Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist, ‘Brother Number Two’, dies at 93

PHNOM PENH, August 4 

Nuon Chea, the chief ideologist and ‘Brother Number Two’ of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, whose brutal rule in the 1970s led to the deaths of some 2 million people, died on Sunday at the age of 93, a court spokesman said.

A UN-backed court found Chea guilty of genocide and sentenced him to life in prison last year, almost four decades after the Maoist regime which oversaw Cambodia’s “Killing Fields” was overthrown.

Chea was among a small clique-led by ‘Brother Number One’, Pol Pot-of mostly French-educated communists who rose to lead a bloody revolution against a US-backed government after their country was engulfed by the Vietnam War. Pol Pot died in 1998 at the age of 73.

The extremist ideology of the 1975-79 regime sought to turn Cambodia back to “year zero” in its quest for a peasant utopia. Between 1.7 and 2.2 million people, almost a quarter of the Southeast Asian country’s population, died during its four-year rule, of starvation, torture, exhaustion or disease in labour camps or bludgeoned to death during mass executions.

Under the chaotic Khmer Rouge ideology, furthered by Chea, that could mean anyone from school teachers to children, to pregnant women and to “intellectuals” identified as such if they were wearing spectacles. On January 5, 1979, Chea ordered S-21 head Duch to kill all remaining prisoners. — Reuters