Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Killing Fields
- See The Killing Fields for the 1984 movie on this subject.
The Killing Fields were a number of sites in Cambodia where large-scale killings were carried out by the Khmer Rouge during their rule from 1975 to 1979. The best-known of these sites is Choeung Ek. If someone would commit something considered a crime by the Khmer Rouge, they would, depending on the seriousness of the crime, receive a warning from the Angkar (the Khmer Rouge Government). More than two warnings resulted in the convict being sent for re-education, which meant certain death. The executed were buried in mass graves. In order to save ammunition, the convicted were often executed using only sharpened bamboo sticks. The soldiers who committed the executions were mostly brainwashed young men from peasant families.
The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed anyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, Cambodian Christians and Muslims and the Buddhist monkhood were also targets of persecution.
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. A more accurate estimate of those killed in The Killing Fields is closer to 1 million executed by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot.
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