Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cartoonist Sacrava's Self Portrait, Hope and Vision

Cartoonist Sacrava's Self Portrait, Hope and Vision

One for All & All for One

When I was young I knew that I could draw for fun , after training for 10 years in Fine Arts School.... In my age now,55 yrs old by coming of next month, May, I knew I have a mission to serve Cambodia & its people...after I realized that Lord Buddha & the Universe had spared my life from the holocaust of the killing field in Cambodia.

When we all are ready.....Cambodia & its People will be freed again for sure ! One for All & All for One !

......Sometime in the near future, I would sit under a Palm Tree, drinking its juice from the bamboo's trunk....and draw Angkorwat and all of Khmer Temples that were built everywhere in Dendey Sovannaphum ! This is my last dream.

In the next decent Khmer-Government.....I'll be a dish-washer & a cartoonist with my digital pen.

I love to draw Srey-Khmer who are Angels, a thousand smiling Apsaras.They're so beautiful to show the world of their charming & magic in the myth of Khmer Race.......

Bun H.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Vietnam and Cambodian Communism

Communist Vietnamese-Lao-Khmer meeting (Photo: KR Trial Web Portal)

Stephen J. MORRIS in Public Forum on Khmer Rouge History From
stalin to Pol Pot-Towards a Description of
the khmer Rouge Regime 25-26 january 2007 Sunway Hotel,
Phnom Penh (Picture by: Prim Pilot)

By Stephen J. Morris
Source: The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
Posted at Khmer Rouge Trial Web Portal

In the official mythology of the Khmers Rouges, their military victory in 1975, and the maintenance of their rule over Cambodia from 1975 until 1978 (the rule of Angka Padevat in the state of Democratic Kampuchea), was portrayed as a result of the efforts of Cambodians alone. This is the most ridiculous fantasy. Without the support of the Vietnamese and Chinese communists the regime known as Democratic Kampuchea would never have existed. Moreover, the leading Cambodian communists were deeply enmeshed in the activities of the communist world for most of their lives.

I will show how Vietnam played a vital role in the rise of the Khmers Rouges to power, and how the Vietnamese communist leaders were happy to let the Khmers Rouges do as they wished in power, so long as the regime created - Democratic Kampuchea - did not threaten or embarrass Vietnam. However the irrational belligerence of Pol Pot and his entourage in foreign policy soon became a source of concern for Hanoi, and Democratic Kampuchea's violent behaviour towards its more powerful neighbour pushed Vietnam towards a policy of armed retaliation, invasion and occupation.

The Vietnamese communists were deeply involved in the inception and formation of the Cambodian communist movement. In 1930 the agent of the Communist International (Comintem) known as Nguyen Ai Quoc -- who in 1943 changed his alias to Ho Chi Minh -- founded the Vietnamese Communist Party at a meeting held in the British colony of Hong Kong. But after filing the founding documents with his employers in Moscow, Quoc was instructed by the Comintem to change the name of the party to the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP). The Comintem argued that "Not only does Indochina have a geographic, economic and political unity, but above all we have a need for unity of struggle, for a unique direction of all of the Indochinese proletariat opposed to all the forces of reaction in Indochina, to the policy of division of French imperialism." The Comintern's intention was clear: Emancipation of the three different nations of French Indochina was to be carried out not by the independent efforts of each of the three peoples, but rather under Vietnamese Communist tutelage.

As it happened there were no revolutionary movements in Cambodia at this time. And of the 211 founding members of the Indochinese Communist Party, not a single one was from Cambodia or Laos. One finds in the Comintem archives in Moscow, Quoc's actual correspondence about this with his leaders. In September 1930 Nguyen Ai Quoc claimed to have an ICP party membership of 124, of which 120 were Chinese and 4 were Annamites [Vietnamese]. The Party controlled labor union consisted of 300 ethnic Chinese. The French suppressed the communist structures throughout Indochina in 1935, and by March 1935 there were only 9 communists in all of Cambodia. But the ethnic situation in Cambodia remained much the same throughout the 1930s. In 1938 the Cambodian branch of the ICP had a mere 16 members, all of them ethnic Chinese.

