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cambodia - Blackburn6 Sarah Blackburn Professor...

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Blackburn1 Sarah Blackburn Professor O’Shaughnessy English-01-012 23 November 2007 Art as Cultural History: Rebuilding the Arts in Post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia Bombs rang out over the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh in 1973 when the United States executed their plain, ‘Operation Menu’ in an effort to disrupt the Viet Cong. The United States aided the Cambodian Communists, better known as the Khmer Rouge, in their effort impose a radical form of communism on the country by providing them with weaponry. This act began genocide of the people of Cambodia by their government known as the ‘Killing Fields’ which would last eighteen years and take over two million lives. With settlements currently in place by the United Nations, Cambodia is in the process of rebuilding not only their government and economy, but their indigenous art forms which were lost during the Killing Fields. (Maher) Cambodia has been able to cope with their losses and start anew by reconnecting with the art forms they developed before the Khmer Rouge. The Cambodian Civil War from 1967-1975 began a cycle of violence which would not end until the late 20 th century. The Khmer Rouge and their allied forces, the Democratic of Vietnam and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam fought the Khmer Republic, the current Cambodian government who was supported by the United States and the Republic of Vietnam. Despite the money, bombs and other materials provided by the United States, the Khmer Republic was defeated in April, 1975. (Kiernan 19) This defeat allowed the Khmer Rouge to redefine the way the country was run.
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Blackburn2 The first thing the Khmer Rouge did when they had gained power was to cut off all foreign relations, outlawing other currency and religion. Next, they closed all schools and hospitals, as well as confiscated all private property and personal farms. They relocated the Cambodian citizens from urban environments and forced them to work in collective farms by going into Phnom Penh and telling the city’s residents that there had been a threat of American bombing. The collective farms resulted in mass executions as well as deaths by illness, work exhaustion and starvation. Workers were forced to work twelve hours without stopping for rest or food. Families were split and many people were executed for trying to contact missing members of their family. (LaFreniere 57) Because so many of the workers either lived in the city or just had to no knowledge of farming, a famine was inevitable. If a person was caught picking berries or other wild fruits they were executed on the spot as it was a ‘crime of private enterprise’, or a crime of working for personal gain. If they were not working for everyone’s common good, it was unacceptable. (Welaratna 108) Murder was certain for anyone who was considered an ‘enemy’ to the Khmer Rouge.
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