The Khmer Rouge was the ruling political party of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
The term "Khmer Rouge," meaning "Red Khmer" in French, was coined by Cambodian head of state Norodom Sihanouk and was later adopted in English speakers. It was used to refer to a succession of Communist parties in Cambodia which evolved into the Communist Party of Kampuchea and later the Party of Democratic Kampuchea. The organization was also known as the Khmer Communist Party and the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea.
The Khmer Rouge is remembered mainly for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million people (estimates range from 850 000 to 3 million) under its regime, through execution, starvation and forced labor. Following their leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge imposed an extreme form of social engineering on Cambodian society -- a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects. In terms of the number of people killed as a proportion of the population (estimation of 7.5 million people, as of 1975), it was one of the most lethal regimes of the 20th century. One of their mottos, in reference to the New People, was: "To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss."
After four years of rule, the Khmer Rouge regime was removed from power in 1979 as a result of an invasion by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It survived into the 1990s as a resistance movement operating in western Cambodia from bases in Thailand. In 1996, following a peace agreement, their leader Pol Pot formally dissolved the organization. Pol Pot died April 15, 1998, never having been put on trial