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On This Day… The Khmer Rouge Seize Phnom Penh

Written by: George Chittenden : 17 Apr 2019

It was on this day, 17th April, back in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge seized the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. The surrender of the Khmer Republic to the Khmer Rouge was, the first time a capital city had fallen to Communist forces since the early 1950s. the Khmer Rouge’s political leader Pol Pot led Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. During that time, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians died of starvation, execution, disease or overwork.

Khmer Rouge troops in Phnom Penh.

Khmer Rouge troops in Phnom Penh.

On seizing the capital city Pol Pot abolished money, emptied the city of its inhabitants, forcibly relocating them to grow rice in the countryside. The Khmer Rouge believed that agriculture was the key to nation-building and planned on becoming a self-sufficient state. Marxist-Leninists unhappy with Pol Pot's government encouraged Vietnamese intervention. In 1978, the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, toppling Pol Pot's government in 1979. The Khmer Rouge’s period of control is referred to as the Cambodian genocide. Shockingly Pol Pot was never prosecuted for war crimes and died at the age of seventy-two in 1998.

Khmer Rouge soldier threatening shopkeepers to abandon their stores.

Khmer Rouge soldier threatening shopkeepers to abandon their stores.

Are you already curious to discover what happened tomorrow? Have a great day.

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