|802 AD||Kingdom of Angkor is established.
Angkor Empire covers most of southeast Asia and is known for its beautiful
temples and sculpture.
| Angkor declines due to warfare and loses territory to the
Thais and the Vietnamese.
Cambodian King Norodom reluctantly signs a treaty of protectorate with
the French, which lasts until 1953.
The movement for independence from foreign imperialism in Southeast Asia
begins. Ho Chi Minh founds the Indochinese Communist Party.
The French establish nineteen-year-old Prince Norodom Sihanouk as king.
The Japanese occupy Cambodia during World War II.
The war for independence in Vietnam begins as Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh army
fights the French. Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) goes to study in France.
Sihanouk wins Cambodia's independence from France.
Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) becomes leader of Cambodia's Communist Party.
US troops arrive in Vietnam. Sihanouk ends diplomatic relations with the
Cambodia loses tax revenues on rice that is smuggled into Vietnam during
the war. Sihanouk increases the tax on remaining rice supplies, which spurs a
peasant uprising and the armed communist revolution. Communists seek to
eliminate widespread rural poverty and the corrupt ruling elite.
President Nixon begins an illegal secret bombing of neutral Cambodia that
continues until August 1973 when US Congress stops the Pentagon.
|Mar. 1970 ||General Lon Nol, with US backing, deposes King Sihanouk. Sihanouk
sets up a government-in-exile in Beijing and forms an alliance with the Khmer
Rouge, a faction of the Cambodian communist party led by Pol Pot.
|Apr. 1970 ||US and South Vietnamese forces invade Cambodia in an effort to
destroy the Viet Cong, withdraw two months later.
|The Khmer Rouge fight the Lon Nol government and gradually take
over the rural areas. The Khmer Rouge is seen as the alternative to US bombing
and government corruption, and has the support of King Sihanouk. Two million
rural residents flee to the cities to escape the war and bombing.
|April 17, 1975 ||The Khmer Rouge marches into Phnom Penh, the Lon Nol government
surrenders, and the last vestiges of American support are withdrawn.
|The Khmer Rouge declares "Year Zero" and proceeds to transform
Cambodian society by establishing Maoist, peasant- run, rural cooperatives.
City residents are evacuated and the entire population is forced into slave
labor: farming rice, digging irrigation canals, and building dams. "Enemies
within" are purged from the new society to eliminate all traces of foreign
influence. The rich, the educated, former government employees, Buddhist monks,
ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, and Cham are systematically massacred in an act of
genocide. An estimated two million people die from torture, execution,
starvation, or disease. Other than aid from China, Cambodia is cut off from the
The Khmer Rouge announces that Pol Pot is prime minister of Democratic
Kampuchea. Kampuchea is the ancient name for Cambodia.
The Khmer Rouge instigates border clashes with Vietnam and Thailand. Hun
Sen and other disenchanted Khmer Rouge officers escape to Vietnam.
|Dec. 1978 ||The National Salvation Front, consisting of Cambodians and 120,000
Vietnamese soldiers, invades Cambodia from Vietnam. Khmer Rouge soldiers escape
|Jan. 1979 ||The Vietnamese install a new communist government led by Cambodians
Hun Sen and Heng Samrin. The Thais and Chinese secretly agree to arm and
support the Khmer Rouge in a guerrilla war against the new government.
The country is in turmoil as people walk home from their assigned work
camps and search the country for their lost family members. Hunger is
widespread. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians flee to Thai refugee camps.
The United States imposes an international trade embargo and blocks development
assistance. The Khmer Rouge is voted, with US support, Cambodia's official
representative in the United Nations.
The three rebel groups opposed to the new Vietnamese-backed Cambodian
government form a resistance coalition. By the late 1980s FUNCINPEC, the
royalist group loyal to King Sihanouk, has 12,000 soldiers; Khmer People's
National Liberation Front (KPNLF), the non-communist former Lon Nol group, has
8,000; and the Khmer Rouge, the communist group, has 40,000.
