translation by Bun Sou Sour
Documentation Center of Cambodia
Social Study [Text Book]
Ministry of Education Youth and Sports of
the Royal Government of Cambodia
Social Study [Text Book]
Lesson 12, Page
169 (Grade 9)
Ministry of Education Youth and Sports of the Royal Government
Funded by UNFPA and UNESCO
From April 25 to
April 27, 1975, the Khmer Rouge leaders held a special general assembly in order
to form a new Constitution and renamed the country "Democratic Kampuchea". A new
government of the DK, led by Pol Pot, came into existence, following which the
massacre of Khmer citizens began.
Social Study [Text Book]
Lesson 4 (Grade 12)
of Education Youth and Sports of the Royal Government of Cambodia
Cambodia in the 1980s and in the
After Prince Norodom
Sihanouk was removed from his position as head of state by Field Marshal Lon
Nol, Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak and In Tam, most of the country was in a state
of extreme unrest.
1.The Khmer Republic
Field Marshal Lon Nol,
in strengthening and extending his power, declared Cambodia to be a Republic,
declared a state of emergency, and initiated certain security measures including
the recruiting military forces.
In Phnom Penh, in
accordance with the principles of multi-party liberal democracy, the Khmer
Republic formed three political parties: the Republic Party, the Democratic
Party, and the Social Republic Party led by Lon Nol himself.
On October 9 1970, the
national radio announced that the country would henceforth be a Republic, and
that associated governmental institutions had been formed. In March 1972, Lon
Nol dissolved the National Assembly and the government, and declared himself as
the President of the Khmer Republic. On April 30 1972, in Phnom Penh, a new
Constitution was drafted and preparations made to hold a referendum. The
Republicans determined that they would improve society with the support of the
people by conforming to the principles of human rights and leading the country
toward political and social democracy, thereby creating happiness and harmony,
and eradicating oppression, intimidation, and lack of forgiveness. In addition,
the Republicans opposed the monarchy and would never again tolerate its
existence. Their goal was to defend sovereignty, independence, and national
consensus in conjunction with the stated motto of freedom, equality, fraternity,
development, and happiness.
1.1. Bitterness of the 1970-1975 War
The Republic regime of
Field Marshal Lon Nol was unable to maintain political and economic stability.
It was a regime riddled with corruption, surviving only through massive
assistance from the United States in all fields. On the face of it, the regime
could only control administrative affairs in about one-third of the country,
including Phnom Penh and other major cities. The fighting which raged between
its forces and those of the communists resulted in a massive influx of refugees
into the cities. With conditions deteriorating by the month, the city dwellers
lived a hand-to-mouth existence. The price of basic commodities such as rice and
oil skyrocketed. Rates of inflation, unemployment, and corruption multiplied. It
was a society in crisis.
In March of 1970, at
Vonsai in Rattanakiri Province, the National United Front of Kampuchea (NUFK)
and National Liberation Armed Forces of Kampuchea (NLAFK) were formed. The Royal
Government of National Union of Cambodia was created on May 4 of that year. The
main political program of NUFK focussed on destroying the United States backed
Lon Nol regime and unifying the country under its authority.
On March 24 1970, the
nominal leader of the NUFK, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, called for the masses to
join his movement. From April 1970 to the end of 1974, the NUFK controlled
Kampuchea Liberation Armed Forces launched attacks on strategic positions, cut
off the Mekong River waterway for use in transportation of food supplies to
Phnom Penh, and attacked rice stocks in Battambang. Lon Nol forces were steadily
forced to retreat. Roads linking the provinces to Phnom Penh were cut off. Near
the end, the only remaining mode of transportation was by air.
