Cambodia - Chronology of Political Events

Vietnamese emperor Gia Long grants French privileges in Vietnam.
Vietnamese exercise control in Cambodia.
French capture Da Nang.
February 17 - French Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly captures Saigon.
June - Treaty of Saigon.
Vietnam cedes Gia Dinh to French.
French warships allowed free passage up Mekong River to Cambodia.
August - French force Cambodian King Norodom to sign treaty.
French consul installed and Cambodia included in French Indochina.
July - Vietnamese Emperor Tu Doc dies.
August 23 - French capture Hue.
August - Vietnamese recognize French protectorate over Tonkin and Annam.
June - Treaty of Protectorate.
Vietnamese formally agree to French demands.
1885 - 1886
Rebellion against French rule.
Death of King Norodom.
March - Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) born.
Officially registered date of birth: May 19, 1928.
Birth of Heng Samrin.
September 23 - Japanese troops occupy northern Vietnam.
Anti-French group Khmer Issarak, with Thai support, founded in Bangkok by Pok Khun.
April - Nineteen-year-old Norodom Sihanouk chosen by French to be king of Cambodia.
February - Ho Chi Minh returns to Vietnam.
July 18 - French arrest two Buddhist monks for preaching nationalist sermons.
July 20 - Arrests provoke demonstrations and rioting in Phnom Penh.
Pach Chhoeun, editor of "Nagaravatta" arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.
March 9 - Japanese army units arrest French officials in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand following the fall of the Vichy government in France.
March 11 - Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai abbrogates 1884 Franco-Annamese Treaty and proclaims Vietnam an independent state.
Sihanouk comes to agreement with Japanese to be king.
April 7 - Issarak force attacks Grand Hotel in Siem Reap, housing French officer corps, leaving seven French dead.
September 2 - Ho Chi Minh declares the formation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV).
September 12 - British and French troops occupy Saigon.
September 22 - French, with forces of the 11th Colonial Infantry Regiment, released from confinement by British troops in Saigon, take over major administrative facilities, re-establishing French colonial rule.
October - British troops enter Phnom Penh.
Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh arrested and exiled to France.
Norodom Sihanouk continues as ruler.
November - French ships bombard Vietnamese section of Haiphong.
Cambodian Khmer attack Viet Minh units in Cambodia and kill Vietnamese settlers (1945 - 1946).
Cambodia's first national election.
Democratic Party, under Prince Yuthevong, comes to power.
Viet Minh army leaves Hanoi to begin guerilla war in jungle.
January - Modus Vivendi signed by French and Cambodian governments allowing resumption of French rule.
April - Prince Yuthevong dies at thirty-four.
Norodom Sihanouk ordained as a Buddhist monk.
October 1 - Mao Zedong proclaims People's Republic of China in Beijing.
Saloth Sar arrives in Paris for schooling.
January - Ieu Koeuss, leader of the radical wing of the Democratic Party, killed in grenade attack.
January 18 - China recognizes North Vietnamese regime of Ho Chi Minh.
April - Khmer National United Front organized at Hongdan, with Son Ngoc Minh named head of provisional revolutionary government.
May - Proclamation of Independence
August - Khmer People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP) established by Son Ngoc Minh and Tou Samouth, Khmer Krom (Lowland Khmer).
Part of Khmer Issarak Association movement.
June 14 - King Sihanouk dissolves National Assembly and appoints himself Prime Minister, with emergency powers.
French military increases 'pacification' campaign of moving villagers (around 100,000) into fortified hamlets.
November - Student strike in Phnom Penh and provincial towns.
January 8 - Grenade attack in classroom at the Lycee Sisowath injures two.
January 13 - King Sihanouk orders troops to surround parliament building and dissolves National Assembly.
January - French claim 115 Issaraks and Viet Minh killed, 220 taken prisoner, in clashes with government troops.
March - Vietnamese invasion of Upper Laos.
June 27 - Khmer units of French army, with Sihanouk's encouragement, begin deserting.
Sunday, June 28 - King Sihanouk calls for nationwide mobilization for Cambodian independence.
'Assassination Committee' formed.
Grenade attacks in dance-halls and cinemas kill twenty-four French over several weeks.
October 17 - Paris announces the transfer of military powers to Cambodian government.
November 9 - Cambodian Independence Day -
King Sihanouk accepts symbols of rule at joint French Cambodian parade.