After World War II the Vietnamese communists, operating through their front organization popularly known as the Viet Minh, began their offensive against the French colonialists. However they sought to rely heavily upon ethnic Vietnamese for their efforts. Two of the most important Viet Minh leaders during the 1940s were Sieu Heng and Son Ngoc Minh, both of mixed Vietnamese and Khmer ancestry. Armed units of the Viet Minh were stationed in Battambang, where all the units were ethnic Vietnamese, and in southeast Cambodia, where again ethnic Vietnamese were predominant in the revolutionary committees.

In March 1950, at a meeting of Viet Minh and Khmer Issarak leaders held in Ha Tien, Vietnam, Nguyen Than Son, head of the Viet Minh's committee for foreign affairs in southern Vietnam, spoke of the Vietnamese emigre population in Cambodia as a "driving force destined to set off the Revolutionary Movement in Cambodia." Later he seemed to be complaining when he stated that the ICP, which controlled the Cambodian Movement, was composed of mostly Vietnamese and "did not have deep roots among the Khmer people."

In 1951 the underground ICP resurfaced as the Vietnam Workers Party, and simultaneously announced the emergence of two "fraternal" parties for Laos and Cambodia. The latter was called the Revolutionary Cambodian People's Party. According to Bernard Fall the statutes of the Cambodian party had to be translated from Vietnamese into Cambodian, and ethnic Vietnamese dominated the leadership of the party. Over the next three years the Vietnamese tried to recruit ethnic Cambodians into the political and military structures of the party, but with limited success. For example, according to a French intelligence document of 1952, the Phnom Penh cell secretariat had a membership of 34, of whom 27 were Vietnamese, 3 were Chinese, and only four were Cambodians.

In November 1953 Cambodia under the royal government of Sihanouk was given complete independence by the French. After the signing of the Geneva Agreements in 1954, the Viet Minh Sees retreated from Cambodia, taking with them half of the cadres of the Revolutionary Cambodian Party. These cadres were to be given further training in Hanoi, and kept in reserve until history provided an opportune moment for their return.

During this period of the mid 1950s there was influx of younger communists back to Cambodia from a period of study France. Most notable of this group was Pol Pot (then known as Saloth Sar, Jeng Sary, Khieu Samohan, Hou Youn and Hu Nim. Some of these communists had come into contact with the ideas of Marx and Lenin before, they went to France. But they had all developed their communist ideology in France under the influence of the Stalinist French communist party. Some of them, like Pol Pot had fought in the last stages of the Viet Minh war against the French. But we should not make too much of the French experience of Pol Pot and long Sary. because other important members of the future Khmer Rouge inner circle -- notably Nuon Chea and Ta Mok -- never went to France. More important to note is that none of the younger communists exhibited any anti-Vietnamese sentiment at this time.

The returnees from France were able to seize control of the Cambodian communist movement by the ena of the 1950s Yet in 1960 the party's name was changed to Kampuchean Workers Party, to conform with the Vietnamese name, and in 1966 it was changed again to Kampuchean Communist Party In 1963 Pol Pot became secretary general of the party. Throughout the 1960s the Kampuchean communists remained friendly and deferential towards the Vietnamese. In July 1965 Pol Pot traveled to Hanoi and discussed with the Vietnamese politburo the appropriate policy for Cambodia.

It is not exactly clear when the Cambodian communists developed their attachment to Maoism. The imbibing of Maoist ideology by the Khmer Rouge seems to have been quite gradual. And the Vietnamese communists themselves must have played some direct role in assisting that process since they themselves had been under Chinese communist influence during the years 1950-56 and 1963-64, years when Vietnamese communist influence over Cambodian communists was still significant. Pol Pot made his first trip to China in late 1965 and stayed into 1966. This was the beginning o the Maoist terror and ideological campaign known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Pol Pot visited China again in 1970. Pol Pot's visits to China probably did not initiate, but most likely intensified, Maoist ideological influence upon the Khmer Rouge.

In January 1968 the Kampuchean Communist Party initiated an armed uprising against the royal government of Prince Sihanouk. This would seem to have been in contradiction with the Vietnamese communist policy of recognizing the royal Cambodian government, a government which had allowed the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong to use eastern Cambodia as a sanctuary and supply line in their war against the American-backed anticommunist government of South Vietnam. However this Khmers Rouges uprising was mostly confined to the hill dwellers (Khmer Loeu) of the mountainous of northeast Cambodia - Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri - and it did not pose any real threat to he survival of the government of Prince Sihanouk. Hence it did not really threaten the strategy of the North Vietnamese.

