This is a fictional autobiography of the late Cambodian leader Pol Pot
I Am Pol Pot
In this novel, in the 1970s the turbulence of the Vietnam War and protests by students and youth who where un-willing to fight for a cause that seemed unsinkable and useless. When President Richard Nixon spread the Vietnam War to Kampuchea, (called Cambodia today) he not only caused outrage and protest at home, including the Kent State Ohio massacres, but he also threw Kampuchea into a state of civil war. His inept handling of the situation brought about one of the strangest social experiment of the 20th Century. Pol Pot ruled through a committee known for the first year only as the Ankar (organization). His name was not even spoken to the Kampuchean people for two years. His Communist Party of Kampuchea had amassed a powerful movement of disenfranchised peasants, who were loyal to him and his regime. The Residence of Phnom Penh, the city’s capital, were not so lucky. They were treated with suspicion. And punishment for those deemed “un-redeemable” was harsh.
Diary entry: Khieu Ponnary - 12 September 1949:
Written in Khmer, translated to English:
He was walking out of the Moulin Rouge, in Paris, France, the place where the Artists of the Petite Boulevard, such as Vincent van Gogh, Charles Angrand, Louis Anquetin, Emile Bernard, Paul Gauguin, Camille and Lucien Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec came to watch the Can Can Girls and drink the Absinthe. I didn’t know his name yet. He was Saloth Sâr.
Today the Khmer students probably drink French wine or fine Cognac. But they had come from a backward rural society, as I did, in Kampuchea, and this was the capitol of civilization. It was an inspiration for both artists and leftist political thinkers.
As with any young man at the time, Sâr was sewing some wild oats. I couldn’t blame him. There was so much to do there. Paris was filled with city lights and people from all over the world. The Moulin Rouge was a huge brightly lit building, easily living up to its reputation as a bright red attraction. It always had that fake windmill on top that was always brightly lit in red.
Sâr was short, shy, and a thin boy with a boyish look. He was very attractive.
One day I approached him as he walked out with some friends.
“You’re Khmer aren’t you?”
“It’s always nice to meet another person from Cambodia.”
“Yes. I’m Saloth Sâr.”
“I’m Khieu Ponnary. I’m attending the University of Paris. I came to study Shakespeare and Khmer linguistics. Since I got here, I’m interested in politics and philosophy.”
“I’m going to the Ecole Française de Radio-Electricité. I like music so this is a good field for me to get into. I like poetry also.”
“Do you like politics?”
“Sure. This is the home of the French Revolution. They chopped off the king’s, and queen’s head, and the Directorate took control and brought order to this country, until Napoleon took it over.”
“The Communist Party has encouraged us to study the Paris Commune. It impresses me because women took such an active role in setting it up and defending it. One who really stood out was Louise Michel.”
Sâr and I began walking down the busy Paris street, with its heavy traffic, and we stopped at a sidewalk café.
“Care for some coffee?” Sâr asked.
“Yes.” We went into the cafe and decided to talk further.
We went to a small place on the main street, with white wicker chairs and white tables. The tables were outdoors had had umbrellas. Ours was red. So there we sat drinking French coffee and talking politics.
“Why don’t you come to the next meeting with me?” Ponnary said.
“The French Communist Party? But I’m Khmer,” answered Sâr
“There’re several Khmers that come and are members. We have a Khmer Association. It’s like a chapter within the party. There are many non-French people who belong to out party. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso? You’ll love meeting him. Everyone likes him and his paintings. He’s a party member. He did some wonderful paintings on the Spanish Civil War.”
“Well, if you’re going to be there, how can I say no? Where’s it at and what time?”
After we decided to meet up at the next party meeting, Sâr asked me to his apartment, for some wine. For weeks we met at the same café, a colorful café with red awnings on a street in the Latin Quarter, near the 5th Arrondissement. There were many cafés and bistros on its streets. It was also along the left bank, an area known for its philosophers, artists and intellectuals. It was here that I introduced Sâr to many of his future comrades, at least three times a week. We also attended meetings. We went to a meeting hall at my university, a small brown corner building. I think the real reason he wanted to come is that he liked me. I didn’t care. I found him attractive also. It took him a while to get used to the ideals of communism, but he was very devoted to a free Kampuchea, and very nationalistic. Even though he didn’t seem that political, I could tell he was someone who would take politics seriously. Maybe it was just a gut feeling. But I knew he would fit in.