Name of Cambodia becomes the Kingdom of Cambodia.
April 12 - Viet Minh attack on railway line to Battambang kills over 100.
April 28 - Peace talks open in Geneva, Switzerland.
May 6 - French army at Dien Bien Phu surrenders to Viet Minh.
Geneva Conference - Independence of Cambodia recognized by international agreement.
October 18 - Last Khmer Viet Minh units leave Cambodia for Vietnam.
Sihanouk forms Sangkum Reastr Nyum (People's Socialist Community) party.
March 2 - King Sihanouk abdicates in favor of his father, Surmarit.
Former King Sihanouk becomes known as Prince Sihanouk.
Spring - Fall - Campaign of intimidation, including assassinations and arrests, leading up to national elections.
Sunday, September 10 - National elections.
Sangkum party wins every seat in the National Assembly elections.
November - December - Vietnamese apparently reach agreement with Sihanouk to avoid conflict.
February - Prince Sihanouk visits China.
August - Prince Sihanouk subjects leaders of Democratic Party to public humiliation at "debate."
Leaders beaten following meeting and government soldiers from Phnom Penh garrison begin two-day rampage in capital.
January 20 - Ex-Minister Sam Sary flees to Thailand.
Later murdered during visit to Laos.
February 22 - Military Chief-of-Staff Lon Nol suppresses revolt and orders arrest of Dap Chhuon at Siem Reap.
Chhuon and officers killed.
August 30 - Sihanouk survives assassination attempt when bomb kills palace chamberlain and two others.
October 9 - Editor Nop Bophann shot by members of security police after leaving office.
Spring - Estimated 2,000 being detained in camp near Phnom Penh.
Military Tribunal hands out twenty-nine death sentences.
April - Death of King Suramarit.
Constitutional amendment makes Sihanouk Head of State for Life.
January 10 - Twelve members of Pracheachon accused of participation in "plot" against government and arrested.
January 12 - Non Suon and Chou Chet arrested.
Later Non Suon and others condemned to death by Military Tribunal. Sentences commuted to life in February 1963.
July - Murder of Communist Party Secretary Tou Samouth, founding member of KPRP.
Saloth Sar becomes Party leader.
February 24-26 - Student rioters in Siem Reap take over city.
March 1 - Sihanouk orders troops in to restore order in Siem Reap.
November 1 - Ngo Dinh Diem overthrown in military coup in Vietnam.
November 2 - Diem and brother Nhu killed.
Prince Sihanouk announces rejection of all future US military and economic aid.
Sihanouk nationalizes banks, insurance companies, and import-export businesses.
May - Cambodia cuts diplomatic ties with the U.S..
September 11 - Parliamentary elections.
September - October 25 - Third Plenum -
Pol Pot changes party name from "Workers' Party" to "Communist Party of Kampuchea" (CPK).
Decision to move headquarters to Ratanakari.
October 18 - Lon Nol selected as Prime Minister.
December - North-West Commander Ruos Nhim steps up military campaign against Lon Nol's secret police and soldiers.
Government responds by sending more troops into the region.
Viet Cong purchases of Cambodian rice during 1966 account for 60 percent of production, causing government revenues to fall.
June - Government forces kill hundreds in punitive raids following end of unrest.
January - February - Government resorts to forced requisitioning to make up shortfall in rice collections.
Mid-February - Government troops and locals clash at Pailin, near the Thai border.
Three city officials hacked to death by anti-government demonstrators at Battambang.
April 2 - Two soldiers killed by villagers in Samlaut; nearby village attacked.
Government troops, responding to unrest, kill nineteen and capture 200 by the end of the month.
Lon Nol resigns as Prime Minister at end of month.
December - CPK finalizes plans for a general uprising.
January 18 - Uprising begins with dawn raid on army post at Bay Damran.
Rebel attack beaten back with two killed.
Three soldiers killed in attack on Army outpost at Thvak one week later.
Lon Nol brought back by Sihanouk.
February - Army begins campaign of forcibly resettling rebel-held villages.
Air force bombs rebel-held areas.
February 25 - Series of attacks in South-West District, organized by Mang, South-West Zone Secretary.
Fall - Special Branch agents conduct raids and arrest suspected communists in Pnomh Penh.
Suspects later executed.
Provincial military governor in Ratanakiri province undertakes suppression campaign involving resettlement of montagnards.
Government offers bounties for rebel heads.
Rebel prisoners publicly executed by firing squad.
December - Lon Nol named acting Prime Minister.
March - President Nixon orders the bombing of Viet Cong sanctuaries in Cambodia.
