1. School of History, University of New South Wales.
2. This and much of the information contained in this article is based on my interviews with refugees from Cambodia in the Lumphouk and Aranyaprathet refugee camps in Thailand, and in Bangkok, December 1975 to February 1976. Also in Sidney and Melbourne, July 1976. I am grateful to Denis Gray for kindly allowing to read the Associated Press (AP) files on Cambodia in Bangkok, in early 1976. More detailed citations can be obtained from the editor, Australian Outlook.
3. Interviews with Peang Sophi, a Khmer refugee in Melbourne, 5/7/76 and 10/7/76. See "The Early Phases of Liberation in Northwestern Cambodia: Conversations with Peang Sophi", by David P. Chandler (with Ben Kiernan and Muy Hong Lim). Monash University, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Working Paper No.II, forthcoming.
4. See my "Cambodia in the News", Melbourne Journal of Politics, 1975-76. vol. 8, pp. 6-12.
5. Landholding patterns in Cambodia's northwest provinces stem from their transfer to France in 1907, after over a century of Thai rule. Wartime ramifications of the unstrategic nature of these border provinces are discussed below.
6. Personal communication from Sam Adams, former Cambodia analyst for the United States CIA, 26/9/76. The US government's "official" figure for the size of the Khmer Rouge movement in 1973 was 60,000 and 70,000 in 1975. According to Adams, these figures are "obviously absurd Like all other numbers coming out of Indochina, they were tampered with so often that they are totally untrustworthy." Adams' figure of 200,000 includes local guerrilla forces, not all of whom were well armed..
Phnom Penh Radio, 9/5/75. Between March
and August 1973, the tonnage of American bombs dropped on Cambodia
exceeded by 50 per cent the tonnage of conventional explosives
dropped on Japan during World War 2..
See for example the Bangkok Post report,
Peter Dalkin, personal communication, 6/2/76. Refugees interviewed in Phnom Penh in mid-1974 told of Khmer Rouge brutality near Takeo; they said they were forced to begin building "a new capital," and that they were told that the old one, Phnom Penh, would be destroyed. This is most unlikely to have been a policy of the revolutionary leadership; it is possible that the "Khmer Rouge" involved were actually Khmer Khieu.
10. Washington Post, 8/3/74.
11. M. Vickery, personal communication,4/2/76.
12. Bangkok Post, 25/6/75 and 23/7/75, and also Peang Sophi, op. cit.
13. Ith Sarin, Regrets of the Khmer Soul, Phnom Penh, 1973, ch. 3.
14. See my The Samlaut Rebellion and its Aftermath: The Origins of Cambodia's Liberation Movements, Parts I and 2, Monash, CSEAS, 1975.
15. Interview with Lt. Samay, Bangkok, 26/1/76.
16. F. Ponchaud, "Le Kampuchea Démocratique: une Révolution radicale", Echange France-Asie, Dossier No. 17, May 1976, p. 9.
17. Michael Vickery, "Cambodia 1976: The Present Situation and its Background", unpublished, p. 48. Henri Becker, personal communication, Bangkok, February 1976.
18. In all parts of Cambodia apart from the northwest, by 1975, the "Sihanoukists seem to have been outmanoeuvred by the revolutionaries and were no longer a significant political group in the rural areas. According to one Cambodian familiar with the Khmer Rouge movement, the revolutionaries were more dedicated and hardworking and appealed to the peasants more than the Sihanoukists, who were sometimes arrogant or condescending and who usually came from wealthy backgrounds. Interviews with Ream Yossar, Phnom Penh, February 1975.
19. Ith Sarin, op. cit., ch. 5.
20. Bangkok Post, 16/4/75.
21. The Australian, 23/5/75.
22. Development News Digest, August 1976.
23. Western and Thai journalists I talked to in Bangkok, who have taken a close interest in Cambodian events, concur with this, as do American officials I spoke to at the refugee camps. See, for instance, Thai journalists report in Chaturath, 11 / 11 /75.