Vietnamese troops and the Cambodian army attack the resistance coalition
camps in Cambodia and push them into Thailand.
The Khmer Rouge-led resistance coalition shells towns, plants landmines,
attacks road transport, kidnaps village chiefs, and kills local administrators
and school teachers. Cambodia is the only Third World country denied United
Nations development aid.
Suffering from internal economic problems, the Soviets cut off aid to
Vietnam, causing Vietnam to withdraw its troops from Cambodia. The resistance
coalition launches a series of military offensives, displacing tens of thousands
of civilians within Cambodia.
|July 1990 ||With the Soviet threat gone, the United States withdraws its
support for the resistance coalition and initiates diplomatic contact with
Vietnam and Cambodia.
|Oct. 1991 ||A
peace plan agreed upon by the UN Security Council is signed by the Vietnamese-
backed Cambodian government and the three resistance coalition members (Khmer
Rouge, Lon Nolists, and royalists). The United Nations Transitional Authority
in Cambodia (UNTAC) is established to disarm rebel factions, repatriate
refugees, and administer democratic elections.
The Khmer Rouge refuses to disarm or cooperate with UNTAC. The Khmer
Rouge controls about fifteen percent of Cambodia and profits from the sale of
Cambodian timber and gems through Thailand. Buddhist monks, nuns, and lay
people support the peace process and organize the first annual Dhamma Yietra
(peace walk) led by Maha Ghosananda. The United States lifts its trade embargo.
|Mar. 1993 ||To gain popular support, the Khmer Rouge massacres ethnic
Vietnamese living in Cambodia. Twenty thousand ethnic Vietnamese flee to
National elections are held and eighty-five percent of eligible Cambodians
vote. The Khmer Rouge refuse to participate. A coalition government is formed
between FUNCINPEC (the royalists) who won 45% of the vote and the Cambodian
People's Party (the former Vietnamese-backed Cambodian government) who won 38%.
Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh, King Sihanouk's son, become Co-Prime Ministers.
A new constitution is adopted and the Royal Government of Cambodia is
established, with King Sihanouk as head of state. Cambodia is re-admitted to the
international community. The Khmer Rouge, under the direction of Pol Pot,
continues to wage war against the government.
The Cambodian government outlaws the Khmer Rouge. US Congress passes the
Genocide Investigation Act to document the killings by the Khmer regime.
The fifth annual Dhamma Yietra (peace walk) is led by Buddhist monk Maha
Ghosananda, as the fighting continues. Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary is granted
a royal pardon and many Khmer Rouge troops defect.
Second Co-Prime Minister Hun Sen ousts First Co-Prime Minister Ranariddh
in a coup. The United States cuts aid to Cambodia.
Pot kills his military chief Son Sen. The Khmer Rouge holds a trial of Pol Pot
and places him under house arrest. The United States tries to extradite Pol
Pot, but he dies the day before he is to be handed over. The Khmer Rouge
weakens as thousands of soldiers defect. Cambodia holds a national election and
Hun Sen is elected Prime Minister.
Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea declare that the Khmer
Rouge doesn't exist and are allowed to re-enter Cambodian society. Ta Mok
(a.k.a. the Butcher) and Duch are placed in custody and charged with genocide.
Hun Sen is re-elected Prime Minister. His government is accused of corruption and suppression of political dissent.
After seven years of negotiations, the United Nations and the government of Cambodia reach an agreement on the International Tribunal to bring the top leaders of the Khmer Rouge to trial for crimes against humanity.
The garment industry accounts for 80% of Cambodia's exports, two-thirds are sold to the US and support one in five Cambodians. Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, and Khiue Samphan are arrested and charged with mass murder.
The US trade policy that helped create Cambodia's garment industry by giving preferential access to US markets in exchange for high labor standards ends. The genocide trial begins.