April 17, 1975—the Khmer Rouge enter Phnom Penh.
During the early morning hours of April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge, a Cambodian nationalist and communist militia, entered and took control of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge were initially welcomed into the city, with their victory lauded as the end of the Cambodian Civil War. However, over the days that followed Khmer Rouge soldiers began forcing the population of the city (almost two million people) to evacuate, and killed anybody who wouldn’t or couldn’t comply.
The fall and evacuation of Phnom Penh marked the start of Democratic Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge state, as well as the start of the Cambodian genocide. Through mass-killings, starvation, and overwork at labor camps, 1.7 million of Cambodia’s population of eight million died between 1975 and 1979.
Image #1: Khmer Rouge soldiers entering Phnom Penh on the morning of April 17, 1975.
Image #2: Khmer Rouge soldiers with guns.
Image #3-4: Victims of the Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh. Of the estimated 17,000 people held prisoner at Tuol Sleng, only twelve were known to have survived.
Image #5: Excavations at the Choeung Ek killing field, where prisoners from Tuol Sleng were executed and buried in mass graves. Choeung Ek has been converted into a genocide memorial, and most of the bones are housed in a stupa on field grounds.