In 1975 the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. Pol Pot, the leader of this communist movement, desired national strength and purity. To this end he instituted a program of political, economic, religious and ethnic cleansing which demanded the complete eradication of the previous culture and society. What followed was one of the most brutal revolutions in history. The cities were emptied and the entire population subjected to enforced starvation, mass execution, slave labour and unchecked disease. Doctors and other educated professionals were executed, hospitals destroyed. . . the entire fabric of society disintegrated.
The Vietnamese invaded in 1978 and installed their own communist government. This provoked a devastating international embargo that isolated the traumatized population from the international aid they so desperately needed and produced a civil war which raged until 1992. By 1989 cracks in the isolation began to appear and by 1992 international aid was starting to enter Cambodia despite chronic instability and sporadic fighting that continued until 1997.