During the late 1960s many Cambodians, especially among the Cambodian political and military elites became unhappy with the Vietnamese communist occupation of Cambodian soil. They preferred Cambodia to have a closer relationship with the United States. Sihaniouk slowly and reluctantly changed his policy in this regard, and in 1970 he traveled to China and the Soviet Union to try and persuade the big communist powers to pressure Hanoi to remove its forces from Cambodia, Sihanouk was not successful, and on March 18, 1970, while Sihanouk was still in Moscow, Lon Nol led a bloodless palace coup d'etat. This totally changed Cambodia's situation.

Manv people think that the coup d'etat led by Lon Nol, was the work of the United States and its Central Intelligence Agency (ClA). At the time Hanoi, Beijing and Moscow, and their western friends with the help of Sihanouk, did everything to try to spread that myth. There is absolutely no evidence of that. No evidence has been found even by the most critical western writer, William Shawcross. Of course the Americans welcomed the coup.

Many people also think that it was the US and South Vietnamese invasion of eastern Cambodia on April 30, 1970, that brought Cambodia into the Vietnam war. That is also plainly false. It was me Vietnamese communists who spread the Vietnam war inside Cambodia. One of Lon Nol's first public proclamations was to demand that the Vietnamese communist forces leave Cambodia within 48 hours. They ignored his demand, and at the end of March 1970 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces moved out of their border sanctuaries and began to attack the armed forces and towns of the newly proclaimed Khmer Republic. At the same time approximately one thousand of the Khmer Viet Minh, who had been trained in Hanoi, were reinfiltrated back into Cambodia. Their task was to help supervise the areas that would be captured by the Vietnamese communist armies.

On April 30, 1970, exactly six weeks after the Lon Nol coup, and four weeks after the North Vietnamese began their attacks on the Khmer Republic, troops of the United States and South Vietnam began a major attack on the communist sanctuaries inside Cambodia. The Vietnamese communists, anticipating the attack, fled in advance of the allied sweep. However public protests and congressional opposition within the United States precluded the extended American military operations inside Cambodia that any successful pursuit of the communist armies would have required.

When American forces withdrew from the border areas after only two months inside Cambodia, they had successfully cleared most of the base areas that threatened the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. But they had hardly diminished the communist manpower available inside Cambodia as a whole. In the first four months of fighting the Vietnamese communists had seized control of half the territory of Cambodia, In spite of continued American bombing attacks upon them, North Vietnam's battle hardened veterans remained in a good position to deal with the highly motivated but poorly trained and equipped army of the Khmer Republic.

For the next two years of the struggle for Cambodia, it would be Hanoi that would determine the outcome of military events. By the end of 1970 there were four North Vietnamese combat divisions in Cambodia, with some ten thousand of these troops targeting the republican army, and others protecting the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply line to the South Vietnam battlefield.

At the beginning of the war it was obvious to both the Vietnamese communist leaders and Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge that the latter were not yet strong enough to seize Phnom Penh on their own. If Cambodia was to have a communist government, then the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong armies would have to play a role. The Hanoi leaders made explicit in their secret meetings that their party's policy was to "strengthen the revolutionary base in Cambodia and lead the country along the path to socialism." And despite their dismay with the general capabilities of the Cambodian insurgency the Vietnamese were optimistic about the prospects of a communist victory in Cambodia. As one captured communist document summarized the Hanoi view: "The Cambodian revolution is entering a new phase ... From a vacillating neutralist regime, Cambodia can now follow a steady policy. When the enemy is defeated, she will become a democratic and independent country and proceed toward socialism."

Between April 1970 and March 1972 it was the battle hardened Vietnamese army which crushed most of the best units of the army of the Khmer Republic. During this period Vietnamese and Cambodian communist forces, after seizing control of an area, set up a political administration controlled by the National United Front (FUNK) and nominally under the authority of Prince Sihanouk's Royal Government (GRUNK) which was based in exile in Beijing. There were three elements in the political coalition opposed to the Khmer Republic. First, the Khmer Viet Minh communists, trained in Hanoi since 1954, and backed by Vietnamese communist army units. Second, the Pol Pot led Khmers Rouges guerrillas. Third, the followers of Prince Sihanouk, who were militarily weak.