Journal Entry: 18 July, Sâr:
I met Ponnary near the Moulin Rouge as we were leaving. I was instantly struck by her beauty and the fact that she wore no makeup and avoided ostentatious clothing or jewelry. She was real earthy and I liked that. We went to a sidewalk café, which became a regular hangout for us. I had taken some interest in politics. I hated living in a country dominated by the French, turning us into a colony and bastardizing our culture, and I hated having a king. Here we were in the 20th century and we still had a powerful monarchy. The French destroyed their monarchy and that’s one of the few things I liked about them.
Ponnary went a step further. She had read all the classics on Marxism, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, VI Lenin, and Joseph Stalin. She had also read the Asian revolutionaries Ho and Mao Zedong. I had never met a woman as smart as Ponnary. She had a political answer to everything. She just didn’t read the books, she fully understood them. We spent hours discussing the possibilities of Marxist revolution in countries such as France and at home.
But we also talked of ourselves. I told her of my love of music and how I saw music as a great way to change the world. I wanted to write and perform my own music. Then we spoke of each other. One night she invited me back to her place. She had a tiny tan room with a red metal-framed bed, a black and white clock on the wall and some small posters of communist events. She had no place to make tea, but she did have a bottle of some French red wine. We had a few glasses and then sat on the bed to talk. It didn’t take long for the small talk to change to kissing. Next we were in bed together. I was taken in by her bronze skin, her long dark hair and deep brown eyes. She seemed like the perfect Khmer woman. We made love that night and it was far more exciting than I could ever have imagined at the women’s quarters (red light district) at home.
History paper from University of Paris, February 1949:
Written in French, translated to English:
The women’s role in the Paris Commune
By Khieu Ponnary
The Paris Commune was created in March of 1871, after France was defeated by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian war. Free elections were held in that city and it was declared an autonomous zone. The elected council was made up of Jacobins (based on a religious order) Republicans and socialists, mostly Blanquists (more traditional socialists) and followers of the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. They wanted to recreate France as a federation of communes. There were a few others formed in other parts of France. They were all called Communards.
Many anarchists played a role within the commune, including Louise Michel, a woman activist. She had been a schoolmistress at Audelancourt. She wanted to go to Paris believing it was the one place she could make a difference. While in Paris, she focused on teaching, writing, poetry and reading.
She began to see the poverty of many Parisians and how they had to live. It inspired her to write and recite this poem:
“I have seen criminals and whores
And spoken with them. Now I inquire
If you believe them made as now they are
To drag their rags in blood and mire
Preordained, an evil race?
You to whom all men are prey
Have made them what they are today.”
The Paris Commune was considered a socialist revolution, and the first communist uprising, which tried to create freedom and equality for all the people of Paris. Louise Michel, along with others, gave her total self to the revolution. She fought on the street’s barricades, and devoted herself to the cause. She was eagerly willing to sacrifice her life for the freedom she sought. The commune was possible because Prussia had beaten France. France had a weak government, which only encouraged the new radicals to try and take action.
The French Army, then led by Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who by now was calling himself Napoléon III, began attacking Paris in the name of “capitalist civilization” and "liberty." Government troops entered the city, May 21st and there were seven days of bitter street fighting. Squads of soldiers and armed thugs of the bourgeoisie wandered through the streets, killing and maiming at will. Over 25,000 people lay dead, their blood running like a river in the ditches and sewers. Many in the French army murdered Communards after they had surrendered, and their bodies where dumped in mass graves.
There was no distinction between men women. The women ended up fighting at the blockades along with the men. Many women took part in the government and the Central Committee of the Union of Women for the Defense of Paris and the Care of the Wounded ended up defending the commune with their lives.
According to Karl Marx, The Paris Commune was one of the first attempts at a communist workers state or a proletariat dictatorship.
History paper from Ecole Française de Radio-Electricité, 15 November 1951:
Written in French, translated to English:
The French Revolution and The Directorate
By Saloth Sâr:
Thanks to the French Revolution all history had changed. There was nothing like it at the time and the shock wave from it rippled out and changed all of Europe forever.
King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette plus many other aristocrats were beheaded by the Guillotine in 1793.
The monarchs of Europe were so outraged over the beheadings, that in 1793 Britain, Spain and the Netherlands declared War against France. Needless to say they were unsuccessful and the French proved that kings and queens were unnecessary. The slogans of the revolution were:
“Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité.”
