Pol Pot

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Pol Pot
Pol pot 1381980f.jpg
Full Name: Saloth Sâr
Alias: Pol Pot
Brother Number One
Vach du Mach
The Hitler of Cambodia
The One with the Gun
Elder Brother
Origin: Prek Sbauv, Kampong Thom, Cambodia
Occupation: Prime Minister of Cambodia (1975 - 1979)
Leader of the Khmer Rouge (1968 - 1985)
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (1963 - 1981)
Skills: Manipulation
Hobby: Letting Cambodians starve, Executing Cambodians.
Goals: Killing anyone who hated him (succeeded)
Turn Cambodia into the perfect communist state (failed)
Crimes: War crimes
Human rights abuses
Crimes against humanity
Ethnic cleansing
Type of Villain: Genocidal Tyrant

Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake.
~ Pol Pot

Pol Pot (born Saloth Sâr, May 19th, 1925 – April 15th, 1998) was the Prime Minister of Cambodia (known as Democratic Kampuchea during his rule) from 1975 to 1979, during which he imposed a totalitarian dictatorship upon his country and essentially enslaved his entire country during his brief tenure. He achieved this by evacuating the entire population of Cambodia's cities to the countryside at gunpoint, where his followers, known as the Khmer Rouge, forced the people to work extremely hard labor.

A Marxist-Leninist who patterned himself after Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, Pol Pot's goal was to turn Cambodia into a socialist, agrarian state, but his brand of socialism was considered far too extreme even by the standards of most of the other communist governments of the Cold War era.

Pol Pot is widely considered to be one of the cruellest and most brutal tyrants who ever lived, despite being in power for only four years. He is the only man in all of history to have ordered an official genocide against his entire country (the Cambodian Genocide) and declared that money, personal property, and religion as a whole be banned. Due to the poor working conditions attributed during his regime, it is estimated that he is responsible for the death of up to 25% of Cambodia's entire population, which would amount to an estimate of 2,000,000, however, the exact number of deaths attributable to his tenure as Prime Minister of Cambodia is still a subject of debate.

Early Life

Pol Pot was born Saloth Sâr on May 19th, 1925 in the small fishing village of Prek Sbauv with a population of only a few people. At a young age, he was sent to train as a Buddhist monk in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh which had a somewhat multicultural background that consisted of various other Asian groups, which he resented. His reign is often characterized for its harsh persecution of various Asian groups, most notably and infamously, towards the Vietnamese.

From 1949 to 1953, he studied electronics at EFREI in Paris and after being ultimately unsuccessful in his pursuit to obtain such a degree, would return to Cambodia later that year. It was in Paris that he met many of his closest advisors, including Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan.


He became associated with the Communist Party of Kampuchea upon his return and later obtained the title of general secretary, where he became a close ally of exiled head of state Norodom Sihanouk during the Cambodian Civil War. In 1968, he established the Khmer Rouge, which promoted his view of extreme communism as well as Cambodian nationalism. The Khmer Rouge soon became the top threat to Lon Nol, who had seized power in a coup d'état in March 1970.

Pol Pot supported North Vietnam during the last few years of the Vietnam War, entering the conflict in 1972.

The Khmer Rogue invaded Phnom Penh on April 17th, 1975 and evacuated city residents to the countryside; this was done to make the urban dwellers work on collective farms and participate in forced labor project. Pol Pot called this his idea of a "purified utopia" were Cambodian society would be transformed into an extreme form of peasant communism. Following the Khmer Rogue's assent in Phnom Penh he became the de facto leader of the country by default. His reason for evacuating the population to the countryside was to take advantage of Cambodia's thriving agricultural background. His regime was heavily supported by Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China, as well as the Việt Cộng and the Pathet Lao. The king Norodom Sihanouk resigned from his post after witnessing forced labor by the population.

His reign targeted many specific groups of people, mainly the disabled, the elderly and pregnant women as he thought they could contribute nothing of any significance to his regime. Initially, these specific groups of people were forced to work extremely hard labor in concentration camps, and those who became exhausted or fell ill due to this were immediately executed due to the attributed policies he had instigated during his regime. People who wore glasses were executed during his regime, although the reason for this in unverifiable, this is likely as he thought their limited eye site would not contribute his regime to the fullest potential..

He also had a resentment to those of an educated background, and also towards intellectual people. He decided to exterminate all traits of intellectuality and choosing illiterate people for his regime.