FUNK propaganda appeals emphasizing Sihanouk's leadership role in the insurgency were important in the first year of the war, and reflected the influence of the North Vietnamese upon Cambodian insurgent propaganda. It undoubtedly helped the communists to recruit Cambodian peasant support. However sometime in the middle of 1971, as Pol Pot's Khmers Rouges leaders began to consolidate their control within FUNK, they began the process of removing the pro-Sihanouk elements from positions of power in insurgent-controlled areas. Two years later the Khmers Rouges began an intensive propaganda campaign to discredit the Prince in the eyes of the Cambodian peasants.

The Hanoi-trained communists never attained leadership positions within the Cambodian Revolutionary Organization itself. All the top military and political position within FUNK were held by the Pol Pot forces, who identified themselves as members of Angka Padevat (Revolutionary Organization). During 1970 and 1971, in some areas under Vietnamese military control Khmer Viet Minh political cadres held positions of local state power from the village to the tambon (sector) level. As for the Khmer Viet Minh military cadres, upon their return to Cambodia they were given low ranking positions within the insurgency. Eventually they, together with the political cadres, would be liquidated by Pol Pot's security forces.

By late 1971 the Pol Pot leadership of the KCP had become frustrated with Vietnamese attempts to control the insurgency. They decided to try to expel the Vietnamese communists from Cambodia, even though the Khmer Republic was at that time not yet defeated. Fighting broke out between the Pol Pot led guerillas and some Vietnamese units in late 1971 and especially in 1972.

However it was not the actions of Pol Pot's forces, but rather events pertaining to the struggle for South Vietnam, especially the launching of the Easter Offensive in March 1972, that led Hanoi to remove the bulk of its combat forces from Cambodia. The terrible losses suffered by Hanoi in that offensive, and the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements in January 1973, meant that Hanoi could no longer afford to be deeply involved in the struggle for control of Cambodia thereafter. Yet they did allow Chinese military supplies through to the Khmers Rouges until the war ended.

The Hanoi leaders had already laid the foundation for a Khmers Rouges victory. During the two years from March 1970 the North Vietnamese army had severely mauled the army of the Khmer Republic, and Hanoi sponsored cadres had recruited thousands of peasants under the deceptive banner of the politically impotent Sihanouk. Hanoi's actions by themselves did not determine the outcome of the war. But they greatly helped place Pol Pot's forces in a position to seize power in April 1975.

When Phnom Penh surrendered to insurgent forces on April 30, 1975, the Khmers Rouges victors were enthusiastically congratulated by the Vietnamese communists. By the time the North Vietnamese army had marched into Saigon some two weeks later, Phnom Penh and most of the major towns of Cambodia had been emptied of their former inhabitants. Cambodia, now renamed Democratic Kampuchea, had begun its long march towards the hyper Maoist Utopia. But in spite of real differences between the Vietnamese and Cambodian approaches to revolution, there were few public signs of Vietnamese communist dissatisfaction with their neighbour's social experiment.. However, concealed from international view, the tensions that had surfaced during the war years had been exacerbated. The ostensible issue of the dispute was the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Between 1870 and 1914 the French had redrawn the borders between Cambodia and Vietnam, by amputating large chunks of Cambodian territory and making them administratively part of their Vietnamese colonial entities. In June 1948, in the Along Bay Agreement, the French recognised their colony of Cochinchina -what had formerly been southern Cambodia (Kampuchea Krom to the Khmers Rouges) - as part of Vietnam. The resentment felt by most Cambodians at this humiliation, combined with the spirit of triumphalism that permeated the Khmers Rouges, fed into an amition for forceful recovery of lost territories. Sihanouk reports that in 1975 the Khmers Rouge had told him "we are going to recover Kampuchea Krom." Yet such ambition of the Khmers Rouges should have been restrained by military realities. The Vietnamese army was ten times the size of the Khmers Rouges army. Vietnam also had a significant air force and navy, which the DK did not.

