Khmer Rouge terror tactics during the 1980s

"Formed in 1980, the  British Kampuchea Support Campaign  focused on the issue of self-determination and the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops."

"Formed in 1980, the British Kampuchea Support Campaign focused on the issue of self-determination and the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops."

Anirudh Bhati, Executive Director

The brutal Democratic Kampuchea regime led by the communist Khmer Rouge was ousted by the Vietnamese forces from Phnom Penh in 1979. The Khmer Rouge guerillas remained active in some parts of Cambodia including Anglong Veng and Pailinh. They also constituted a faction within the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), the government in exile which continued to occupy Cambodia's seat at the United Nations due to the diplomatic intervention of the People's Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States and ASEAN nations. The Vietnamese-backed People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK), which existed for a decade between 1979 and 1989, was treated as a pariah state for much of its existence and denied diplomatic recognition internationally. 

The Khmer Rouge communists continued to wage a protracted low-intensity battle by targeting lines of communication and other economic targets as a tactic to terrorize the people and undermine any faith they might have in the ability of the PRK regime to protect them. They also employed a combination of tactics such as propaganda, bribery, intimidation, torture and outright execution of PRK officials.

I have highlighted an excerpt from a human rights report submitted by the US State Department to the Congress entitled  'Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988', East Asia and Pacific, pg. 751.

The emphasis by the Khmer Rouge on the establishment of control over rural Cambodian villages (their "liberation") exposed increasing number of Cambodian civilians in 1988 to Khmer Rouge tactics which range from bribery through armed intimidation to the summary execution of village leaders and other representatives of the Phnom Penh regime. As in previous years, there are many reports to indicate that disobedience of the authorities encampments often draws severe punishment, sometimes including execution. This is most often the case in the smaller, less accessible Khmer Rouge camps, but there were instances reported during 1988 in the large, relatively open Khmer Rouge camp of Site 8 as well. In one case, the circumstances strongly suggest that a Khmer Rogue soldier who had resisted returning to the front after visiting his wife in camp was summarily executed.

Khmer Rouge defectors report that civilians and prisoners from Khmer Rouge jails have been killed by mines while performing forced labour, such as transporting supplies for guerilla forces in Cambodia. Prisoners allege that some of these deaths are deliberate, with those accused of serious offenses sent to work in areas where the Khmer Rouge have planted landmines. One former prisoner of the Khmer Rouge said this punishment was called "being sent to cut a tree" -- with the tree having mines planted around the base. Such deaths are described by Khmer Rouge authorities to outsiders as accidental. Attempts to flee Khmer Rouge-operated camps for those run by the NCR can also be dangerous, with the risk of being shot by Khmer Rouge guards.