He was militantly against immigration and other ethnic groups that resided in Cambodia during his dictatorship were perhaps the most infamous target for persecution. In particular, his hatred towards the Vietnamese which journalist Nate Thayer, who was a significant factor in the trial of Pol Pot, referred to as "psychotic".

Anyone who was originally from Vietnam, could speak Vietnamese, was married to a Vietnamese person, were of Vietnamese descent or even so much as reseexecuted.tnamese were immediately executed.

The cathastrophe

Pol Pot holds the distinction for being the only person in history to order official genocide against his own country. Many deaths could be attributed to the poor working conditions and significant malnutrition, many were found eating dead human flesh and drinking their own urine in order to avoid starvation.

It is estimated his regime totalled in the deaths of 25% of Cambodian's entire population which was largely due to the genocide and it could also be argued that a great number of deaths were caused as a result of the poor working conditions. Victims of both the Cambodian genocide and starvation were buried in what came to be known as the killing fields, in recent years further, previously unearthed killing fields have been discovered. Pol Pot's leadership and Khmer Rogue regime additionally resulted in sending Cambodia back 200 years.


When in power, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge forces invaded Vietnam, which resulted in Vietnam coming into Cambodian territory. They succeeded in removing Pol Pot from power in January 1979, however he remained the leader of the Khmer Rouge until 1985, when he ceded power to Khieu Samphan. Despite this, he continued to have major influence within the Khmer Rouge for a number of years.

Several victims of his regime who passed through the infamous Tuol Sleng prison to be tortured and killed under Kang Kek Iew

In 1996, Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea lead a wave of defections from the Khmer Rouge to the Cambodian government, now under the rule of the Cambodian People's Party and Prime Minister Hun Sen (himself a former Khmer Rouge cadre.) Fearing that they would turn him over, Pol Pot fled into the forests along Cambodia's border with Thailand.

Final years

Politically rechazed, Though he had formally left the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot still maintained a number of loyal followers. By June 1997, he had grown suspicious of Son Sen and ordered his death. Khmer Rouge cadres subsequently killed Sen and 13 of his family members and aides; Pol Pot later stated that he had not sanctioned all of these killings. Ta Mok was concerned that Pol Pot could turn on him too. Mok rallied troops loyal to him at Anlong Veng, informing them that Pol Pot had betrayed their movement and then headed to Kbal Ansoang. Fearing Mok's troops, on 12 June Pol Pot, his family, and several bodyguards fled on foot. Pol Pot was very frail and had to be carried. After Mok's troops apprehended them, Pol Pot was placed under house arrest.

Nate Thayer became the second journalist from the West to interview the tyrannical dictator in October 1997, while he was under house arrest. During the interview he showed aggression whenever challenged by Thayer and would often attempt to justify his inept actions during his brutal four year reign.

Ta Mok agreed to turn Pol Pot over to an international tribunal in 1998 to stand trial for crimes he committed during his rule of Cambodia. He died from heart failure on April 15th, 1998 at the age of 72. Many, including Nate Thayer, believed his death was a drug related suicide as he was fearful of being convicted of his heinous crimes, another version of the facts is that he was assassinated by order of Ta Mok before being delivered to justice, in fact Ta Mok refused to have an autopsy performed.


  • He was originally born Saloth Sâr, but changed it officially to Pol Pot in July 1970. The author of Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare has suggested his name change was due to it deriving from pol: "the Pols were royal slaves, an aboriginal people", and that "Pot" was simply a "euphonic monosyllable" that he liked.
  • The punk rock band Dead Kennedys' hit song "Holiday in Cambodia" is about Pol Pot and his oppressive reign.
  • Enver Hoxha, the communist ruler of Albania and considered one of the most brutal communist dictators, was a harsh critic of Pol Pot's regime, calling him "bloodthirsty" and describing his treatment of his people as "disgusting" and "inhumane".
  • During his political career, he used a wide array of pseudonyms: Pouk, Hay, Pol, 87, Grand-Uncle, Elder Brother, First Brother and in later years he used the pseudonyms 99 and Phem. He told a secretary that "the more often you change your name the better. It confuses the enemy."
  • Before he entered politics, Pol Pot was a teacher at the Chamraon Vichea private school in Phnom Penh, teaching history, geography, French literature, and morals. This is somewhat ironic considering his hatred of the educated class during his years in power.