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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In January 1979, Vietnamese troops triumphantly entered Phnom Penh, the capital of Democratic Kampuchea ruled by the Khmer Rouge. The images they produced to justify their military offensive dwelled on the horror of the atrocities committed by the overthrown Pol Pot regime in the former torture center code-named S-21. In the framework of a split within the communist Bloc between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, this article discusses three strategies put forward by the Vietnamese propaganda machinery in which the visual imagery of the former prison played a crucial role: an intense documentary production, the atrocity-themed museum constructed on the site of S-21, and the trial for genocide held in absentia against Pol Pot and Ieng Sary. These visual strategies aimed to deprive the Khmer Rouge of their communist status by associating them with Nazis and their crimes.

Keywords: Khmer Rouge, Cambodian genocide, S-21, Tuol Sleng, film and genocide, visual propaganda, Southeast Asia

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