5 January 1976

The Khmer Rouge announce that the new Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea is ratified.

Democratic Kampuchea refers to the official name of Cambodia under the leadership of the Khmer Rouge regime, which ruled the country from 1975 to 1979. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, aimed to establish a radical communist society by transforming Cambodia into an agrarian, classless society. During this period, the Khmer Rouge implemented extreme policies that resulted in widespread atrocities and human rights abuses.

The regime forcibly evacuated urban areas, abolished private property, and targeted perceived political enemies, intellectuals, professionals, and those associated with the previous government. The Khmer Rouge’s brutal policies led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 to 2 million people through execution, forced labor, starvation, and disease. The infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, formerly a high school turned into a prison and torture center by the Khmer Rouge, stands as a haunting reminder of this dark period in Cambodian history.

The regime came to an end in 1979 when Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, overthrowing the Khmer Rouge and establishing the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. The atrocities committed during the Democratic Kampuchea era have had a profound and lasting impact on Cambodia’s history and society. The country has undergone significant efforts to heal and rebuild since then, including the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a tribunal to address the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime.