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Cambodia, communist protests and revolution

Justin Corfield


On September 30, 1960, Cambodian communists held a secret congress at Phnom Penh railway station where, under the leadership of Tou Samouth, they changed their name from the Khmer People's Revolutionary Party to the Communist Party of Kampuchea. They were uncertain what to do in the short term. Some clearly favored an accommodation with King Norodom Sihanouk , the current ruler, and a number of leading communists joined the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Popular Socialist Community), commonly referred to as the Sangkum, which had been founded in 1955 by Sihanouk. Others were keen on launching an armed struggle, while another group wanted a closer alliance with the Vietnamese communist movement. Although a number clearly supported what Sihanouk was doing in terms of providing education and health care for the vast majority of people in the country, and they welcomed his rapprochement with China, they were nervous about the level of influence of men like Lon Nol, the police chief and now army strongman who was clearly anti-communist and pro-American. They were also bitter over the incident on August 11, 1957, when Sihanouk invited some left-wing democrats to the palace for a debate: the five who appeared met with Sihanouk but were beaten up by palace guards when the prince left the room. In 1962, Tou Samouth was betrayed, arrested, tortured at Lon Nol's house for a week, then taken to the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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