Pol Pot

born 1925, died 1998

Cambodian political leader, originally named Saloth Sar. Paris-educated, and a Khmer Communist leader from 1960, he led Khmer Rouge guerrillas against the government of Lon Nol after 1970. In 1975 he proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea; he served as its premier (1976-79). The systematic murder of members of various groups, forced labor in the "killing fields," and the transformation of Cambodia into a xenophobic agrarian society ended with an invasion by the Vietnamese in late 1979. Although he retired officially in 1985, Pol Pot continued to control his guerrillas, the strongest antigovernment force, in western jungle areas of Cambodia, until factional collapse shortly before his death.

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