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Video:Profile of Pol Pot

with Christina Hartman

Interested in learning about former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot? Watch this About.com video to see information about his life.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Pol Pot

Hi I'm Christina Hartman for About.com, and this video is an overview of former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

Pol Pot Basics

Pol Pot's reign of terror wiped out an estimated ¼ to ⅕ of Cambodia's entire population through execution, torture and starvation in the 1970s.

Early Life of Pol Pot

Pol Pot was born Saloth Sar in 1925. His family was connected to Cambodia's royal family. He was given a scholarship to study in France, where he lived from 1949 to 1953. It's believed he spent that time learning about Communism. He returned to Cambodia after flunking out of college in 1953, just before Cambodia gained its independence.

Communism of Pol Pot

In 1956 he married and became a college lecturer. This while being involved in the country's underground communist movement. But in the early 60s the Cambodian government was cracking down on communist and left-wing parties — which led to arrests and the shuttering of their newspapers. Communist party members elected him to be their Secretary of the Communist Central Committee. He subsequently renamed the party the Communist Party of Kampuchea, whose Khmer Rouge fighters took up arms against the government.

Pol Pot and the Killing Fields

The Khmer Rouge aimed to turn Cambodia into a utopian farming nation, prohibiting the ownership of private property and driving city-dwellers into the countryside to work. The regime tortured and executed intellectuals, doctors, teachers, Buddhist monks and nuns, and engineers. Methods of torture included electrocution and being skinned alive before being executed. Additionally, children could only work; they weren't permitted an education or play time. No one could be married without official state approval. Also banned — prayer, reading and music. Estimates of how many were killed in the Cambodian genocide range from 1.5 million to 3 million.

Pol Pot Deposed

In 1978 Vietnam invaded Cambodia, overthrew Pol Pot and installed a more moderate government. Pol Pot fled to the Cambodia/Thailand border, but was sentenced to death after a trial in absentia in 1980. Still, he wasn't arrested until June of 1997, when he was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. In April 1998, he heard on a radio program that he would be turned over to an international tribunal for trial. He died that night.

That's our overview of former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. Thanks for watching. For more visit About.com.

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