Beginning in January
1975, the National Liberation Armed Forces of Kampuchea opened their attack on
On April 12 1975,
United States military helicopters were ordered to evacuate U.S. ambassador John
Gunther Dean, military advisors, 82 U.S. embassy staff members, 159 Republic of
Kampuchea officials, and the acting president So Kam Khoy. Those Khmer Republic
high officials who declined the offer of evacuation, including Prince Sisowath
Sirik Matak, were executed shortly after Khmer Rouge forces took Phnom
On the morning of
April 17 1975, the National Liberation Armed Forces of Kampuchea began their
offensive attacks on Phnom Penh. At 9: 30 a.m. the NLAFK shook each other's
hands in the middle of the capital city. The whole city was liberated in five
years and a month. NLAFK received a total success over the Khmer Republic
1.2. Consequences of the 1970-1975 War
The supporters of the
U.S.-backed Khmer Republic sacrificed their lives in an effort to defend the
regime and Cambodia’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, all
of which had been repeatedly violated by the Vietcong, the North Vietnamese
Army, and the communist Khmer Rouge, the latter with the support of the People's
Republic of China. Conversely, in liberated areas of the countryside, many Khmer
citizens from among the majority of poor people sacrificed their lives by
joining the NLAFK to free the country from what they perceived to be U.S.
imperialists and their allies.
The Civil War lasted
for five years and one month, and the fighting entailed large casualties and
destruction. More than one million people from both sides were killed or
injured. Many of the survivors became prisoners living without food or shelter;
large numbers old people and children died of starvation. Four-fifths of
industrial factories were destroyed; two-thirds of the rubber plantations were
damaged; about 70 to 80 percent of roads and railroads were out of operation;
ports and ferry docks were ruined, and 80 to 90 percent of public buildings,
populated areas, and educational institutions suffered major damage.
2. Democratic Kampuchea
On April 17, 1975,
Phnom Penh dwellers happily celebrated a the end of the war and looked forward
hopefully to peace. These hopes were quickly dashed as the NLAFK showed arrogant
behavior and used military power to force everyone to abandon their homes.
At that time, a
significant number of innocent people were battered and killed, while sick
people died premature deaths along the way. All people in Phnom Penh, whether
native city dwellers or refugees who had fled the fighting in the provinces,
were treated as prisoners of war. They evacuated city dwellers to live in groups
in the countryside, and used them as forced labor in cooperatives.
In the Third National
General Assembly and its formal declaration on January 5, 1976, the Khmer Rouge
leaders congratulated Cambodians, especially workers and peasants, for their
participation in the national and people’s liberation war, and for sacrificing
their lives, their properties, and their love for their children and spouses for
the cause of military service without hesitation. Moreover, the general assembly
also noted the invaluable help of the three categories of the Kampuchean
Revolutionary Army (front line troops, regional troops and guerillas), who
fought bravely to save the nation, and built a neutral, non-aligned, democratic
country with its own territorial integrity. Thus we could live in a joyful
society, in true justice and in democracy having neither the rich nor the poor
and neither oppressors nor oppressed classes. It was a society in which people
lived in harmony. Yet, in another special general assembly held on April
25-26-27 1975, the Khmer Rouge leaders worked on a draft constitution that
consisted of 16 chapters and 21 articles later enacted on April 2 1976. Prince
Norodom Sihanouk resigned from his post as the head of state. Samdech Pen Nut
was also forced to resign from his position as first premier. On April 11 1976,
the People's Representative Assembly declared the dissolution of the Royal
Government of National Union of Cambodia and formed a new government. Nuon Chea
was appointed as president of the People's Representative Assembly. Khieu
Samphan became state presidium. Pol Pot acted as the First Prime Minister. Ieng
Sary succeeded to the position of Deputy Prime Minister in charge of foreign
Kampuchea was a complete institution, which had government, national assembly,
and constitution, but the average citizens became slaves of Angkar.
3. Economy and Population of the Democratic
had a slogan stating: "Once you have rice, you have everything". With this idea
in mind, the government forced the people to grow rice in the
products achieved under the management of old governments, the DK completely
destroyed factories, enterprises, and transportation facilities. In the
commercial sector, they eliminated the use of money and markets. The national
administration of education and culture, once progressive areas, were also
entirely changed. Schools were transformed into ammunition warehouses, animal
stables, detention offices, and other equipment stores. Pagodas—sacred places of
worship for Cambodians since ancient times—were demolished. Monks were forced
out of the priesthood. Shrines and other places that served religious beliefs
were prohibited. Music, art performance, traditional dance, and opera were all
absolutely banned. Women had to wear black clothes and cut their hair short. Men
and women were forced into marriage by just holding hands with their supposed
lovers, contradictory to the national, traditional ways.
