Nuon Chea, also known as ‘Brother Number Two’, was born on 7 July 1926 in Voat Kor village, Cambodia.
In 1960, Chea was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Kampuchea Communist Party (CPK) and member of the CPK’s Standing Committee. In the role of Deputy Secretary, Chea was CPK’s second in command, as indicated by his nickname ‘Brother Number Two’, and right-hand man of CPK’s leader Pol Pot.
Between 1970 and 1975, Chea served as Vice-President of the High Military Commandment of the People’s Armed Forced for the National Liberation of Kampuchea, and head of the political leadership of the army.
On 9 October 1975, he was designated as member of the CPK’s Permanent Committee, in charge of labour, social welfare, culture, propaganda and formal education.
Between 1976 and 1979, Chea served as President of the Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea (DRK), and as DRK’s Prime Minister for a short stint between 25 September and 15 October 1976.
From 17 April 1975 to at least 6 January 1979, several killings and episodes of extreme violence were committed throughout the territory of Cambodia against civilians, including members of the Cham and Vietnamese minorities, and enemy soldiers of the defeated Khmer Republic. Notably, a significant portion of the whole Cambodian population was forcibly moved from urban to rural areas and obliged to work in agricultural sites. During this period, nearly two million Cambodians were killed or died from diseases, starvation, execution, or exhaustion from overwork.