Nevertheless in early May 1975 the Khmers Rouges attacked Vietnamese islands in the Gulf of Thailand, claiming the islands that the French had assigned to their Vietnamese colony, and which had been inherited by South Vietnam. The Vietnamese, though surprised, responded decisively. By the end of May the Vietnamese had recaptured the islands by force, taking 300 prisoners. In early In early June the Vietnamese retaliated further by attacking and occupying the Cambodian island of Puolo Wai. These actions seemed to restrain for a time the Khmers Rouges enthusiasm for military challenges to Vietnam.

On June 2 Pol Pot received Nguyen Van Linh, who was representing the Vietnamese Workers Party (as the Vietnamese communist party was still called). Pol Pot told Linh that the fighting had been due to "ignorance of the local geography by Kampuchean troops." In June 1975 Pol Pot, leng Sary and Nuon Chea led a KCP delegation that secretly travelled to Hanoi for negotiations. In July 1975 a high powered delegation from Vietnam, headed by Communist Party first secretary Le Duan, undertook what was described as a "friendly visit" to Cambodia. In August the Cambodian island that Vietnam had occupied was returned.

Publicly the Vietnamese gave no hint of any problems. The September issue of the official Vietnamese monthly Vietnamese Courier spoke of the talks being held in a "cordial atmosphere full of brotherly spirit." The article went further when it praised Cambodia's new social order without qualification. "Liberated Cambodia is living in a new and healthy atmosphere."

The Vietnamese had retained some of their military forces on Cambodian soil after the joint communist victories of 1975. It took some political effort by the Chinese to convince the Hanoi leaders that the troops should be returned to Vietnam.

Throughout 1976 there were public greetings exchanged on special occasions. For example in April 1976 the first anniversary of the Khmers Rouges victory was hailed by Vietnamese party and government leaders. The Vietnamese media spoke glowingly of the "achievements" of the "Cambodian workers, peasants, and revolutionary army." Various official delegations from Vietnam visited Cambodia in 1976. In July an agreement was signed to open an air link between Hanoi and Phnom Penh. In September 1976 that air service was begun.

Thus by the end of 1976 the outward signs suggested close relations between the communist parties and governments of Vietnam and Cambodia. Yet these outward signs concealed the real feelings of both parties The Vietnamese leaders hoped that some pro-Vietnamese elements would appear within the leadership of the Kampuchean Communist Party. At the same time the leaders of Democratic Kampuchea were possessed by a seething hatred and fear of the rulers of Vietnam - a hatred and fear that threatened to boil over into armed confrontation.

The Vietnamese leaders had a poor grasp of the real political situation within the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea. They felt that Pol Pot and leng Sary were pro-Chinese and therefore bad people but that Nuon Chea was different. On November 6 1976 Pham Van Dong told the Soviet ambassador to Vietnam that "with Nuon Chea we are able to work better. We know him better than the other leaders of Kampuchea." At a meeting with the Soviet Ambassador on November 16, 1976 The Vietnamese Communist Party first secretary Le Duan stated that he was glad that Pol Pot and leng Sary had (apparently) been removed from the leadership, because they constituted "a pro-Chinese sect conducting a crude and severe policy." Le Duan also asserted that Nuon Chea, a member of the Standing Committee and Secretariat of the Kampuchean Communist Party, who had replaced Pol Pot as Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea in September, was a person of pro-Vietnamese orientation. Le Duan added that "he is our man and my personal friend." Le Duan was to repeat this opinion in private conversations with Soviet diplomats over the next two years. .

The Cambodian communists had good reason to fear the ambitions of the Vietnamese communists in the long term. But the question arises as to how imminent a threat to the power of the Khmers Rouges the Vietnamese posed. The Vietnamese had devised a strategy for controlling the communist movements of Laos and Cambodia. A key element had been inflitrating the communist parties of these countries with people that Hanoi had trained and indoctrinated. In the case of Cambodia Hanoi had trained and supported the so-called Khmer Viet Minh, whom it assumed would act as its agents. So the Khmers Rouges leaders did have real enemies in Hanoi. But Pol Pot and his supporters had anticipated the Vietnamese strategy, and had preempted it by arresting all the Khmer Viet Minh soon after they returned from Hanoi with the Vietnamese army in the early 1970s, and again after the victory of 1975. Nevertheless Pol Pot and his inner circle still feared that Soviet or Vietnamese agents might still be hidden within the party. Thus Pol Pot conducted a series of bloody purges of the party, guided in his choice of victims by paranoid fears rather than real evidence of disloyalty or conspiracy. Not only did Pol Pot carry out bloody internal purges to crush what he thought were enemies within. He also directed the regime's violence against its neighbours.

