Khmer Rouge Page

Khmer Rouge derives from the French word, Khmer + Rouge = Red Khmer, named by the former King Norodom Sihanouk, for the label of Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) in 1971. The organization was originally formed as the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea in January 1968. In 1981, it's later changed to Party of Democratic Kampuchea.

Flag of Democratic KampucheaKhmer Rouge seized power in 1975, and in 1976 Khmer Rouge established a new constitution with the new flag under offical name, Democratic Kampuchea. As one of the most violent regimes of the 20th century, the Khmer Rouge regime was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million people by execution, starvation and forced labor.

Known Name of Khmer Rouge:

Brief Background of Khmer Rouge:

Powered by the Vietnamese, the Cambodian communist movement was created to fight against French colonization during decade of 1940s.

In 1960, twenty one politicians formed Kampuchean (or Khmer) People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP). The Khmer Rouge, organized by Pol Pot in the Cambodian jungle in the 1960s, advocated a radical Communist revolution that would wipe out Western influences in Cambodia and set up a solely agrarian society. In 1970, aided by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, Khmer Rouge guerrillas began a large-scale insurgency against Cambodian government forces, soon gaining control of nearly a third of the country.

By 1973, secret U.S. bombings of Cambodian territory controlled by the Vietnamese Communists forced the Vietnamese out of the country, creating a power vacuum that was soon filled by Pol Pot's rapidly growing Khmer Rouge movement. In April 1975, the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, overthrew the pro-U.S. regime, and established a new government, the Kampuchean People's Republic.

As the new ruler of Cambodia, Pol Pot set about transforming the country into his vision of an agrarian utopia. The cities were evacuated, factories and schools were closed, and currency and private property was abolished. Anyone believed to be an intellectual, such as someone who spoke a foreign language, was immediately killed. Skilled workers were also killed, in addition to anyone caught in possession of eyeglasses, a wristwatch, or any other modern technology. In forced marches punctuated with atrocities from the Khmer Rouge, the millions who failed to escape Cambodia were herded onto rural collective farms.

Between 1975 and 1978, an estimated two million Cambodians died by execution, forced labor, and famine. In 1978, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh in early 1979. A moderate Communist government was established, and Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge retreated back into the jungle.

In 1985, Pol Pot officially retired but remained the effective head of the Khmer Rouge, which continued its guerrilla actions against the government in Phnom Penh. In 1997, however, he was put on trial by the organization after an internal power struggle ousted him from his leadership position. Sentenced to life imprisonment by a "people's tribunal," which critics derided as a show trial, Pol Pot later declared in an interview, "My conscience is clear." Much of the international community hoped that his captors would extradite him to stand trial for his crimes against humanity, but he died of apparently natural causes while under house arrest in 1998.

Source: | | (U.S. Library of Congress )

Anthem of Democratic Kampuchea:

Dap Prampi Mesa Chokchey [ដប់ប្រាំពីរ មេសា ជោគជ័យ] (English: Glorious Seventeenth of April)

The bright red blood was spilled over the towns
And over the plain of Kampuchea, our motherland,
The blood of our good workers and farmers and of
Our revolutionary combatants, of both men and women.

Their blood produced a great anger and the courage
To contend with heroism.
On the 17th of April, under the revolutionary banner,
Their blood freed us from the state of slavery.

Hurrah for the glorious 17th of April!
That wonderful victory had greater significance
Than the Angkor period!

We are uniting
To construct a Kampuchea with a new and better society,
Democratic, egalitarian and just.
We follow the road to a firmly-based Independence.

We absolutely guarantee to defend our motherland,
Our fine territory, our Magnificent revolution!

Hurrah for the new Kampuchea,
A splendid, democratic land of plenty!
We guarantee to raise aloft and wave the red banner of the revolution.
We shall make our motherland prosperous beyond all others,
Magnificent, wonderful!



Trial of Khmer Rouge

June 21, 1997, Cambodian Co-Prime Norodom Ranariddh and Co-Prime Minister Hun Sen requested United Nations assistance in organizing the process for the Khmer Rouge trials. UN Secretary established a group of experts to study the process and to present a completely international tribunal to the General Assembly and Security Council. In 2001, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was established and the Law was signed by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk.


In 1999, Kang Kek Iew known as Duch, former director of S-21 Tuol Sleng prison was arrested and charged with the 1994 Law to Outlaw the Democratic Kampuchea Group. Ta Mok, Khmer Rouge military leader was arrested and charged with violation of the 1994 Law to Outlaw the Democratic Kampuchea Group.




