Who were the Workers Party of Kampuchea? The communist movement in Cambodia went through numerous changes from its initial birth as part of the Indochinese Communist Party, to the Khmer Rouge years and finally to the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which still govern the country today.
The current CPP trace their lineage to the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP), which was founded in June 1951. You will currently see signs throughout Cambodia celebrating 70 years of the party. There will likely be numerous events marking the event on June 28th on the country. The CPP though is no longer a counts party.
Are the CPP decedents of the Khmer Rouge?
This is a thorny question. In 1960 the KPRP held a meeting in which the party changed its name to the Workers Party of Kampuchea. (WPK), led by Tou Samouth until he was killed and replaced as leader by Pol Pot.
To read about Pol Pot click here
To read about Tou Samouth click here .
The Khmer Rouge later disavow any member who joined prior to this date, or was not a member of the Workers Party of Kampuchea. What would later become the Khmer Rouge and the communist party of Kampuchea would the trace their lineage to the 1960 Workers Party of Kampuchea.
When the Khmer Rouge were overthrown in 1979 by Vietnamese backed communists and their Cambodian allies the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP) were reborn as the governing party, disavowing andy link the Workers Party of Kampuchea, or the Communist Party of Kampuchea, although almost all had been members of both.
Who were the Workers Party of Kampuchea?
The 1960 meeting which formed the Workers party of Kampuchea is shrouded in mystery, but we know that Tou Smooth was the initial leader and that under Pol Pot it would begin the armed struggle that would lead to Democratic Kampuchea.
It was also during this time that the party start to align more with the Chinese rather than Soviet communists, with leading members visiting the People’s Republic of China. Pol Pot was particularly infatuated with Chairman Mao and Chinese communism, which would lead to the Super Great Leap Forward, or as it is more commonly known the Killing Fields.
To read about the Super Great Leap Forward click here .
Chairman Mao for his part saw Pol Pot as a kind of protege, with China’s initial backing of the Khmer Rouge and the Workers Party of Kampuchea being ideological rather than geopolitical.
To read about China’s relationship with the Khmer Rouge click here .
The end of the Workers Party of Kampuchea
By the time Sihanouk was overthrown both Pol Pot and Sihanouk were firmly in the Chinese camp. Mao helped to turn the into a a coalition against the Lon Nol regime known as the GRUNK.
At the behest of China the party changed their name to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) in 1971, so as help appeal more to the masses.
The CPK would later morph into the Party of Democratic Kampuchea in the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, before their final guise as the Cambodian National Unity Party, from where they would lead the last Khmer Rouge state.
To read about the party of Democratic Kampuchea click here .
To read about the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea click here .
To read about the Cambodian National Unity Party click here .
The final remnants of the Workers Party of Kampuchea were wound up by Ta Mok in 1998, who would remain on the run until his capture in 1999. Most Khmer Rouge rebels switched over the government in the controversial Win-Win policy.
To read about Ta Mok click here .
To read about the Win-Win Policy click here.