Pol Pot

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Pol Pot,

1925–98, Cambodian political leader, originally named Saloth Sar. Paris-educated, and a Khmer Communist leader from 1960, he led Khmer RougeKhmer Rouge
, name given to native Cambodian Communists. Khmer Rouge soldiers, aided by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, began a large-scale insurgency against government forces in 1970, quickly gaining control over more than two thirds of the country.
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 guerrillas against the government of Lon NolLon Nol
, 1913–85, Cambodian general and political leader. He became defense minister and army chief of staff in 1955 in Norodom Sihanouk's government. He served as premier (1966–67) under Sihanouk.
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 after 1970. In 1975 he proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea and served as its premier (1976–79). The systematic murder of members of various groups; the complete destruction of individual rights; forced labor, disease, and starvation in Cambodia's "killing fields"; the transformation of a developing country into a xenophobic agrarian society; and other horrors that can be ascribed to the cruelty or ineptitude of Pol Pot made him one of the most infamous leaders in modern history. Some 1.5 million out of a total population of about 7 million died during his rule, which ended with an invasion by the Vietnamese in late 1979. Although he retired officially in 1985, Pol Pot continued to control his guerrillas, the strongest antigovernment force, in western jungle areas of Cambodia until factional collapse shortly before his death.

Bibliography

See biographies by D. Chandler (1992, rev. ed. 1999) and P. Short (2005); study by B. Kiernan (2d ed. 2002).

Pol Pot

original name Kompong Thom. 1925--98, Cambodian Communist statesman; prime minister of Kampuchea (1976; 1977--79); his policies led to the deaths of thousands in labour camps before he was overthrown by Vietnamese forces; in 1997 his former supporters in the Khmer Rouge captured him and claimed to have tried and sentenced him to life imprisonment