Cambodia Timeline

  • French Colonial Rule

    Cambodia becomes a protectorate of France and part of French Indo-china. French colonial rule lasted for 90 years
  • New King

    Prince Norodom Sihanouk becomes king. Cambodia is occupied by Japan during World War II.
  • The Japanese occupation ends

    The Japanese occupation ends.
  • No more France

    France re-imposes its protectorate. A new constitution permits Cambodians to form political parties. Communist guerrillas begin an armed campaign against the French.
  • Independance

    Cambodia wins its independence from France. Under King Sihanouk, it becomes the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • Independance

    Cambodia gains independence from France after 90 years of French rule. King Sihanouk becomes the ruler of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • Beginnings of the Khmer Rouge

    Sihanouk's father dies. Sihanouk becomes head of state. The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) is formed out of the growing opposition to the rule of King Sihanouk. King Sihanouk nicknames the CPK “Red Khmer” (“Khmer Rouge” in French) as a sign he does not take the group seriously.
  • Armed Rebellion

    Leaders of the Khmer Rouge flee their home base of Phnom Penh and begin an armed rebellion.
  • .

    Sihanouk breaks off relations with the US and allows North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up bases in Cambodia in pursuance of their campaign against the US-backed government in South Vietnam.
  • Secret Campaign

    The US begins a secret bombing campaign against North Vietnamese forces on Cambodian soil.
  • re-named Kampuchea

    After years of civil war, Khmer Rouge forces seize Phnom Penh and establish their regime. They drive city-dwellers into the countryside in an attempt to create an agrarian, communist utopia. Brutal persecution of intellectuals, religious figures and ethnic minorities begins. The Khmer Rouge bans family relationships and begins an aggressive campaign of brainwashing young children to worship the state and spy on their parents. If parents try to disguise themselves as uneducated peasants, children
  • The Face of Angka

    For the first two years of Khmer Rouge rule, most Cambodians have no idea who is running the country. The Khmer Rouge leaders, collectively known to the people as Angka, believe that secrecy is the best way to control the population. Angka pulls back the curtain in September 1977, when Saloth Sar, known as “Pol Pot,” introduces himself in a national radio broadcast.
  • President Carter Makes a Declaration

    U.S. president Jimmy Carter declares the Khmer Rouge “the worst violator of human rights in the world.”
  • People's Republic of Kampuchea

    After the fall of Phnom Penh, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) is established with Vietnamese support. The Khmer Rouge’s campaign to create a classless society and the resulting executions of intellectuals, artists and other educated people make rebuilding difficult.
  • Fall of Khmer Rouge

    Vietnamese forces take Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge regime falls. Pol Pot continues to lead the Khmer Rouge as an insurgent movement until 1997. It is estimated that somewhere from 1.2 to 1.7 million people died because of starvation or execution while the Khmer Rouge was in power.
  • The Paris Conference

    Following the first Paris conference on Cambodia, Vietnamese troops withdraw from the country and the Khmer Rouge attempts to regain power.
  • The Paris Peace Agreement

    The Paris Peace Agreement is signed by the four opposing factions vying for power. The Khmer Rouge is forced to sign, but refuses to abide by its provisions.
  • Coaltion Government

    General elections result in the FUNCINPEC Party and the Cambodian People’s Party forming a coalition government
  • Khmer Rouge Outlawed

    The Cambodian National Assembly votes to outlaw the Khmer Rouge.
  • Pol Pot Arrested

    Pol Pot is arrested by one of his colleagues after in-fighting within the Khmer Rouge. He is sentenced to house arrest.
  • Pol Pot dies

    Pol Pot dies. Nuon Chea ("Brother Number Two") surrenders and is then allowed to live as a private citizen in Pailin province, Cambodia.
  • UN Tribunal Recommendations

    The “Report of the Group of Experts for Cambodia Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 52/125” is published by a U.N. group charged with determining the feasibility of trying Khmer Rouge leaders. The report recommends the creation of an international tribunal and truth commission to charge and try Khmer Rouge leaders for their crimes.
  • Duch of the S-21 Prison Arrested

    Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, prison chief at the notorious S-21 prison, where an estimated 17,000 people were questioned, tortured and killed, is charged with murder and membership in an outlawed group under the 1994 Cambodian law banning the Khmer Rouge.
  • Ta Mok Arrested

    Ta Mok, the man who originally placed Pol Pot under house arrest, is himself arrested by Cambodian officials. He was notorious during the Khmer Rouge years, when he earned the nickname “the Butcher.”
  • Approval of Tribunal Legislation

    The Cambodian Senate, National Assembly and Constitutional Council all approve the Khmer Rouge tribunal legislation and King Sihanouk signs it into law, despite some reservations on the part of the United Nations.
  • Ke Pauk Dies

    Former Khmer Rouge commander Ke Pauk dies.
  • Ta Mok Charged

    Cambodian prosecutors charge former Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok with crimes against humanity