etween 1975 and 1979, Pol Pot presided over a communist regime known as Democratic Kampuchea. His harsh, utopian policies, derived in part from Maoist China, drove an estimated 1.5 million Cambodians–or one in five–to their deaths from malnutrition, illness or overwork. At least 200,000 more were executed as enemies of the state. The ratio of deaths to population made the Cambodian revolution the most murderous in a century of revolutions. ol Pot, Brother No. 1 in the Khmer Rouge regime, is a name that sends shivers down the spines of most Cambodians and foreigners alike. It is Pol Pot who is most associated with the bloody madness of the regime he led between 1975 and 1979, and his policies heaped misery, suffering and death on millions of Cambodians. Even after being overthrown in 1979 he cast a long shadow over the Cambodian people: for many of them, just knowing he was still alive was traumatic and unjust. He died on 15 April 1998. Pol Pot was born Saloth Sar in a small village near Kompong Thom in 1925. He had a relatively privileged upbringing and his education included, ironically, some time in a wat (Buddhist temple monastery). As a young man he won a scholarship to study in Paris and spent several years there with leng Sary, who would later become foreign minister of Democratic Kampuchea. It is here that he is believed to have developed his radical Marxist thought, later to transform in to the politics of extreme Maoist agrarianism. back in Cambodia, Saloth Sar became a school teacher, entering politics in the late 1950’s. Very little is known about his early political career.
Pol Pot (1925-1998) the Cambodian political leader, whose radical Khmer Rouge movement controlled the government of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Under Pol Pot’s totalitarian regime, about 1.7 million Cambodians were killed and Cambodia fell into economic ruin. Pol Pot was born Saloth Sar in Kompong Thom Province. At that time Cambodia was a Buddhist kingdom under French control. His parents had royal connections: his cousin was one of King Sisovath Monivong’s wives, his sister was a consort, and his brother Loth Suong made a career in the palace. Sar had a strict, sheltered childhood. In 1934 he joined his brother at the palace compound in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, and spent a year in a royal monastery followed by six years in an elite Catholic school. In 1948 Sar went to study radio electricity in Paris, where he joined the French Communist Party. He kept company with Khieu Ponnary, the first Khmer (ethnic Cambodian) woman to receive a bachelor’s degree, and they were married in 1956. Sar’s student friends included Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, and Son Sen. Each person in the group adopted a pseudonym. Sar chose “Khmaer Da’em,” meaning “Original Cambodian,” while the others chose more modern code names such as “Free Khmer” and “Khmer Worker.” Later, in the mid-1970s, Sar adopted the pseudonym he is most widely known by: Pol Pot (which has no particular meaning).