DK created new
collective concepts in favor of worker and peasant classes, according to which
everyone was required to sleep, to eat, and to work communally. Family members
were separated and assigned to live and work in their respective groups. Parents
had no authority over their children, since all people were perceived as
children of the Angkar. Therefore,
men, women, young and old people had to work for the sake of the Angkar. Anyone who was against the Angkar would be destroyed immediately.
During three years, eight months and twenty days, the DK acted as a draconian
state, and executed their own countrymen callously.
This regime had more
than three millions innocent people killed. Few were the families that escaped
the wrath of Angkar and its genocidal
acts. In short, the DK plunged the entire country into a real catastrophe in
only three years, eight months, and twenty days.
Social Study [Text Book]
Lesson 5 (Grade 12)
of Education Youth and Sports of the Royal Government of Cambodia
People's Republic of Kampuchea
Pol Pot's regime was
an unforgettable tragedy for the Cambodian people and one of the most barbarous
periods in the history of mankind. On January 7, 1979, the Cambodian people were
freed from this genocidal regime.
1. Forming the United Front for the
National Salvation of Kampuchea (UFNSK)
United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea
Under Pol Pot's regime
Cambodia became hell. A significant number of Cambodian people were killed,
starved and worked to death, and forced to live with inadequate medical care,
clothing, and shelter. Even innocent babies were brutalized and
In January 1976, Hou
Nim, then Minister of Information of the Royal Government of National Union of
Cambodia (RGNUC), began to fight against Pol Pot. In March 1976, people at
Chamkar Luong and Siem Reap Province urged the DK government to improve their
standards of living and to enable them to live together with their families. In
early January 1977, the residents of Northern Siem Reap and Battambang stood up
and formed an anti-Pol Pot movement, which was followed by several movements
with similar characteristics organized by inhabitants in Kampong Thom,
Mondulkiri, Kampong Chhnang, and Chamkar Luong.
provoked a catastrophic reaction by the Angkar. Since April 30, 1977, Pol Pot
had begun to massacre Khmer people in various districts inside country, such as
districts in Southwestern, Southern, and Western regions. Surprisingly, the
bigger the slaughter, the greater and sharper the movements became, as evidenced
by events in Tbong Khmum (Kampong Cham), Siem Pang (Stung Treng), Bar Keo
(Rattanakiri). In the Western Zone, an insurrection led by Heng Samrin, a former
commander of Division 4, broke out. The insurgents dispersed leaflets persuading
Cambodian people all over the country to consolidate to overthrow the ferocious
Pol Pot regime, and to take part in rebuilding Cambodia into a country with
independence, peace, freedom, and happiness.
A general assembly
representing revolutionary forces of all regions throughout the country, under
the leadership of communists, was held on December 2, 1978 for the purpose of
the revolution. The assembly, at the time, agreed in unanimity to form a United
Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea (UFNSK), and organized an election
to choose members of the Central Committee of the Front, chaired by Heng Samrin
and consisting of fourteen members.
The Assembly passed
political programs of the Front, which were the line and obligation of the
revolution, as follows: respect the willingness and the aims of the people;
overthrow the murderous Pol Pot clique; and bring about peace, independence,
democracy, neutrality, and prosperity.
organization, the forces of the United Front for the National Salvation of
Kampuchea (UFNSK) grew ever greater both inside and outside of the country,
which was a sharp contrast to the shrinking power of the genocidal Pol Pot
1.2. The Victory of January 7,
In 1978, Vietnam faced
severe floods, which destroyed its agricultural products. Seizing this
opportunity, Pol Pot deployed nineteen divisions along Kampuchea-Vietnam border.
In the meantime, China had also stopped giving aid to Vietnam. As a result,
Vietnam faced serious economic crisis and fell into a dangerous situation.
Simultaneously, China attacked along the northern border of Vietnam.
