Phnom Penh Falls

On April 17, 1975, thousands of Phnom Penh residents celebrated in the streets as victorious Khmer Rouge troops entered the capitol. This joyous celebration, however, was not because the people of Phnom Penh were supporters of the Khmer Rouge; instead, they felt great relief that the five-year civil war had now come to an end. For the first several hours of that sunny morning it didn't matter which side you were on. 

Cambodia was finally at peace. This morning revealed a moment of hope. But hope quickly turned to fear as residents noticed that the Khmer Rouge troops weren't celebrating with them. Embittered and toughened after years of brutal civil war and American bombing, the Khmer Rouge marched the boulevards of Phnom Penh with icy stares carved into their faces. The troops soon began to order people to abandon their homes and leave Phnom Penh on the premise that the Americans were going to bomb the city. No exceptions were made - all residents, young and old, had to evacuate as quickly as possible.

From 1975 to 1979, an estimated 2 million people were murdered due to executions, starvation, and disease during the infamous "Killing Fields".

Fall of Phnom Penh Photo Credit: Roland Neveu | Twitter