March 18 - Start of Operation Menu.
U.S. begins B-52 carpet bombing campaign in effort to stop North Vietnamese use of Cambodia as a sanctuary and as a supply route into South Vietnam.
3,000 sorties flown in first twelve months.
Campaign will involve over 3,600 hundred secret missions through 1973.
August - Lon Nol becomes Prime Minister.
January 6 - Sihanhouk leaves for France.
March 9 - Student demonstrators at the National Assembly demand that Viet Cong withdraw from Cambodia.
March 11 - Demonstrators sack embassies of both South and North Vietnam.
March 13 - Sihanouk leaves Paris for Moscow, rather than returning to Cambodia.
March 17 - Lon Nol, pressured by Sihanouk's cousin Prince Sisowath Matak, signs decree ousting Prince Sihanouk.
Government forces stationed at parliament building; airports closed.
March 18 - National Assembly votes that Prince Sihanouk relinquish office.
Name of Cambodia changed to Khmer Republic.
March 23 Prince Sihanouk announces the establishment of the National United Front of Kampuchea (FUNK) from exile in Beijing, China.
March 26 - Phnom Penh mob attacks governor's mansion and courthouse.
Troops kill 60 at Skoun and 200 at Takeo and Prey Vang protests.
March 29 - 40,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units in Cambodia attack Lon Nol's forces in anticipation of Lon Nol's entry on the American side.
April 10 - Government forces massacre Vietnamese villagers residing in Cambodia.
400 killed near Neak Luong; 3,000 shot north of Phnom Penh.
April 20 - Viet Cong offensive stopped fifteen miles short of Phnom Penh.
President Nixon authorizes a 'limited incursion' into Cambodia, with 30,000 Americans and 40,000 South Vietnamese troops.
Incursion disperses North Vietnamese throughout Cambodian.
May 5 - Cambodian Royal Government of National Union (GRUNC) announced.
May - Government institutes policy of mass deportation of Vietnamese.
250,000 Vietnamese living in Cambodia will be forced out within a year.
June - U.S. forces pull out.
July - Saloth Sar takes name of Pol (Pot).
July 27 - U.S. resumes B-52 campaign against Cambodia.
October 9 - Lon Nol holds ceremony abolishing monarchy.
Khmer Republic begins.
Vietnamese units pull out of Cambodia.
Son Ngoc Minh, founding member of KPRP, dies.
May - Central Committee meeting.
Khmer Rouge army reaches 35,000.
Guerilla troop strength at 100,000.
January 27 - Paris peace accords signed.
February 9 - US resumes bombing campaign in Cambodia.
257,000 tons of bombs dropped during next six months.
U.S. Congress orders a halt to Cambodian bombing.
540,000 tons of bombs dropped in Cambodia during entire campaign.
Bombing campaign increases membership in CPK.
May 20 - CPK institutes new peasant collectivization campaign.
Summer - Khmer force of 20,000 - 25,000 moves against Phnom Penh.
August - Bombing campaign ends.
August 12 - Cambodian government forces abandon road junction at Skoun.
Sunday, March 3 - City of Oudong attacked.
When Oudong falls after three-week siege, several thousand massacred.
June - Oudong recaptured by government forces.
September - October - Central Committee meeting at Meakk.
CPK decides that Phnom Penh and other towns will be evacuated, once captured.
January - Khmer Rouge begin final offensive against Phnom Penh.
January 26 - Last river convoy gets through to Phnom Penh.
February 5 - Khmer Rouge block Mekong River.
February 25 - Oudong recaptured by Khmer Northern Zone troops.
April 1 - Neak Leung falls to CPK troops.
Lon Nol leaves for the United States.
April - CPK troops capture Battambang.
April 10 - 800 US personnel flown out of Phnom Penh to Thailand.
April 17 - Khmer Rouge forces enter Phnom Penh, after defeating troops of Lon Nol.
Khmer Rouge establish government called Democratic Kampuchea (DK).
Sporadic killing of ex-soldiers, Lon Nol officials, and civilians. Estimated 1,000 killed.
Entire population of Phnom Penh, estimated at 1.8 million, evacuated.
April 18 - Fall of port city of Kompong Som.
April 19 - Pol Pot proposes "Build and Defend" policy to CPK Central Committee.
CPK organizes evacuation of Phnom Penh and other major cities throughout Cambodia.
May 12 - CPK navy seizes U.S. supply ship "Mayaguez."
May 16-18 - Koh Kong Island, across from Phnom Penh, cleared by Khmer forces.
May 20 - Meeting held in the old sports center in Phnom Penh. Orders issued to execute former members of the Lon Nol government.
Santebal (Special Branch), under Kaing Khek Iev, (revolutionary name Deuch), sets up headquarters, "S-21" in Phnom Penh.
June 21 - Pol Pot meets with Mao.
Chinese begin supplying aid to Cambodia.
July 22 - Regional military forces re-organized into Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea.