On December 23, 1978,
Pol Pot's troops reached Tay Ninh Province and captured many other regions. As
revenge, Vietnamese soldiers smashed three regiments of the Pol Pot army.
Motivated by this victory, Vietnamese soldiers invaded Cambodia. In just a short
period, Pol Pot henchmen were seriously defeated, making the situation in
Kampuchea chaotic. At the same time, on December 26, 1978, the front called for
the Kampuchean people and Revolutionary Armed Forces to stand up and topple Pol
With the assistance of
the Vietnamese Army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Kampuchea stood up,
rebelled, destroyed Pol Pot’s forces and liberated territories as well as
people. From December 30, 1978, UFNSK liberated many towns, including Lumpat
(Kratie) on December 30 1978; Veun Sai (Tunle Beth) on December 30 1978; Svay
Rieng on January 3 1978; and Stung Treng on January 4 1978.
On January 5 and 6,
1979, the Revolutionary Armed Forces took over Neak Loeung and the provincial
town of Kampong Cham. The third General Assembly was held from January 5 to 8,
1979 with the participation of 66 communists. The Assembly passed a program for
the purposes of complete salvation and liberation. On January 7, 1979, the Front
forces attacked Phnom Penh from all directions and liberated the capital city at
12:30 p.m. The Front also freed Takeo and Kampong Som on January 7, 1979;
Kampong Chhnang on January 11; Battambang on January 13; and finally Pursat and
Koh Kong from 14 to 17 January.
In only three weeks,
the Front forces in cooperation with Vietnamese Army liberated most of the
country from the genocidal Pol Pot regime.
2. Khmer Social Situation during
After the liberation
day, January 7 1979, Kampuchean people were freed from the genocidal Pol Pot
Regime. Most of them returned to their hometowns. Those who had lived in the
cities went back to the cities. But many fled to refugee camps along the Thai
border supported by the UN.
Upon their return,
people reunited with their siblings and parents. Unluckily, some people lost one
or several of their relatives, while others lost their entire families. Most of
the returnees were widows and old people. Materially, they had no cows,
ox-carts, plows, and harrows to cultivate their rice fields-only their bare
hands. There were many people who were so poor they had no rice to eat. They
worked as servants or small merchants along Thai and Vietnamese borders.
2.1. Formation of Solidarity Group of
This group assisted
widows, orphans, and elderly people, since these people did not have enough
tools to farm. In each village, villagers were divided into groups, each
comprised of ten families. The number of members in each group varied according
to the number of survivors in each family. The most important pulling power lay
in cows and buffaloes left over by the Pol Pot regime. People used these few
remaining animals to plow and to transport foods and other agricultural
In total, there were
90,000 to 95,000 solidarity groups countrywide, which made up 95 percent of the
rural population. In harvest season, the agricultural products were divided
according to labor force of each person—strong labor, average labor (teenagers,
cows and buffaloes), and weak labor (old people, and children). In provinces
which covered wide areas of farmland, each group could farm their own field of
1,500 to 2,000 square meters for family consumption.
From 1980, some people
began to leave their hometowns to more populated areas and markets, in order to
earn their living by trading daily products. Some had two occupations at the
same time—farming and subsidiary business. Others preferred to resume whatever
occupation they had in the old regime, but most did whatever they could to feed
their families. The Solidarity Group of Production was ended in 1987, when the
authority in villages, communes, and districts launched a new land policy—
measuring and distributing land to families and levying taxes in the form of
rice, which varied according to the productivity of each geographical region.
2.2 Central State Power (Government) and
In People's Republic
of Kampuchea, the important ministerial positions were taken by veterans, such
as the revolutionists from the Eastern Zone, especially those from Kampong Cham,
Svay Rieng, and people who had been educated in Vietnam after the 1954 Geneva
Conference. These two categories of office holders held the positions of
ministers and had responsibilities in important governmental institutions, like
Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, or Provincial/Municipal Revolutionary
People Committees. Later on, due to the country's stable situation, educated
people or former staff of Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Popular Socialist Community) and
Lon Nol administration, such as engineers, local and overseas students,
professors, and technical workers, were either motivated or targeted for the
preceding positions. The most significant figures in the government at that time
were Hun Sen, Chea Sim, and Heng Samrin—the revolutionists whose origins lay in
the worker and peasant classes, and who led the revolutionary movement in
Vietnam in 1977, and liberated Kampuchea from Pol Pot's regime.
who worked in various provinces as well as school teachers were in receipt of
financial support from 100 to 254 riel a month. Each family member received 10
riel a month with extra rations of rice, milk, soap, biscuits, canned foods,
cooking oil and petroleum.