The US at the time actually had some revolutionaries who inspired this event. It’s odd that such a revolutionary state could become so reactionary in 200 years. A man called Robespierre ruled during the time period from the fall of the Bastille to the reactionary “Reign of Terror.” During that time, many innocent people had their heads lopped off by the Guillotine. During one stretch of paranoia, 1,376 individuals were guillotined in 47 days, filling the streets with streams of blood. Blood gushed as each head fell into a brown wicker basket.
The executioners must have been soaked in blood by the end of the day, with blood seeping into their shoes. It must have been a sticky mess.
In 1795 the Reign of Terror ended with the Directorate. The Directorate had saved the French people from the terror of Robespierre. The Directorate was an organization without a king or godhead expecting the people to bow down to. The leaders seemed to stay secret. They operated and ran the new revolution. They secularized the country, even starting a new calendar with the year 1, to get away from the Christian calendar the rest of Europe was using,
They also had to protect the revolution, so the Guillotine still had to be used against those who would try to destroy it. The country and the ideals of the revolution were worth losing a few lives, especially when there were so many traitors among them. But there was one traitor the Directorate did not count on. That was their own General, the appointed young Corsican soldier, Napoleon Bonaparte, who led the armies of France against the revolution and all its progress. By 1799 Napoleon had become head of a new government that was in fact a dictatorship. He abolished the Directorate and set himself up for one-man rule. He had betrayed the revolution. He set himself up as a king-head or godhead, calling himself an emperor. He proceeded to try to conquer most of Europe. He was indeed a traitor to the people of France.
I’ve always hated kings. I saw a picture of a revolutionary holding up high the head of King Louis XVI by his hair. The king’s body was clothed in a white prison uniform. The Guillotine stood on a tall, large wooden platform. Seeing the royal family beheaded and the shock it caused must have been one of the most important events in history.
posted by Salamander 奥托 @ 9:46 PM 0 comments
Here are some excerpts from I Am Pol Pot:
Nurodum Sihacook the gentle butcher – When a scorpion smells like a rose.
A journal entry by Saloth Sâr, better known as Pol Pot
10 June 1997:
Translated from Khmer to English:
The stench was overwhelming. It smelled like a slaughterhouse for animals. I was on a road in Kampuchea. It was barely a road. I’m not sure a large car could have made it over the dirt pathway and there were ruts that could easily trap a car. Green foliage of all types grew along the side. This was and still is Kampuchea, a hot, humid, jungle filled country.
It was not dead animals I smelled. It was people. They had been the cadre of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. They weren’t just killed. Some had their stomachs slit and their intestines pulled out. They were covered in flies, swarming all over them. Some hung from trees, others lie in ditches. They were captured by government troops and then savagely killed. And who led this vicious government that would allow such brutality? It was none other than Nurodum Sihacook. He had been a king, but he abdicated as king to run for office and become prime minister of Cambodia. It was he who always used the European term Cambodia. A squat man with a puffy face and squeaky voice; that man who probably never had to eat without a sliver spoon in his mouth; the man who thought he was as good at music as misleading Kampuchea; the man who probably never had to wipe his own ass his whole life was responsible for this. I always called our country Kampuchea.
To the rest of the world Sihacook had a reputation as a gentle peaceful ruler – a democratically elected former king who abdicated his thrown to be a real politician. Even many of the peasants liked him, despite the fact that he tried to keep them out of the capitol city and refused to let them wear their traditional peasant clothing in Phnom Penh.
Sihacook was a farce. He fooled nearly everyone. He was a shrewd politician. He followed a policy of "extreme neutrality." He was able to keep his country from being swallowed into the Vietnam War and he was able to preserve the country's independence up until the 1970s. To do this he often pitted various powers against each other. He refused to cooperate with the U.S. war in Vietnam. He not only refused to join SEATO (Southeast Asian Treaty Organization, formed under US influence in 1954) but also criticized the organization while on a trip to Beijing. He developed relations with the Soviet Union and Poland. He accepted aid from China. He had made the statement that "Although we are not communists we do not oppose communism as long as the latter is not imposed on our people from outside."
But inside the country, he was no different than Adolf Hitler. He rounded up the Communist Party members and sympathizers and put them in concentration camps, most of these people were destined to die. And as with Hitler, the middle classes of the city, the petite bourgeois and other conservatives not only didn’t care, they cheered him on for his brutality. It was the same thing, as in Germany, here in Kampuchea all over again.
Sihacook's tolerance of international communism, such as in China and Vietnam; was largely a diplomatic tactic. He killed us here at home. He had many of our leaders assassinated. I remember the day, in 1960, that our party's chairman walked towards the huge gray brick building that was known as the parliament at the time. A car pulled up and a group of armed police got out. They arrested him and took him off. We found his pasty white body a day later, in a ditch, outside the city. His throat had been slit.
