In 1975 the Khmer Rouge had won the violent civil war and took over power in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge was led by Pol Pot. He was educated in France and had a deep admiration for Chinese communism. He and his party thought that intellectuals could be a threat to communism and needed to be eliminated. The Cambodian genocide started with the Exodus. All people were forced to leave their cities. Those that were too slow or those who refused to leave were murdered. Pol Pot wanted to turn Cambodia into an organization of farms, and the citizens were to be laborers. All civil rights and liberties were immediately taken away. Factories, schools and hospitals were shut down and intellectuals were a threat to the regime. Lawyers and doctors as well as teachers and those in the army were killed. Extended family members of these people were often killed as well.
During the Khmer Rouge regime temples were destroyed and thousands of monks lost their lives. People were forced to become workers and the lack of food, rest and long days of tough work were the reasons why many people perished. People were held in camps under harsh conditions. And internally many Khmer Rouge members were murdered for betrayal. The Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia on the 25th December 1978and ended the reign of terror imposed by the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot hid in the west during fights that continued for twenty years. He was put in prison in 1997 and died in 1998. More than two million people had been killed during this episode of genocide in Cambodia.
This reign of terror has left the Cambodian people scarred. Monks had to rebuild their temples and find new places for their worship were possible. Slowly the nation became used to having back their rights again and woke up to a time in which it was possible to lead a normal life again. New businesses were established and the country is now a great place to visit. The people of Cambodia are welcoming and the true Cambodian spirit can be found in the open and friendly gestures of its people in the villages. After a horrendous experience during the cold war it is astounding that a nation was able to fight back and find back its resilience. Visit the amazing temples and landscapes of Cambodia to see what has survived the terrible ordeal during the time of the Khmer Rouge.