What was the ideology of the Khmer Rouge? Why did the mass killings happen and how?
In general, the main ideology of Khmer Rouge regime undoubtedly came from the most extremist parts of “Mao Tse-tung’s thoughts”, as it was practiced and strongly consolidated during the “Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries” , the “Great Leap Forward” movement , the “People’s Commune” and the disastrous “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” in China.With this answer below, today I will try to clarify the basis of mass killings in Cambodia under the leadership of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge’s “comrades”.I. AN ORWELLIAN STATEGeorge Orwell, a famous English novelist in 20th century, had described in his famous work 1984 about an Utopian state, where ruled a Big Brother and his Party machine with the notorious “revolutionary” slogans as follows:“WAR IS PEACEFREEDOM IS SLAVERYIGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” Many people used to believed it is just a fictional state with a fictional leader and also a fictional motto. Surprisingly, no one expected that only 25 years since Orwell had passed away (1950), a similar regime in reality was established on the land of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge regime , as its name was called by Pol Pot himself, ruthlessly bathed the whole country of Cambodia with the bloods of 2.0 millions innocent people. From 1975 to 1979, around 25% of the Cambodian population were “eliminated” . Many of them were beaten to death at Killing Fields across the country, or perished at the notorious Tuol Sleng S-21 prison in Phnom Penh by tortures and executions. The ethnic minorities groups such as the Chams, the Vietnamese and Chinese in Cambodia also suffered the same fates of total annihilation. Moreover, Khmer Rouge’s army also waged a bloody border war against Vietnam, in which the notorious Ba Chuc Massacre was happened with at least 3,157 Vietnamese civilians lost their lives on April 1978 .Figure 1: Mugshots of Khmer Rouge’s victims at the former Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, nowadays became a Genocide Museum Meanwhile, at the first time in human history, an Utopian society was successfully built up in Cambodia, without schools, without money, without hospitals and especially without the intelligentsia as a class?II. THE ROOTS OF EVILSpecifically, from 1966 to 1976 with the rise of Marshal Lin Piao (林彪) and the “Gang of Four”  as the most ardent Maoist followers, China came into one of the darkest era in 20th century with the destruction of classes and the society in general. Ten millions of people lost their lives or were wrongly persecuted as the “reactionaries” during the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, while the “barrack socialism” was partially built-up. On the other hand, the Chinese intelligentsia had frequently become the subject of repression even ten years before the start of Cultural Revolution.Figure 2: Original caption: Mao Zedong with Khmer Rouge leaders Pol Pot (middle) and Ieng Sary in June 1975 in Beijing, China (Khmer Rouge leaders have admitted inspiration from the Chinese cultural revolution). (Photo by API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) On the second session of the VIII Chinese Communist Party Congress (May 1958), President Mao Tse-tung proudly reported his “achievements” of the “counter-revolutionaries campaign” by comparing the number of “buried” intellectuals to what the Emperor Qin Shi-huang obtained in the past:“What did he amount to? He only buried alive 460 scholars, while we buried 46,000. In our suppression of the counter-revolutionaries, did we not kill some counter-revolutionary intellectuals? I once debated with the democratic people: You accuse us of acting like Ch’in-shih-huang, but you are wrong; we surpass him 100 times. You berate us for imitating Ch’in-shih-huang in enforcing dictatorship. We admit them all. What is regrettable is that you did not say enough. We have had to say it for you.” “Comrade Pol Pot” , the supreme leader of Khmer Rouge regime as he was called by official Chinese media, extensively studied and “creatively applied” what the Maoists did in China to the actual situation of Cambodia. On 29 September 1977, during his state visit to China, Pol Pot explained his thoughts to the People’s Daily as follows:“We have creatively and successfully applied Mao Tse-tung’s thoughts to the realities of Kampuchea. With our bare hands from the start, we won victory on April 17, 1975” Consequently, the whole Cambodian intelligentsia was successfully “liquidated” during fierce “class struggle” of Khmer Rouge regime. Their achievements were even far better than what were obtained by the Chinese Maoists. As it was clearly described by Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission:“By 1979, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, anywhere from a fifth to a third of the Cambodian population had been murdered by the Khmer Rouge, the vast majority of survivors of the genocide were traumatized and functionally illiterate, and the region was in shambles.” III. NO ONE IS FORGOTTEN, NOTHING IS FORGOTTENConsequently, the meanings of “slavery” had turned out to be “freedom”, the “ignorance” had became the national “strength” of Khmer Rouge regime, before it was only overthrew in 1979 by the Vietnamese intervention.Without the Maoist ideology, without the helps of Chinese advisers in Cambodia, without the supply of foods and weapons from China , it would be extremely difficult for Khmer Rouge faction to gain their victory in 1975 as well as conducting the bloody war against Vietnam during the next 4 years (1975–1979).Time flies like arrows. Today is 11 January 2021 and it has been 40 years since the liberation of Phnom Penh by Vietnamese and Cambodian revolutionary forces. The notorious leaders of Khmer Rouge such as Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea were charged with genocidal crimes by the International Court . Furthermore, the liberation role of Vietnamese soldiers during the war against the Khmer Rouge regime were officially recognized by Cambodian government.Figure 3: Original caption: The parade at the ceremony marking 40th anniversary of the victory over the genocidal regime in Phnom Penh on January 7. ‡ VNA/VNS Photo Figure 4: Original caption: A delegation of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces pays tribute to the volunteer Vietnamese soldiers at the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Monument in Phnom Penh (Photo: VNA) On the other hand, the Maoist China as an important factor during the genocide in Cambodia was rarely mentioned in media and books. However, as the famous Russian poem mentioned: “No one is forgotten, nothing is forgotten”. Their historical roles must be judged someday, at least by the Historical Truths and the Tribunal of Conscience?Footnotes Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries - Wikipedia Great Leap Forward - Wikipedia People's commune - Wikipedia Cultural Revolution - Wikipedia Nineteen Eighty-Four - Wikipedia Nineteen Eighty-Four Khmer Rouge - Wikipedia Cambodian genocide - Wikipedia Khmer Rouge Killing Fields - Wikipedia Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - Wikipedia MEANWHILE : When the Khmer Rouge came to kill in Vietnam The quiet keeper of Cambodia’s memories Lin Biao - Wikipedia Gang of Four - Wikipedia Mao Zedong with Khmer Rouge leaders Pol Pot and Ieng Sary in June... Speeches At The Second Session Pol Pot - Wikipedia Genocide in Cambodia Genocide in Cambodia The China connection: new book reveals Khmer Rouge relationship Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide in Cambodia’s ‘Nuremberg‡ moment Cambodia celebrates 40th anniversary of victory over genocidal regime Vietnam’s volunteer soldiers commemorated in Cambodia