The Story of Pouv and Yanthy
THE DECADE OF MADNESS
Editor's note: This is the background of the lives of Yanthy and Pouv before they became the heads of Children for Change-Cambodia
Tang and Yangthy
In the years following the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, the world met a new horror that had not been seen before, an "auto-genocide" in Cambodia. Genocide was nothing new. In the twentieth century, there were several episodes, such as non-Jews Germans killing Jews and Ottomans killing Armenians. But Cambodians killing Cambodians? This was the first, so the new term "auto-genocide" was coined.
About two million Khmers (Cambodians) were murdered by their own leaders, the Khmer Rouge (Red communist Khmer). The killing was senseless, but the rationale of the leaders was not so incomprehensible. Around 10th century, the Khmer empire was one of the most sophisticated societies on earth. The Khmer people built massive temple complexes, created intricate irrigation systems that yielded three crops of rice a year and saw one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
Angkor Wat, the world's largest temple built between 9th and 13th century
In the later centuries, the empire was in decline. Squeezed by the Thais and Vietnamese from both sides, the Khmer lost two thirds of their original territory. The once mighty kingdom then became one of the most undeveloped countries in the world.
The sharp contrast between past greatness and contemporary weakness brewed a potent mix of immense nationalistic pride and deep inferiority complex. So Pol Pot,