Thirty years ago today, Pol Pot was deposed by the Vietnamese, ending one of the most murderous regimes the world has ever seen. He and his Communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas had taken control of Cambodia in 1975. Inspired by Chairman Mao, they drove millions of people – some still in their hospital beds – out of its cities into the country.
“Bourgeois” professionals like lawyers, doctors and teachers were killed along with their families. Even wearing glasses was enough to put your life in danger. In addition to those deliberately murdered, thousands of others died from the hardships and hunger of Pol Pot’s labour camps so that by the time he was driven from power, 1.75 million out of a population of 8 million were dead.
As Israel today continued its bombing and bombardment of Gaza for a twelfth day, it is interesting to note the key role played by the US bombing of Cambodia from 1969 onwards in bringing Pol Pot to power. One Khmer Rouge leader remarked: “Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and then their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge.” Assaults designed to destroy resistance often have the opposite effect.