Salot Sar known as Pol Pot

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  • Original Name: Salot Sar, born in May 1925. He grew up in a well off farming family in Kompong Thong province (about 140 kilometers north of Phnom Penh).
  • 1931, moved to live with his brother in Phnom Penh. His brother was an official of Palace
  • 1946, joined Indochinese Communist Party to help oust French
  • 1949, received a scholarship to study radio-electricity in France
  • 1952, joined the French Communist Party, and later failed examination
  • 1953, returned to Cambodia and joined Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP)
  • 1954, taught history and geography in a private school in Phnom Penh while joined and worked for communist movement
  • 1956, married to Khieu Ponnary
  • 1960, helped with Paris's Student group to restructure KPRP and raname it, Workers' Party of Kampuchea (WPK)
  • 1963, become command of WPK
  • 1965, went to Hanoi and was approached to ousted the U.S. out of Indochinese
  • 1966, visited to China, and renamed his party to, Kampuchean Communist Party (KCP)
  • 1967, refuged to live in the northeast of Cambodia
  • 1968, his party established revolutionary army of Kampuchea
  • 1975, turned Cambodia to the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea
  • 1976, became Prime Minister and the official Cambodian head of state
  • 1977, visited to China to seek military assistance against Vietnam
  • 1979, fled by helicopter to Thailand after his regime was ousted by Vietnamese invasion
  • 1985, resigned from the Khmer Rouge military forces
  • 1997, was convinced that his minister for defence, Song Sen, was collaborating with the Hun Sen Government. Then, he was arrested by Ta Mok, commander of Khme Rouge 'Brother Number Five'. During his trail, he agreed to an interview with Nate Thayer, a journalist with the 'Far Eastern Economic Review'. He told Thayer, "First, I want to let you know that I came to join the revolution, not to kill the Cambodian people,... Look at me now. Do you think ... am I a violent person? No. So, as far as my conscience and my mission were concerned, there was no problem. This needs to be clarified... Whoever wishes to blame or attack me is entitled to do so. I regret I didn't have enough experience to totally control the movement. On the other hand, with our constant struggle, this had to be done together with others in the communist world to stop Kampuchea becoming Vietnamese... For the love of the nation and the people it was the right thing to do but in the course of our actions wemade mistakes."
  • 1998, died in the evening of 15 April, reportedly from heart failure






Ieng Sary

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  • Original name: Kim Trang
  • Revolutionary names: Sou Hav and Comrade Vann
  • Khmer Krom name: Penh
  • Born in 1930 in Tra Ninh province, Vietnam
  • His wife: Ieng Thirith
  • has three daughters and a son
  • 1960, taught history and geography at Kampuch Botr School 1
  • 1963, fled to join the force at a northeastern jungle in Kampong Cham 1
  • 1970, went to Vietnam to seek help from Vietnam 1
  • 1972, became the commander in chief of northeastern zone's military 1
  • 1973, worked in a secret office of the party in suburb of Hanoi, Vietname 1
  • 1975, became a member of the People’s Revolutionary Party and later in September, was a member of the central committee 1
  • 9 October 1975, in charge of foreign affairs of the party and the state 1
  • 30 March 1976, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, in charge of Foreign Affairs 1
  • 1996, surrendered to the government and was granted amnesty





Khieu Samphan

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[ Click picture to see more pictures of KHIEU SAMPHAN ]

  • born July 27, Kompong Cham Province (?)
  • 1959, finished his study of Economy in France
  • 1950 - 1960, an official for Sihanouk
  • 1962 - 1966; was elected to the National Assembly
  • 1967 - fled to join Communist Movement
  • 1976 - 1979, chairman of the state presidium of Cambodia
  • 1979, led a rebel government
  • 1981, held talk with Sahnouk in Pyongyang, North Korea
  • 1982, met Sihanouk in Beijing and maintained some international recognition
  • 1985, succeeded Pol Pot as leader of Democratic Kampuchean faction
  • 1987 - 1991, representatives of the Khmer Rouge for the 1991 Paris Peace Accords
  • 1998, surrendered to the Cambodian government






Nuon Chea

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  • Born in 1925, Battambang province
  • His Wife: Ly Kim Seng
  • Real name: Long Bunruot, also known as "Brother Number Two"
  • 1951: Joined the Indochinese Communist Party
  • Elected to Deputy General Secretary of the Communist Party
  • Become Pol Pot's most trusted lieutenant
  • December 1998: surrendered as last remnants of Khmer Rouge






Ta Mok

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  • Real name: Chhit Choeun
  • Born in 1926 – 21 July 2006
  • Born with Chinese-Khmer descent in Takeo province
  • Known as Brother Number 5
  • 1930: educated a buddhist monk at Pali
  • At age of 16: left from monkhood
  • 1940: joined resistants against French colonial rule and Japanese
  • 1960: Become general and the group's chief-of-staff
  • 1964: Joined anti-French Khmer Issarak
  • Late 1960: Member of the Standing Committee of the Khmer Rouge's Central Committee
  • Powerful man in south-west zone
  • Pol Pot named him as leader of the national army of Democratic Kampuchea
  • Lost the lower part of one leg





Cambodians Known to the World