send Pol Pot away in 1978/1979. Vietnam occupies Cambodia for 10 years.  Until 1989/1990.


People say Pol Pot killed to keep power, build new people and build a better race. He wanted everyone to be farmer to grow rice.   Grow rice for China.  He saw Cambodia as poor and only way to become rich is to grow rice.  Be farmer.  We only ate few spoons of porridge a day. We skinny. Very skinny people. Fat is good for Cambodia — even today.

Now, our people start over. Need to study. Our Prime Minister today never finish high school.  No schools back then.  Only farmer.  Our people need to study very hard. Khmer Rouge killed the capitalist.  Killed smart people.  Killed civil servants. I think killed more than 2 million.  I think killed many more– many more living in jungle and small villages.  And, killed many babies.  Babies with no record of birth because people scared.  Many more killed than UN says…

KR still here today.  Many still follow KR teaches.  Very poor.  Live in jungle.  Makes me mad.  Government fault.  Need to build more schools.  More teachers.  Need to educate its people of right ways, not wrong ways.  I get mad at poor people for not sending kids to school.  Only chance for Cambodia is education.  Our people are good people.  We must be better people.  One day… I have hope…

Pictures help tell Chet’s story..

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