The Khmer Rouge

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 September, 2010, 12:00am

Under the Marxist leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge began in the 1960s as the armed wing of the Cambodian communist party. Khmer Rouge is French for 'Red Khmer'; the Khmer people are the largest ethnic group in Cambodia, and red is traditionally associated with communism.

After a five-year civil war, their forces finally took over the capital, Phnom Penh, and the nation, in 1975.

During his time spent living in the remote jungle and mountains, Pol Pot was influenced by the simple lives led by the surrounding hill tribes. To return the country to 'Year Zero', Pol Pot cut off links to the rest of the world. He abolished money, private property and religion. Anyone thought to be an intellectual of any sort was killed. People were condemned for wearing glasses or knowing a foreign language. Hundreds of thousands of the educated middle classes were tortured and executed.