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The Khmer Rouge Regime

Under Sihanouk and Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge set up a collectively organized economy dominated by terror. This involved evacuating people from cities to huge agrarian farms, abolishing the finance sector, eliminating private property, sealing borders and outlawing all religions. Besides that they introduced a catastrophic system of social "purification" of the Khmer race. This genocid required the extermination of all educated classes and political opposition. 
Human life had no value under the Khmer Rouge regime and their motto was: "To kill you is no loss, to keep you is no gain." As a result, an estimated 1.7 million people, possibly a lot more, were murdered or died of starvation, disease, or torture between 1975 and 1979.

After painful years for the Cambodian society, Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, ended the Khmer Rouge's Democratic Kampuchea, and replaced it with the new People's Republic of Kampuchea under Heng Samrin. The Vietnamese withdrew in 1989, leaving the State of Cambodia. In 1991 the factions of Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge and their supporters China and Thailand agreed to an UN freedom program. But also with the influence of the UN the instable situation between the Khmer Rouge, members of Shinouk and the government continued. Pol Pot died in April 1998 which marked the end of the Khmer Rouge's power.


Now, after decades of trauma, the country is beginning a long healing process and the country can look forward to a promising and stable future. But for thousands of people the traumatic pain of the terror years remains because they miss the lost family members and friends. Two generations of Cambodians have lived through this thirty years of terror. While it is difficult for the old people to remember the history it is impossible for the young generation. They have to refresh the destroyed cambodian society. A way to do this is to confrontate them with the roots of their culture. An unseparable and important symbol of Cambodian culture, history and identity is the Ankor Wat. Built under Surayavarman during the beginning of 12th century the temple was dedicated to God Vishnu and the God king Jayavarman ll. Angkor means something like capital or King city and stands for the prime of the Khmer- culture beetween 800 and the mid of the 15th century. The ruins of the beautiful sacral temple of Angkor are after the horrible time a site for the re-remember and re-consciousness. The monuments stands for continuity, perpentuance and for the silence which surrounded the document during all times. The silence of Angkor Wat remains unbroken.

But also the silence about the tormentors of the cambodian people is unbroken. For almost three decades the Cambodian people have lived side by side with their tormentors who remained free. So "many victims have, in fact, expressed a desire to forgive their tormentors and move on with their lives." (Khavan Sok) 

This evil situation of silence over the cruel history should not continue. What remains is the hope that the Cambodians are able to digest their latest history.


Referencesand further links:

Khavan Sok Documenting the Truth, 2003, The Khmer Institute

Wikipedia Encyclopedia, 2005

Silence-Remained 2005-2011