Cambodia: killing fields

Essay by DesignjeannieCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2004

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Because of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge not only were thousands of

Cambodians forced out of the cities and into the fields but the entire Kampuchean culture was nearly wiped out, these atrocities need to be brought to the world's attention so that they may never happen again.

On March 18th 1970 General Lon Nol systematically overthrew "the direct descendent of 80 kings" (Attwood 64), Prince Norodum Sihanouk. Although the "quintessential Khmer" (Return 47), Lon Nol, holds the place in history for this event it was not a single-handed act; in fact the coup de'tat was largely planned and executed by the CIA and Sirik Matak, the prince's cousin. Sirik Matak's motives stemmed from his deep resentment that neither his uncle, Prince Sisowath Monireth, nor himself were given the thrown when Cambodia gained its independence from France in 1953 (Sihanouk 21). Whereas Lon Nol was the prince's minister of defense, but did not agree with his policy of nationalism (Casella 306).

As early as September of 1969 Sirik Matak and Lon Nol were planning Prince Sihanouk's overthrow. Lon Nol had just been appointed as Prime Minister when the CIA sent word that if an overthrow were to take place the U.S. would offer full support (Sihanouk 42). From there the coup was in full effect; Sirik Matak and Lon Nol rallied troops and bid their time until the moment to strike. That moment came when the prince went to France for his annual treatment of a chronic health condition. He was to be gone for two months recovering and then to Moscow to meet with diplomats there. During that time Lon Nol and Sirik Matak staged demonstrations, captured and killed high-ranking officials, and threatened voters to vote against Sihanouk. By the time Sihanouk reached Moscow he was no...