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Pol Pot definitions

Merriam Webster's

biographical name 1925-1998 originally Saloth Sar Cambodian leader

Britannica Concise

Prime minister of Cambodia (1975-79). Born in a small village, Pol Pot attended trade school. In 1949 he went to France to study radio technology, where he met Ho Chi Minh and became a member of the Cambodian Communist Party. He returned to Cambodia in 1953 and taught French until he fell under police suspicion in 1963. He spent the next 12 years building up the Communist Party. U.S. anticommunist activity in Cambodia, incl. the toppling of Norodom Sihanouk and a bombing campaign in the countryside, drove many to join him. In 1975 his Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh, which he ordered entirely evacuated. Even the sick were wheeled out in hospital beds, and in the first weeks it is estimated that tens of thousands died. The ruthlessness with which he pursued his intention to return to "year zero" and create an ethnically pure, agrarian, communist state resulted in as many as 2 million deaths. Overthrown by the Vietnamese in 1979, he led an anti-Vietnamese guerrilla war until he was repudiated by the Khmer Rouge and sentenced to life imprisonment (1997); he died the next year.



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