July - September - 150,000 Vietnamese living in Cambodia forcibly returned to Vietnam.
January - S-21 moves to Takhmau, on the southern end of Phnom Penh.
January 5 - Constitution proclaimed for Democratic Kampuchea.
CPK Central Committee approves abolition of money.
February 25 - Siemreap city, capital of Autonomous Region 106, hit by two waves of 500 pound bombs.
March 20 - Elections held.
April 2 - Grenade explosion occurs behind royal palace.
April 4 - Norodom Sihanouk resigns as head of state.
April 11 - Local officials arrest fifty-seven Arabs, Pakistanis, and Indians, later killed in Phnom Penh.
Beginning of campaign against Muslim Chams.
April 14 - Pol Pot named prime minister.
April 17 - Khieu Samphan replaces Sihanouk as "Chairman of the State Presidium."
Pol Pot proposes "Super Great Leap," modeled after Mao's Great Leap Forward.
May 19 - Chan Chakrey, army deputy chief of staff, arrested.
Santebal chief Deuch reports discovery of a large "espionage" organization.
June - Santebal moves operations to Tuol Sleng.
August 28 - Suas Nau (Chhouk) arrested.
September 20 - Former Northeast Zone secretary Ney Sarann arrested.
December - 1,622 prisoners sent to Tuol Sleng during the 1976.
February - Ket Chau, head of Pol Pot's personal office arrested.
March - April - Region 106 rebellion.
Population revolts against central government.
March - Cambodian forces raid Vietnamese territory.
July 1 - 114 women killed in Tuol Sleng.
October 15 - Santebal executes 418 prisoners in Tuol Sleng.
6,330 prisoners killed in Tuol Sleng during 1977.
September - November - Cambodian attacks into Vietnam kill or wound over 1,000.
September 24 - Tay Ninh massacre -
Cambodian forces enter Vietnam's Tay Ninh province and kill three hundred civilians in villages in Tan Bien and Ben Cau districts.
June - December - Thai troops kill 1,000 Cambodian refugees after entering Thailand.
December 31 - Diplomatic relations with Vietnam severed by Democratic Kampuchea.
January 6 - Pol Pot, during visit to the Eastern Zone, urges Cambodians to attack Vietnamese.
February 5 - Vietnam calls for negotiations and a mutual pullback of forces from the border.
January - February - CPK evacuates border regions in preparation for conflict.
30,000 moved from Svay Rieng province.
37,000 moved from Kampot.
March 14 - DK troops kill 100 peasants during raid in Ha Tien province of Vietnam.
March - Planned military coup in Western Zone broken up when leaders arrested.
March - April - Center moves against suspect units in the Eastern Zone.
Cadres arrested and sent to Tuol Sleng.
May - Commanders and commissars in Eastern Zone arrested and/or executed.
May 25-29 - Two divisions of Ke Pauk's Central Zone troops battle rebel troops near Suong.
May 27 - So Phim and Heng Samrin meet with Eastern Zone force commanders to plan resistance.
June 1 - Rebel troops battle Pauk's forces along Highway 7.
Center and Southwest Zone troops, under Son Sen, and Central Zone troops, under Pauk, encounter resistance near Prey Veng.
June 2 - Villagers of Babong behead two Khmer Rouge during riot.
Villagers at Chamcar Kuoy behead village chief and four others.
June 3 - So Phim commits suicide as units close in to arrest him.
June - Vietnamese refugees fleeing Cambodian attacks total 750,000.
June - December - Evacuation of Eastern Zone.
Government deports population of Eastern Zone. Hundreds of thousands killed.
August - Northern Zone secretary Kang Chap arrested.
September 16-20 - Southwest security forces massacre 930 people on Highway 1.
November - Deputy Prime Minister Vorn Vet arrested.
400,000 Cambodian refugees living in Vietnam.
100,000 Cambodian refugees living in Thailand.
December 2 - United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea formed at meeting in Kratie.
Heng Samrin chosen to lead.
December 25 - Vietnam invades Cambodia.
Force of 150,000 Vietnamese troops and 15,000 Cambodian rebels.
December 30 - Kratie town captured by Vietnamese.
January 3 - Stung Treng captured by Vietnamese.
January 6 - Prince Sihanouk flies out of Phnom Penh for China.
January 7 - Vietnamese forces enter Phnom Penh.
Pol Pot and aides fly by helicopter to Thailand.
Vietnam establishes government under ex-Khmer Rouge leaders Hun Sen and Heng Samarin.
Estimated 1.5 million people had died from overwork and disease under the Khmer Rouge regime.
200,000 people had been executed as "class enemies."
January 21 - Foreign Ministry of Thailand announces that it will continue to recognize "Democratic Kampuchea."
Pol Pot sets up headquarters at Tasanh.
February - Chinese diplomats meet with Pol Pot.
February 17 - Chinese force of 85,000 troops invades Vietnam.
April - May - Thousands of Cambodians flee into Thailand.
