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The Khmer Rouge was a Communist organization which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge regime is remembered mainly for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, through execution, starvation and forced labor. Nevertheless, only three of the Khmer Rouge leaders have been imprisoned since their rule ended, one on unrelated charges.
In power, the Khmer Rouge carried out a radical program that included isolating the country from foreign influence, closing schools, hospitals and factories, abolishing banking, finance and currency, outlawing all religions, confiscating all private property and relocating people from urban areas to collective farms where forced labor was widespread. The purpose of this policy was to turn Cambodians into "new people" through agricultural labour. It resulted in massive deaths through executions, work exhaustion, and starvation. The Khmer Rouge attempted to turn Cambodia into a classless society by depopulating cities and forcing the urban population into agricultural communes. The entire population was forced to become farmers in labour camps. During their four years in power, the Khmer Rouge overworked and starved the population, at the same time executing selected groups (including intellectuals) and killing many others for even minor breaches of rules. They did not believe in western medicine but instead favoured traditional peasant medicine; many died as a result. Family relationships were also banned, and family members could be put to death for communicating with each other. The Khmer Rouge regime arrested, tortured and eventually executed anyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, professionals, intellectuals as well as ordinary Khmer people who breached their rules. Ethnic Vietnamese, Cambodian Christians, Muslims and the Buddhist monkhood were also targets of persecution. Examples of the killings and torture by the Khmer Rouge can be seen at S-21 (now Tuol Sleng Museum), operated by "Duch" (Khang Khek Leu), a high school turned prison camp. Some 200,000 people passed through this centre before taken to sites outside Phnom Penh such as Choeung Ek, where most were executed and buried in mass graves.
The exact number of people who died as a result of the Khmer Rouge's policies is debated. The Vietnamese-installed regime that succeeded the Khmer Rouge claimed that 3.3 million had died. The CIA estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were executed by the Khmer Rouge, but executions represented only a minority of the death toll, which mostly came from starvation. Amnesty International gives estimates of the total death toll as 1.4 million. R. J. Rummel, an analyst of historical political killings, gives a figure of 2 million. Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot gave a figure of 800,000.

*scanned image*

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