2.3. Government's Key
In PRK there were four
Revolutionary People’s Party led by Secretary General Pen Sovan, a former
Isarrak Khmer who had studied communist principles in North Vietnam in 1954.
In December 1981, his position was transferred to Heng Samrin on the grounds
that Pen Sovan was a party traitor. The party had its offices in all
municipalities and provincial towns. The selection for party membership or
Core Group was carried out with careful inspection, particularly on
biographies. It took several months before any candidate received a
The Council of
Revolutionary People or Council of Ministers comprised of 17 ministers. The
Head of the Council was Pen Sovan, who remained in this position until 1981.
After that, Chan Sy (a former Isarrak Khmer educated in Hanoi) replaced Sovan.
The council played a prominent role in achieving the party’s goals. The
meetings of the Council were scheduled to show the administration measures to
the ministers, so that they could, in turn, spread the information to various
ministries and departments to avoid any errors contradictory to the principles
set forth. In each meeting, the representatives of every ministry had to
report their achievements and any problems arising within their ministries.
The most important ministries included Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of
Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of
Culture, and Ministry of Information. Less important ministries were Ministry
of Social Affairs, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of
Transportation. They were not vital, because these ministries lacked financial
and human resources. The Ministry of Planning was founded in 1981 in order to
organize national economic restoration program.
Council of State
was led by Heng Samrin. This council’s responsibility was to pass judgement on
the state’s legal aspects ranging from management of the criminal code and
amendment of the law on capital punishment.
an election in May 1981, National Assembly consisted of 117 members. Its first
meeting was held in June 1981 with a view to choosing the National Assembly's
president, ministers, and Council of State.
On April 29-30 1989,
the assembly held an extraordinary meeting in order to verify the constitution
and to change the name of "People's Republic of Kampuchea" to "State of
Cambodia". The National Flag and National Anthem were also changed. This was the
historical turning point of Cambodia when we had eliminated capital punishment
and reintroduce Buddhism as a national religion. The law on Personal Ownership
and Free Market Orientation was passed. The Constitution stated that Cambodia
was a neutral and non-aligned state. Moreover, the policy of the party and the
State of Cambodia became to negotiate with the other three factions, which were
struggling along the Cambodian-Thai border.
Cambodia's economy was
based chiefly on subsistence agriculture. Ninety per cent of the citizens were
peasants. Rice is the staple food for the whole population. In 1988, the rice
production increased to 2,700,000 tons and in 1990, to 3,000,000 tons, or 350 kg
of rice per capita.
According the fifth
General Assembly, the government took three measures to enhance food production:
increase the coverage of agricultural land; increase growing cycles; and
intensification of crops. Beside rice, there were many other crops, such as food
crops and industrial crops. The surplus of these crops was exported.
Table of Rice,
Rubber, and Fishing Output
Year Fishing T/year
Rubber T/year Rice T/year
1979 N/A N/A 265,220
1980 20,000 1300 1, 715,
1981 51,600 4,000 1,489,610
1982 68,714 7,000 1,989,200
1984 65,126 13,400 1,258,250
1985 67,577 17,640
1986 73,621 24,500 2,086,080
1987 74,154 25,000
1988 77,393 32,000 2,700,000
were the state's main source of exports. The old plantations were reestablished
in a short time, with many new trees planted since 1985. The plantations in
Rattanakiri, Kampong Som, Kampong Cham, and Kratie had not yet been transferred
to provincial governance. Hence, those plantations were neglected. However, in
1985 the government decided to hand them over to provincial authorities for
maintenance and commercial purposes.
