2 to 3 million Khmer people out of a 7 million population were killed by diseases, starvation and worst of all extreme forms of extermination during the years or 1975 to 1979. It was more than murder, it was inhumane forms of torture, death and even cannibalism. The genocide that occurred under the Khmer Rouge is one of the worst mass killings of a people group of the 20th century. Bathed in racial superiority, Saloth Sar, or his revolutionary name Pol Pot, sought to resurrect the supposed true Khmer race and restore Cambodia or Kampuchea to its glory days of the Angkor Empire.
Pol Pot literally wanted to rewind the clock back four hundred years to Kampuchea's unmatched agrarian society that was the largest in the world at that time. This setting of the clock back to "zero" was accomplished by systemically dismantling all parts of Cambodian culture including its religious, educational, political and familial institutions. The Khmer Rouge, under Pol Pot, would accomplish this through sheer terror, murder and desensitization. Anyone who could be seen as a possible enemy to Angkor would be imprisoned, interrogated and tortured until a confession was given then they were disposed of.
The result of this forced desertion of the cities and towns into farming collectives was the destruction of both former and modern Cambodian culture. The religious leaders, the Buddhist monks were killed. The educated and political opposition and their families were killed. The racially mixed and non Khmer were destroyed. Even former communists party members who fled to Vietnam during the civil war were targeted for deserting the cause. Families were torn apart, children were killed in front of their parents and parents killed in front of their children. Whatever would create the most terror was deemed necessary in order to uphold unmatched control over the state through fear. In a single day all forms of money were abolished, television and news were shut down and communication with the outside world was cut off. A dark cloud of secrecy, pandemonium was unleashed upon an unsuspecting country who had just survived a civil war only to find hell on earth.
To this day, the sights of where thousands of bodies were literally left in piles, dumped in caves, buried in fields and thrown in rivers have a grim essence in the air. These killing fields are a permanent reminder of the worst of times in their countries history. The question still to address, if possible to even contemplate, is why? To what end did the Khmer Rouge seek and where was the rest of the world? Stories would seep out of the country through various surviving refugees but they were only taken as rumors too impossible to believe.
A possible connection to Cambodia today and with the issue of human trafficking is this, if the worst had happened than anything else fails in comparison. It's possible that the acceptance of sex trafficking is almost a lesser of two evils in a war torn country (in reality both are evil). It seems absurd but it's almost as if the belief is "sex trafficking is not the best way of life but at least we are not getting slaughtered by our own people." This is possibly the most heart breaking consequences post 1979, the justification of the forced rape of girls for money. As well, the killing didn't end after 1979, neither by the Khmer Rouge or the invading Vietnamese. The devastation and play of shadow governments would continue for another fourteen years.