The beginning of the
Khmer Rouge Army...
In 1953, the enthusiasm for anti-colonialism
attracted the attention of the French authorities, which then lead
to the disbanding of the KSA. Even though the association was disbanded,
the members still had underground activities going on. In 1956,
Hou Yuon, Thioum Mum and Khieu Samphan finally had a chance to help
organize the Khmer Students’ Union (KSU). Members of the KSU
studied Marxist political and economic theory. Hou Yuon and Khieu
Samphan both took doctorates in Paris, which gave then good knowledge
in publishing letters. In 1964, Huo Yuon wrote “our purpose
is to transform and develop the rural economy based on establishing
the peasant as the key to the organization of production”
(pp. 51). This theory became the Khmer Rouge’s intellectual
foundation for the revolution.
After KSA was disbanded, Saloth Sar returned
to Cambodia where he was assigned to the headquarters of the National
Central Executive Committee. There he learned to work with the masses
at the base and to build up the Issarak committees at the village
level. After being the president of the KSU in 1955 for a year,
Ieng Sary returned to Cambodia as well in 1957. In Cambodia he started
teaching at public schools and joined Hou Yuon’s private lycée,
a French public secondary school, (Kambubtoh College). Hou Yuon
returned to Cambodia after the KSU was stable and actually found
his lycée. Basically, everyone eventually returned to Cambodia.
Though there later came a conflict on the group’s priority.
Ieng Sary, Saloth Sar, and Son Sen think that their first priority
in the revolutionary struggle is to arm struggle against the Sihanouk
regime. Khieu Samphan, Hu Nim, Hou Yuon and Chau Seng believed that
U.S. imperialism was the greatest threat so they should first support
Sihanouk in fighting U.S. imperialism. But they didn’t reach
any agreements until later. Actually at that time, there was already
a Khmer People’s Party (KPP) was weakened by Sihanouk in 1954.
So on September 30, 1960, there was a meeting between the KPP and
the Pol Pot faction. After the meeting, they finally agreed to adopt
their whole group as the Worker’s Party of Kampuchea. Saloth
Sar was elected to be number three in the party, and Ieng Sary was
elected number five. Touch Samouth and Nuon Chea became the general
secretary and the deputy general secretary. Very quickly in 1963,
Saloth Sar’s clique grew and changed the party to the Kampuchea
Communist Party (KCP). After seeing the growing power of the KCP,
Sihanouk tried many ways to weaken the corporation by imprisoning
and killing their members. Followed by Sihanouk’s threat,
many high positioned people disappeared such as Saloth Sar, Ieng
Sary, Son Sen, and Touch Samouth. Though Saloth Sar, Ieng Sary and
Son Sen only went to a more secure place in the province. Touch
Samouth was the actual one that disappeared on July 20, 1962. After
playing “Disappear” there was, of course, still underground
activities where Saloth Sar and the others kept in close contact
with Khieu Samphan, Hou Yuon, and Hu Nim. With Touch Samouth disappeared,
Saloth Sar became the general secretary in 1963. After that, the
KCP’s activities were unclear during the early revolution
stage. There were many versions of what they were doing such as
building their arms.
Craig. The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea. Boulder, Colorado:
Westview Press, 1984.