For centuries, Cambodia’s rural peasants had lived in modest circumstances with few entitlements, while the country’s tiny urban elite enjoyed more opportunities and privileges. But in April 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia, they reversed this social order.
Hundreds of thousands of city dwellers were evacuated to the countryside, where they were forced into hard labor. Despised by the peasants and Khmer Rouge cadres alike, these “new people” were viewed as parasites and imperialists, and their rights and privileges were removed. As many as two-thirds of them were executed or died as a result of starvation, untreated diseases, or overwork.
In this monograph, 52 new people who survived Democratic Kampuchea tell their stories and those of their loved ones under the Khmer Rouge.
Funding provided by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) with core support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).