Saloth Sar also known as Pol Pot, was leader of the communist movement known as the "Khmer Rouge”. He was the Prime Minister of Cambodia (renamed Democratic Kampuchea) from 1976 to 1979.During his time in power, the Khmer Rouge forced urban to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labour projects. The goal was to restart civilization in"Year Zero". The combined effects of slave labour, poor medical care and executions had an estimated death toll of between 750,000 and 1.7 million people. In 1979, he fled into the jungles of southwest Cambodia after an invasion by neighbouring Vietnam, which led to the collapse of the Khmer Rouge government. In 1979, Pol Pot was overthrown and imprisoned by other Khmer Rouge leaders. He died in 1998while held under house arrest by the Ta Mok faction of the Khmer Rouge. Since his death, rumours that he was poisoned have persisted.
A) His early life (1925-1961)
Saloth Sar was born in Prek Sbauv in Kampong Thom Province the 19th of May in 1925 to a moderately wealthy family. In 1935, he left Prek Sbauv to attend a Catholic school in Phnom Penh. In 1947, he gainedadmission to the exclusive Lycée Sisowath but was unsuccessful in his studies. After switching to a technical school at Russey Keo, in the north of Phnom Penh, he qualified for a scholarship that allowed for technical study in France. He studied in Paris from 1949 to 1953. In 1951, he joined a communist cell in a secret organization known as the Cercle Marxiste. A few months later, Saloth also joinedthe PCF (the French communist party).
As a result of failing his exams in three successive years, he was forced to return to Cambodia in January 1954. He was the first member of the group to return to Cambodia and was given the task of evaluating the various groups rebelling against the government. He recommended the Khmer Viet Minh, and in August 1954, Saloth travelled to the Viet Minh EasternZone headquarters in the village of Krabao in the Kompong Cham, the border area of Cambodia.
In 1954, the Cambodians at the Eastern Zone Headquarters split into two groups. Due to the Geneva peace accord of 1954 expelling all Viet Minh forces and insurgents, one group followed the Vietnamese back to Vietnam. The other group, including Saloth, returned to Cambodia.
After his return to Phnom Penh,Saloth became the liaison between the above-ground parties of the left and the underground communist movement.
The path to rebellion (1962-1968)
In January 1962, the government of Cambodia rounded up most of the leadership of the far-left party ahead of parliamentary elections due in June. The newspapers and other publications of the party were also closed. This event effectively endedany above-ground political role for the communist movement in Cambodia. In July 1962, the underground communist party secretary Tou Samouth was arrested and later killed. The arrests created a situation where Saloth could become the de facto deputy leader of the party. When Ton Samouth was murdered, Saloth became the acting leader of the communist party. At a party meeting attended by at mosteighteen people in 1963, he was elected Secretary of the central committee of the party. In March 1963, Saloth went into hiding after his name was published in a list of leftist suspects put together by the police. He fled to the Vietnamese border region and made contact with Vietnamese units fighting against South Vietnam.
In early 1964, Saloth convinced the Vietnamese to help the Cambodian Communistsset up their own base camp. The central committee of the party met later that year and issued a declaration calling for armed struggle. In the border camps, the ideology of the Khmer Rouge was gradually developed. The party, breaking with Marxism, declared rural peasant farmers to be the true working class proletarian and the lifeblood of the revolution. This is in some sense explained by the...