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In April 1975 the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh to bring an end to five years of civil war invasions and bombardment and mark the beginning of a regime that would destroy many Cambodians lives Statistics vary but by the end of their four year occupation more than one million Cambodians had perished This new regime had a vision for Cambodia This vision was to create a nation based on the Khmer race and involved building this new Cambodia on a socialist model But to what extent was this vision of Cambodia underpinned by the ideal of a class based revolution and to what extent was it based on nationalist xenophobia The policies of the Communist Party of Kampuchea were built on a feeling of inadequacy based on the grandeur of the Khmer ancestry and the more recent exploitation of the country by their colonial rulers The countrys elite whether they were rich or educated ethnic Khmer or not were seen as perpetuating this exploitation and thus seen as part of the problem The countrys rural population was mainly ethnic Khmer which suited the class based revolution It was paramount to the success of the revolution and resulting regime that the CPK had the support of the peasants thus the socialist ideals promised to the people may have just been hot air with the Khmer Rouge taking full advantage of the circumstances of the time There was one purpose of the CPKs xenophobic policy- to return Cambodia to the past glories of the Angkor civilization However there were many reasons for the distain felt towards those things foreign albeit a few were somewhat hypocritical A recent history of French Colonial rule had left the commercial sector of the economy booming the traditional manufacturing sectors dead and the agricultural sector stagnant It was seen by the CPK that the European colonial rule had distorted the economies and societies of the colonized world and left
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