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Pol Pot

An attempt by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot to form a Communist peasant farming society in Cambodia resulted in the deaths of 25% of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and execution.

Born in 1925, Pol Pot had attended college in Paris in 1949, where he developed an interest in Marxism.

He returned to Cambodia in 1953 and led a Communist movement there, becoming leader of the Cambodian Communist Party in 1962.

He had to flee to the jungle, though, as Prince Sihanouk did not agree with him. There, he formed the Khmer Rouge and waged a war against Sihanouk.

From 1975 to 1979 over 2 million people were killed. To save ammunition, executions were performed using hammers, axe handles, spades and sharpened bamboo sticks.

The bodies of those executed were buried in mass graves that became known as “killing fields”.