24. Peang Sophi, op. cit.
25. Le Monde, 28/9/76.
26. "Cambodge libéré", Echange France-Asie, No 13, Jan. 1976, p. 13.
27. Phnom Penh Radio, 14/5/75.
28. Khieu Samphan, L'Economie du Cambodge et ses problèmes industriels, Paris, 1959 . For a summary/translation of this thesis, see Indochina Chronicle, no 51-52, Sept.-Nov. 1976.
29. See Laura Summers' summary of Hou Yuon's La paysannerie du Cambodge et ses projets de modernisation, Paris, 1955, in Indochina Chronicle No. 17, July 1972.
30. Ith Sarin, op. cit., ch. 4.
31. D. G. Porter and G. C. Hildebrand, The Politics of Food: Starvation and Agricultural Revolution in Cambodia, Indochina Resource Centre, Washington, September 1975, p. 7.
32. Former Prime Minister of the Lon Nol regime, Long Boret, quoted in the New York Times, 9/5/75.
33. Phnom Penh radio (23/5/75 and 2/8/75) noted that during the war some people "abandoned their village and farms and fled to Phnom Penh and elsewhere. Now, immediately after the liberation of Phnom Penh, those people have returned to their native villages, where they are working peacefully with the help of our Revolutionary Army Members" "They have met up with and be reunited with their family members." Corroboration from this comes from many refugees. See Bangkok Post, 1/7/75, and New York Times, 15/7/75.
34. Interview at Surin, 19/1/76.
35. The province is underpopulated and has rich agricultural potential. See Jean Delvert, Le Paysan cambodgien, Paris, Mouton, 1961, p. 634-5.
36. Interview with Lin Chi Pou, Bangkok, 22/1/76.
37. Porter and Hildebrand, op. cit., Part 3.
38. A study by the Office of Credit in 1952 showed that 75 per cent of Cambodia's farmers were in debt. Le Figaro, 2/7/70.
39. Delvert, op. cit., p. 639, shows that in Battambang 25 per cent to 40 per cent of peasants owned more than 5 hectares, "which is quite exceptional in Cambodia," and that they were "an important number of larger absentee landlords" owning more than 20 hectares. A high proportion (23 per cent) owned less than 1 hectare, which is insufficient to support them. These "small landholders," and alongside them a rather large proportion of landless tenants (perhaps 30 per cent), had to rent land.
40. Indochina Chronicle, No. 17, op. cit.
41. One refugee I spoke to came from the village of Tahen in Battambang province. During the war, 140 of the 200-300 people in Tahen went into the forest to join a Khmer Rouge band led by a landless peasant.
42. M. Vickery, personal communication, 4/2/76. See also "Rich Men Killed," in the Australian, 28/4/75.
43. Bangkok Post, 5/5/76.
44. Chu Vuth, personal communication. Similar reports of life in the Khmer Rouge zones during the war came from relatives of Boua Chanthou.
45. See L. Summers' article in Indochina Chronicle No. 17, op. cit.
46. Steve Heder, former Time correspondent in Phnom Penh, in an interview on the ABC Radio program Lateline, 9/8/76.
47. Sam Adams, op. cit.
48. Donald Kirk, "The Khmer Rouge: Revolutionaries or Terrorists", in J. Zasloff and A. Goodman (eds.), Communism in Indochina, Massachusetts, 1975..
49. Michael Vickery, op. cit., p. 49.
50. Bangkok Post, 15/8/75. A recent analysis of the situation in Cambodia (Far Eastern Economic Review, 29/10/76) mentions a prediction by Washington at the end of the war that 1 million Khmers could die of starvation. With improved conditions in Cambodia and increased central control over the countryside. by mid-1976 the violence had virtually ended and the number of refugees fleeing to Thailand had dropped considerably. See also Le Monde, 28/9/76.