In April 1977, on the second anniversary of the "liberation" of Phnom Penh, the government and government controlled media in Hanoi offered their congratulations and praise for the Democratic Kampuchea regime. But this goodwill gesture reaped no beneficial consequences for Vietnam. The Khmers Rouges chose the second anniversary of the communist conquest of South Vietnam to leave a bloody message to their former "elder brothers." On April 30, 1977 DK units attacked several villages and towns in An Giang and Chau Doc provinces of South Vietnam, burning houses and killing hundreds of civilians. The Vietnamese leaders were shocked by this unprovoked attack and could not understand any strategic rationale. Nevertheless they decided upon military retaliation. Throughout 1977 armed clashes occurred between Vietnam and Democratic Kampuchea in the border area. Yet when in September 1977 Pol Pot publicly announced that what had previously been known as the Revolutionary Organisation (Angkar Padevat) was in fact the Kampuchean Communist Party, the Vietnamese Communist Party Central Committee sent a message of congratulations, publicly expressing its joy. Interestingly, this message was sent after hundreds of Vietnamese civilians had been killed in Khmers Rouges raids on September 24.

In a conversation with the Soviet ambassador in Hanoi in November 1977 Le Duan indicated that he thought that the anti-Vietnamese behaviour of the DK leaders was because of the outlooks of the “Troskyist” Pol Pot and the “fierce nationalist and pro-Chinese” Ieng Sary. But Le Duan thought that Nuon Chea and Son Sen “have a positive attitude towards Vietnam.” Apparently Le Duan and the other Vietnamese leaders were hoping that the foreign policies of Democratic Kampuchea could be changed by a coup within the Khmers Rouges leadership circles.

In December 1977 the fighting between Vietnam and Democratic Kampuchea escalated. Hanoi used warplanes, artillery and about 20,000 men in an attack inside the Parrot's Beak region of Svay Rieng. After inflicting a serious defeat on the army of Democratic Kampuchea, the Vietnamese withdrew, taking with them thousands of prisoners as well as civilian refugees. They might have been in a position to seize Phnom Penh at that point. But they were concerned about what China’s reaction might be, and hoped that their strong but limited military blows would force the leaders of Democratic Kampuchea to negotiate a settlement. Instead the leaders of DK hardened their attitudes. The DK broke diplomatic regions on December 31, 1977. And they declared the Vietnamese withdrawal a major victory for “the Kampuchean revolution.” Despite their losses, and despite the massive disparity between the Vietnamese and Cambodian armies, with the Vietnamese superiority in both numbers (more than eight one) and quality of military equipment, the army of Democratic Kampuchea persisted in launching attacks inside Vietnamese territory. Phnom Penh radio broadcasts exhorted Cambodians to fight and win total victory over Vietnam, with the deranged assertion that one Kampuchean soldier was equal to thirty Vietnamese. The DK leadership was living in a fantasy world.

Upon realising that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea was utterly implacable, Hanoi decided upon a new strategy for changing the DK regime. After two and a half years of pretending that Democratic Kampuchea was a nice regime for Cambodians to live under, they began for the first time to denounce the domestic terror of the DK. Between January and June they slowly changed their description of the DK leadership from :the Kampuchean authorities” to the “Pol Pot-Ieng Sary clique.” Hanoi radio called for the need to save the Cambodian people from genocide at the hands of the “Pol Pot-leng Sary clique.”

Vietnam began building a “liberation army" from among the refugees and other civilians that they had brought back from Cambodia. Pol Pot also inadvertently helped the Vietnamese to build their army by conducting his internal terror and purges of the party and army. The brutal terror resulted in many cadres and even units of the DK army fleeing for their lives to Vietnam. These defectors, mostly from the Eastern Zone of Democratic Kampuchea, joined the forces being assembled by Vietnam. But The Vetnamese leaders realised that an insurgency based upon the "liberation army" of Cambodians would not be strong enough to prevail. Sometime in the middle of 1978 the Vietnamese leaders decided that they had to launch a full scale invasion of Cambodia, and install a new regime that would not only not be hostile, but also one that would be friendly to Vietnam.

