Taking a Stand: Cambodian Genocide
The Destruction of an entire race, though it seems impossible it has happened before, such an act is known as Genocide. All genocides have one thing in common: “The targeted group was identified based on the perpetrator's perception of reality, not on any sort of essential feature of the targeted group” (Levene). For Saloth Sar, the ideology of a purified Cambodia is what he thrives for. His ideals and “. . . ‘unique’ Khmer approach and stubborn self-reliance contributed to Cambodia’s problems” (Weltig 80-1). Cambodians, disregarding gender and age, were killed in very ill-mannered ways. Citizens were shot, hanged, beat, starved and worked to death. However, there was a lot more to it than the genocide in 1975-79. The revolt against the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian government was the point in time where everything starts to fall apart for the country. The widespread ideology of communism and genocides influenced Cambodia, later named Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). Cambodia went through years of incarceration, destruction, and communism that lead to the killings of more than two million people, thus repeating history.
Cambodia’s history was believed to go all the way back to the Angkor era. The Angkor Wat Period (800s-1400s) was an ancient kingdom that the Cambodians are very proud of. “During this time, Cambodians built massive irrigation works and canals to boost rice production and ease travel and shipping” (Weltig 14). The relationship with the Indians from trades introduced Cambodians to Hinduism, which led to the practice of Hindu religion. However, the Angkor Period did not last long because of the strive for power among royals. “Greedy god-kings bankrupted the kingdom with extravagant construction project” (Weltig 14). After the fall of the Angkor Period, over a hundred years later, Thailand and Vietnam seized control of Cambodia and took claim of their territories. Because Vietnam was their ancient rival, Cambodia possess a sense of distrust and resentment toward the country and its people. “By the early 1860s, Thailand and Vietnam had claimed authority over all Cambodia” (Weltig 15). Cambodia had lost all their sovereignty and have no other way to fight back. In order to regain Cambodia’s independence, King Norodom decided to make the country a French protectorate in 1863 (Weltig 15). Norodom gave up his foreign policy decisions to France in exchange for Cambodia’s safety. Because of the French protectorate, the French influence grew as the years pass.
The French presence was believed to be a mixed blessing. The French restored the Angkor Wat territory in order to preserve the culture and heritage. “By 1880s, the French were imposing ever-increasing taxes . . . used some of this money to modernize Phnom Penh and support Cambodia’s traditional Buddhist schools” (Weltig 15). Cambodia lived under the French in peace until the late 1930s, when Cambodian elites in Phnom Penh, the capital city of...