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The use of children in the Cambodian genocide - Essay Example

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The use of children in the Cambodian genocide

The farms today are known as the 'killing fields' as so many died through over work, hunger or slaughter. Amongst the victims were the children who were taken away from their families and made to live in communal groups where the only family they were to consider was that of the Khmer Rouge. This essay sets out to show the lives these children led
The Khmer Rouge wanted to eradicate anyone suspected of "involvement in free-market activities" including professionals, almost everyone with an education and who had connections to government and those who lived in the cities. The regime did not want the risk of anybody having the consciousness to rebel against their movement. The country was predominantly Buddhist and its monks were disrobed, half of them were killed and the rest forced to work in the harsh agricultural labor camps and Christianity was also abolished. They also believed that parents were corrupted by capitalism and felt that children should be separated from their families in order to ensure that they were swathed in socialist ideology. Children were taught methods of torture and were instrumental to the leadership of the communist dictatorship.
The regime saw that children could be molded and indoctrinated to their political ideology; they were able to condition the children to believe that they were not the enemy and in doing so developed a community of children who were not able to identify with any other than the Khmer Rouge. The intention was to destroy the family values that were part of their culture and irradiate the trust that is held within family and community networks. Community and family members were expected and given incentives to spy on each other and this shattered networks and dissolved any trust through imbedding deeply rooted fear [1].

The young minds of children were easier to manipulate and the regime were able to brainwash children to such an extent that they would report back to the regime if their own parents were being antagonistic, the regime taught them to believe that they were their family and that their own kin were their enemies. Slogans such as 'I'm not killing my mother -I'm killing my enemy' were planted into their minds [2]. A propaganda song entitled, "We Children Love Angkar boundlessly," compared pre-revolutionary children to orphans abandoned by "the enemy", their parents, an excerpt from the song follows:


[1] Colletta, N. J., & Cullen, M. L. (2000). The nexus between violent conflict, social capital and social cohesion: Case studies from Cambodia and Rwanda [electronic version].
[2] Martin, M. A. (1994). Cambodia: A shattered society. Berkeley, California: University of California Press
Before the revolution, children were poor and lived lives of misery,
Living like animals, suffering as orphans.
The enemy abandoned all thought of us
Now the glorious revolution supports us all [3].

The book the 'Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields' contains 29 essays from children who suffered at the hands of the regime. The children speak about their astonishing and painful experiences at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, how their families were torn apart to assist the social engineering plan of the regime, how ...Show more

Summary

Genocide is the premeditated and methodical destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group and was an atrocity that marks Cambodian history. The communist regime the Khmer Rouge, that reigned between 1975 and 1979 singled out certain groups for elimination and torture and led a brutal revolution within its borders…
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The use of children in the Cambodian genocide essay example
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