Pathway to Hope
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Modern History of Cambodia
Cambodia fell to the communists when the United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1975. The Cambodian Khmer Rouge army was ruthless in their pursuit to annihilate any Cambodian perceived to be a threat. Government soldiers, Christians, doctors, teachers, business people--basically anyone who was educated, or perceived to be so, were killed. Men, women, and children were brought to fields (now known as The Killing Fields), slaughtered, and buried in mass graves. In just 3 years it is estimated they murdered over 2 million, or 20%, of their own people.
In 1979 Vietnam invaded and took over Cambodia and drove the Khmer Rouge army into the jungles of northwestern Cambodia. In 1992 the United Nations stepped in and set up a parliamentary government in Cambodia and the first elections were held in 1994. In 1999 Pol Pol, the Khmer Rouge leader, died and the remaining soldiers accepted the amnesty offer by the government for them to lay down their arms.
There is relative peace in Cambodia now and the current government allows freedom of religion. But the country is left in abject poverty. Phone lines, railroads, roads, irrigation--all of the basic infrastructure--is destroyed. Most of the country has been de-forested, which often causes flooding during the rainy season. Most people are still struggling to eke out a living.
The population is up to 14 million. Most people “live off the land”, and therefore, live day-to-day for food. Cambodia is still one of the poorest countries in the world and it is the children and the elderly who suffer the most.
Here are websites that you may find useful in learning more about Cambodia and the Khmer people.