There were other killings. I remember seeing a comrade sitting in a café when a group of soldiers, obviously Sihacook’s goon squad, walked up and fired a gun point-blank at his head. As he laid there, blood spouting from his head, his eyes staring out with that “death look,” the soldiers simply walked back to their Jeeps and left. Another day, another killing – to them it was no big deal.
There was one person he fooled in the wrong way and that was the US President Richard Nixon. I developed a love-hate relationship with the man over time. He killed hundreds of thousands of my people and tried to wipe us out. Yet he hated our worst enemy and he hated him for all the wrong reasons. I love what Nixon had to say about him in his memoirs.
Nixon had visited with Sihacook in 1953. He wrote that he was "vain and flighty. He seemed prouder of his musical talents than of his political leadership, and he appeared to me to be totally unrealistic about the problems his country faced."
Vain and flighty, that’s putting it mildly. He flitted around like a fairy. But he was ruthless to the core. In response to student riots in 1963, he drew up a list of the party's central committee and promised to wipe them out. What did we have to do with the riots? We didn’t start them. The students didn’t like Sihacook and his policies. So he took it out on us.
Unlike former President Lyndon Johnson, who respected Cambodia's independence and opposed trying to remove Sihacook, Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were eager to see him go. They were blinded by Vietnam. They thought if they could control Kampuchea, they could win the Vietnam War. Just as with the rest of the world, Nixon was duped. He and the CIA came up with an elaborate plan to get rid of Sihacook and they couldn’t have done us a bigger favor.
The greasy slick bastard always wore a suit and tie to impress his Western supporters. He met with every world leader he could, capitalist or communist, and he was also a gracious host.
“All my life, I have fought against all forms of colonialism, imperialism, expansionism and neo-colonialism of which my nation, Cambodia, was victim,” he wrote.
Yes, he was against all those things, as long as it was on his terms. Those who stood in his way, locally, got murdered. Some of our party members actually tried to run for office in a coalition with the Democrats who ran against him. Some of our people even tried to serve in his cabinet. But it was always the same. He’d give them a position, and then kill them.
He was no man of the people. Sihacook was well-known for leading what some have termed an extravagant lifestyle, and being an unabashed "ladies man." He married his sixth wife, Monique, an Italian-Cambodian, in 1952.
After being ousted in a coup, Sihacook wrote a book, My War with the CIA In the book’s introduction, he wrote that enough evidence was available at the time “to prove the unceasing and determined intervention of the (US) in the internal affairs of my country, and particularly the role of the (US) Central Intelligence Agency, in a series of plots which culminated in the military coup of 18 March 1970.”
He should have seen that coming all along.
Sihacook either allowed or was unable to stop US forces to pursue North Vietnamese soldiers across the Cambodian border in January 1968. However, Washington twisted Sihacook’s readiness to accept the principle of hot pursuit to justify the intensive bombing of Cambodia between 1969 and 1973.
The US bombing of Cambodia officially started in March 1969. The so-called Vietcong and North Vietnamese who were pursued and killed turned out to be Cambodian farmers, monks, teachers and students; and the bombing caused the destruction of Cambodian roads, pagodas, schools and plantations. Nurodum Sihacook wrote about this, as he seemed unable to stop it.
The war had moved into Cambodia well before that. A 1968 editorial from “The Sangkum,” a Sihacook publication, accused the US of bombing a village in Kandal province.
In a 1968 interview with Look magazine, Nurodum Sihacook accused US troops of attacking a Cambodian post, which was flying the Cambodian flag, more than eight kilometers inside the Cambodian border and killing three people. This is far from the concept of “hot pursuit,” he said an interview.
When I finally went to the countryside, I realized how much damage the US had done. Large areas of farmland were nothing but craters. Buildings of all types were nothing but rubble. The dead, victims of the bombings lay strewn all over the countryside, their pasty white bodies lying on the ground, swollen from the hot sun and covered with flies.
As with Nixon, we eventually found that we needed each other, as the US war intensified and began to drag Kampuchea into it. As much as we hated Nurodum Sihacook, when he was finally down and out, he turned to his worst enemy, us, for help.
In the short run we did help him. In the long run he paid a price for that help. We circulated our own axioms by our ruling party during Democratic Kampuchea:
“A king is unnecessary, for his shit stinks the same as his own people’s.”