The Soviets were encouraged to increase their military aid to Vietnam, with the pretense that China was threatening Vietnam’s independence. Throughout the latter half of 1978 the Vietnamese prepared their military forces, and the psychological climate of revulsion for the DK regime. They hoped to achieve an easy victory over their former comrades and face few negative consequences.

On December 25 1978 Vietnam launched an all out invasion of Cambodia, As anticipated, resistance to the invasion collapsed quickly. But that invasion, and especially the Vietnamese refusal to withdraw, turned international public opinion and international political leaders strongly against Vietnam. China countered the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia by launching its own invasion of north Vietnam in February 1979. That attack was not in itself a military success for China. But it forced Vietnam to concentrate troops on its northern border and gave ASEAN confidence to be able to provide support for a coalition of Cambodian forces, including the Khmers Rouges, who were resisting Vietnam's occupation.

After more than a decade of Vietnamese military occupation of Cambodia, the pressures from United Nations Chinese American and Southeast Asian nations, and the cut off of Soviet and Eastern European aid, meant that by 1989 the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia had become untenable. The United Nations Secure Council Permanent Five agreed on a plan whereby the UN would undertake a temporary administration of Cambodia, with the purpose of bringing freedom and a just peace to the Cambodian people.

For approximately sixty years since the formation of the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930, the Vietnamese communists had always considered Cambodia part of an Indochinese Federation of socialist states, under the domination of the more numerous and powerful Vietnamese "elder brothers." The Vietnamese communist strategy was initially to infiltrate the communist movements of the neighbouring countries with ethnic Vietnamese. By the 1950s, the Vietnamese strategy was to infiltrate the Cambodian movement with ethnic Khmer whom Vietnam had trained and indoctrinated. It was certain that those Khmer whom Vietnam had trained would be loyal to Vietnam. This was the first of many misjudgments by the Vietnamese communist leaders. Many of those whom the Vietnamese communists had trained and indoctrinated turned into their enemies.

Nevertheless, based on their misperceptions of the situation, the Vietnamese communists supported the Khmers Rouges revolution. The reasons for the Khmers Rouges coming to power in 1975 were numerous and complex. However we can see from the history of Vietnamese and Cambodian communism that Vietnam played a vital role in laying the foundations for the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea.

After the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea by the Pol Pot led Khmers Rouges, the Vietnamese communists attempted to establish friendly relations with their weaker neighbour. They celebrated what they described as the "liberation" of Cambodia by the Khmers Rouges. However Pol Pot was driven by a self-destructive combination of paranoia and delusions of grandeur. He provoked the Vietnamese into an unfriendly stance by his attacks upon Vietnamese territory and civilians. And Pol Pot also provided the Vietnamese with recruits for their imperial ambition by terrorising and massacring many of his own political and military cadres. Many Khmers Rouges fled for their lives to Vietnam in 1977 and 1978, and provided the personnel for the governments that Hanoi established in Cambodia from 1979 onwards.

Hanoi's motives were never humanitarian but only self-interested. On the one hand we must not forget that the Vietnamese had a legitimate right to self defence, and the 1978 invasion was consistent with that. But the ten year military occupation, and Hanoi's simultaneous refusal to recognise the noncommunist forces or the resolutions of the United Nations, showed that they were also motivated by an imperial ambition.

Forces beyond the control of Vietnam, especially the collapse of the Soviet Union and its communist bloc, as well as the pressures of China and ASEAN, eventually caused the Vietnamese to withdraw their forces from Cambodia. But some of Vietnam's political influence upon Cambodia still remains.

