Democratic Kampuchea

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Feb 24 2013


Category: Asia, Cambodia

1 Comment

or the invention of hell

Angkar, the mysterious name (meaning “the organisation”) behind which the Khmer Rouge government of Pol Pot hid itself, had changed the name of Cambodia into Democratic Kampuchea. During their four years of totalitarian rule, the population was forcefully ‘re-educated’ and indoctrinated by Angkar’s radical communist ideology. A collection of slogans and commands that were used to this end reveal, in a nutshell and in a most cynical way, the inhuman norms and values that Angkar propagated. Here is a small selection, in French, from the book by Henri Locard, Le “Petit Livre Rouge” de Pol Pot, ou Les Paroles de l’Angkar:

“Vive l’Angkar Révolutionnaire extrêmement sage et clairvoyante, et extrêmement glorieuse!”

“Frères enseignants, étudiants et tous les intellectuels, avancez-vous et montrez vos visages à l’Angkar!” (At best an invitation to re-education, but almost without exception an invitation to be killed.)

“Vous devez épier les moindres faits et gestes de chacun d’entre vous!” and “Tu dois rapporter discrètement tous les secrets à l’échelon supérieur!” and “Enfants, vous êtes enfants de l’Angkar: enfants, vous devez lui rapporter toutes les activités de vos parents!” (Everybody was encouraged to spy on everybody else and to denounce each other.)

“Renonce à tous tes biens personnels, à ton père, à ta mère et à toute ta famille.” (Families were pulled apart; men, women, boys and girls were placed in separate work squads in the countryside.)

“Vous devez avoir un amour sans limites pour l’Angkar!” and “Qui proteste est un ennemi, qui s’oppose est un cadavre!” (This is why an ominous silence reigned in Democratic Kampuchea.)

“Si quelqu’un se plaint d’avoir faim, on l’amènera là où on le gavera de nourriture” (Meaning that you would be killed and thrown into a burial pit where your dead body would have its mouth full of food in the form of earth and worms.)

“Les malades n’ont pas besoin de manger, parce que la maladie coupe l’appétit. La diète vous guérira.” (When one was too ill to work, the meagre ration was halved, often resulting in death from starvation.)

“La beauté physique est un obstacle à la volonté de lutte” and “Notre cœur ne nourrit ni sentiments, ni esprit de tolérance: nous aurons ainsi une position solide dans la lutte!”

“Camarades, vous avez tous les mêmes droits: camarades, vous portez des vêtements noirs, des chaussures noirs; l’Angkar est aussi habillée de noir.”

This is the language of remorseless repression, of unimaginable brutality, of utterly sickening and dangerous fanaticism. It was put into practice between 1975 and 1979 when Cambodia was converted into one huge concentration camp, called Democratic Kampuchea, where terror, hunger and death reigned.

Photo of the week: Panels with photographs of executed “enemies of Angkar” in former secret prison S-21, now Genocide Museum Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2000.

One comment on “Democratic Kampuchea”

  1. Haunting photo and commentary, Louk.


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