May - Pol Pot crosses border into Thailand.
Deuch, former commandant of Tuol Sleng, reaches Thailand.
June - Thai army forcibly repatriates Cambodian refugees.
July - Pol Pot sets up Office 131, new headquarters, at Mount Thom.
Thai Special Forces unit (Unit 838) assigned to provide protection on Thai side.
Summer - Food shortages lead to famine in Cambodia and new exodus into Thailand.
September - Khieu Samphan sets up Patriotic Democratic Front of Grand National Union of Kampuchea (FGUNDPK).
October - 150,000 Cambodian refugees living in Thailand.
November - UN General Assembly votes to seat Democratic Kampuchea delegation.
Refuses to recognize Vietnamese-supported government.
December - Number of Cambodian refugees living in Thailand reaches 500,000.
January - Son Sen transfers Eastern Front headquarters to Paet Um, on Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos borders.
Northern Front headquarters at Kompong Thom, under Ke Pauk.
South-West Front headquarters at Mount Aurel, under Mok.
June - Khmer Rouge troop strength at 40,000.
Vietnamese forces number 180,000.
February - Sihanouk agrees to Chinese suggestion that he become Head of State.
August - Pol Pot meets with Deng Xiaoping and Premier Zhao Ziayang in Beijing.
September 4 - Sihanouk, Son Sann, and Khieu Samphan announce an agreement in Singapore to form a coalition government.
December - Communist Party of Kampuchea dissolves itself.
June 22 - Announcement of the formation of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK).
Sihanouk becomes Head of State, Son Sann, Prime Minister, and Khieu Samphan, Vice-Premier.
December - Major Vietnamese offensive destroys Khmer Rouge bases.
Pol Pot flees into Thailand.
Sets up new headquarters, K-18, guarded by Thai Special Forces unit, 838.
September - Pol Pot steps down as Commander-in-Chief.
Son Sen takes over.
September - Vietnam withdraws most of its forces from Cambodia.
November - Berlin Wall comes down.
June 26 - Cambodian political leaders reach agreement during meeting at Pattaya, in Thailand.
A new body, the Supreme National Council (SNC), will rule Cambodia until a new government is elected.
October 23 - "Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodian Conflict" signed in Paris.
January - Sihanouk leaves for China.
Cambodian national elections.
June - Control of National Assembly won by National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC).
Cambodia People's Party (CCP) comes in second.
Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) comes in third.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh becomes first prime minister, Hun Sen becomes second prime minister.
February - Khmer Rouge commander, along with men, defects to government forces.
CCP offers amnesty to others willing to defect.
August 15 - Ieng Sary, Y Chhean, and Sok Pheap announce intention to sever ties with Khmer Rouge and to cooperate with the government.
March - Hun Sen's bodyguards break up an anti-government demonstration by throwing grenades into the crowd.
Fifteen people killed.
June 9-10 - Pol Pot orders division commander, Saroeun, to kill Son Sen.
Son Sen, Yun Yat, and thirteen others killed.
June 11 - Mok leads troops in mutiny and attacks Pol Pot's camp, forcing him to flee.
July 5 - Hun Sen stages military coup.
FUNCINPEC officials executed or forced to flee.
First prime minister Norodom Ranariddh goes into exile.
Hun Sen becomes sole prime minister.
April 15 - Pol Pot dies in his sleep.
July - Hun Sen elected Prime Minister.

Suggestions for further reading.

David Chandler, "Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison," University of California Press, (Berkeley, CA 1999).

Robert Green, "Cambodia," Thomson Gale, (Farmington Hills, MI 2003).

Ben Kiernan, "The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79," Yale University Press, (New Haven, CT 1996).

Milton Osborne, "The Mekong: Turbulent past, uncertain future," Atlantic Monthly Press, (New York, NY 2000).

Philip Short, "Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare," Henry Holt and Company, LLC, (New York, NY 2004).

Molyda Szymusiak, Translated by Linda Coverdale, "The Stones Cry Out: A Cambodian Childhood 1975-1980," Hill and Wang, (New York, NY 1986).

Loung Ung, "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers," HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., (New York, NY 2000).

Eric D. Weitz, "A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation," Princeton University Press, (Princeton, NJ 2003).

Usah Welaratna, "Beyond the Killing Fields: Voices of Nine Cambodian Survivors in America," Stanford University Press, (Stanford, CA 1993).

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