Lumber exports sharply
increased and became one of the most important sectors among the four targeted
for national economic improvement. But illegal deforestation by private
companies and some powerful individuals eventually led to a critical depletion
of Cambodia’s forests.
Since the liberation
day (January 7 1979), fishing in both fresh and sea waters has developed
remarkably, and has helped increase the living standard of many people. However,
in this sector too, poor management and practices such as illegal fishing in
spawning season, the use of electrocution and hand grenades for killing fish,
the destruction of flooded forests vital to fish spawning, and the taking of
baby fish, have led to serious depletion of the resource.
4. National Unity
After being liberated
from the genocidal regime, Cambodian people were expected to live in harmony. As
a matter of fact, their sorrow was only slightly relieved, for Pol Pot, Ieng
Sary, Khieu Samphan and their cohorts had escaped to the jungles and continued
to cause insecurity among the people and society. They robbed the people of
animals, rice, and other belongings.
With the combined
support of the United Nations, the United States of America, China, Thailand,
and others, the guerillas regained much of their strength and were able to tie
up the new government and the Vietnamese army. Confronting this circumstance,
the government decided to cut down forested areas occupied by its enemies in
order to make it more difficult for them to hide. Unfortunately, that was a big
setback, for our workers had lost too many lives. In contrast, the guerillas
formed a front, led by King Norodom Sihanouk, which was progressively gaining
popularity. In addition, the UN granted a seat for the guerilla group, while
China and the United States conspired to isolate the new government and its
Vietnamese backers from ASEAN.
However, in 1984, both
China and the United States were forced to enter a negotiation with the USSR—the
summit-negotiation of the two super powers scheduled to take place in Geneva in
1985. Although the relationship between the U.S and USSR did not solve major
disagreements, it had significant political effects to the world and Cambodia as
well. Since then, political situation in Cambodia had remarkably improved. As
seen in November 1984, Western European countries, specifically France, planned
to meet with Sihanouk and representatives of PRK. Unfortunately, planed meeting
was called off as rejected by China and KR.
By 1985, the political
situation in Southeast Asia offered a new opportunity for peace negotiations
involving Cambodia. Therefore, all Vietnamese troops had to withdraw from
Cambodia in five years. The final time-limit would be 1990.
During the 1987 summit
between top U.S. and USSR leaders on the elimination of medium range missiles
showed that the political situation in Cambodia was getting better. Western
European nations insisted that the tripartite Cambodian government and Vietnam
to come to a negotiation under the conditions of withdrawal of Vietnamese troops
from Cambodia before the UN's intervention. In 1987, Prince Sihanouk proclaimed
his resignation in the face of strong opposition from China, Thailand, Pol Pot,
and Son Sann.
reconciliation policy and request for peace proposed by the PRK was passed in
August and October 1987 to resolve political discord in Cambodia between the
government and Prince Norodom Sihanouk and other anti-government factions. On
July 29, 1987, the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs traveled to Vietnam
seeking a formulation for a meeting among Cambodia’s conflicting parties. Based
on the plan, there were two phases: 1) a meeting among the confronting
opponents; 2) All Khmer sides and all countries concerned would assemble to
solve political problems in Cambodia. The first meeting was between Prince
Norodom Sihanouk and Hun Sen on December 4 1987 in France. They reached a first,
historic agreement and resolution, and began to putting an end to the fighting
In a summit on
December 14-15 1987, ASEAN nations congratulated Prince Norodom Sihanouk and Hun
Sen on their meeting.
On January 21-22 1988,
the second phase of the meeting was held in France. The meeting agreed to
abolish the groups headed by Son Sann and the Khmer Rouge. Prince Norodom
Sihanouk canceled the third meeting scheduled to take place in April 1988 in
Pyongyang and the fourth meeting to be held in November 1988 in New
For the sole purpose
of unification and reconciliation, Cambodian government consented to all
proposals made by Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
Eventually, on October
23 1991, the peace negotiation between the two sides in Paris brought about a
satisfactory result. The Khmer envoys of two sides shook hands and agreed to
carry out a general election under the supervision of the soon to be established
UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in