Extracted from:
- Stephen J. MORRIS : Speech On the Occasion of Public Forum on Khmer Rouge History at Sunway Hotel, 25-26 January 2007

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Remember the Evil of April 17

Remember the Evil of April 17
By Kok Sap US- April 14, 2007
If it was not for Sihanouk self deprecated and narcissistic politic in mid 60's Cambodia history might have been different. No Phnom Wai Chap uprising in 60's, no March 18 1970 or Hanoi aggression, and importantly no secret US B-52 bombardment. Importantly no Janauary 7 1979 Viet occupation and decades of Annamized dictatorship or July 1997 power robbery. These events had turned Cambodia into a bloodbath and a laughing stock nation from 1970-1997. Who's the evil doer?
No one other than but Sihanouk himself, from the command post in Beijing, ordered his black clad children soldiers to wipe out his enemies and their families upon his infamous April 17, 1975 victory. This was the apocalyptic event that of all Khmer ancient rulers had never been able to achieve in nearly 800 years. Millions of life, countless properties and a nation of men was down to nothingness of worthy to an evil namely Sihanouk.
Traditionally April was supposed to be ominous and auspicious month for Cambodia inhabitants. People were supposed to cherish and celebrate life in such month. However, Sihanouk had destroyed every fabric of family, society, and barely survived culture in one swoop of his genetic imbalance madness.
In April 17 1975, Cambodia was landscaped with piles of body. This nation was filled with nuance and hopelessness. People disassociated themselves from black color. A new definition of blackness was merciless and murderousness. Every well stocked village was destroyed and emptied. Every known path was avoided and every religious or educational institution was abandoned and shun. Every child lost someone, or something and chance of future was uprooted by the very father of nation as he would like to be called. Every family cultural fabric was subjected to censorship and expenditure of one evil man vengeance
Cambodia stood still in awes as Sihanouk proletariat revolutionary contingents declared a new ultra radical era of leap forward revolution year zero to out done all of the past Cambodia achievers. The inaugural 5 year plan of mass rebuilding and destruction was unfolded under Sihanouk watchful eyes. To date Sihanouk was and still is at the center fold of these heinous crimes and mystic events 40 year later. Although the world had thrown its mercy and support but Sihanouk managed to do everything possible to trounce the world from succeeding in its justice endeavor for Killing Fields victims.
In every April since 1975, many have felt sorrows over their dead loved ones and own self awakening after false joy. Thus month of April is no longer the same since Sihanouk, and his cohorts did their heinous deeds then. Every sensible individual treads on the welcoming long traditional New Year celebration on the 14 day conscientiously then grieve the heartbroken losses on the 17 day of the month for the past 32 year. We would not have anything to say about this if it was not for Sihanouk majestic vision.
Cambodia history will never forget its abuser, the Beijing made Evil, and especially in every April month. Presently Sihanouk is ageing but not dying yet as he enjoys the anguishes and agonies shown on people face on such occasion. He is the cruelest and despicably amoral man ever born and lived in Cambodia. At dying age, he has held the entire society and nation hostage. He continues to refuse justice for humanity at the expense of Cambodia. He has put people on notice of his hellish April 17 vengeance is here to stay on the very same moment of Khmer cultural moment of joy.
So far the culprit is not slowing down but continuing to humiliate those who already surrendered and confessed of utmost love to paternal land over him. Every moment of his wake, the Cambodia Evil makes sure that generations and history will remember him.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Prime Minister talks tough on land-grabbing issues

By Sue-Lyn Moyle and Aun Pheap
Phnom Penh Post, Issue 16 / 07, April 6 - 19, 2007

In the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen's declaration of war on land grabbers, Tan Seng Hak, a former advisor to Senate and Cambodian People's Party president Chea Sim, has been arrested over land title fraud.

Mok Chito, director of the Penal Department at the Ministry of Interior, said Hak had been detained in Prey Sar prison after being charged with more than 60 cases of using Sim's name to forge land title documents.

"Seng Hak has tarnished Chea Sim's name," Chito told the Post April 3. "Samdech Chea Sim was not aware of the illegal use of his name."

Hak was arrested March 22 at the Washington Hotel in Prek Leap, in Russei Keo district. The suspected land fraud cases originated from Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmei, Russei Keo district, and include 400 hectares of land owned by Chinese and local companies.

Chito said military police had also arrested Yin Saran, a former chief bodyguard for Chea Sim, and Bun Setha, Seng Hak's uncle, in connection with the case.

Yim Leang, deputy chief of the cabinet of Chea Sim, said Chhoeun Chanthon, also a former chief bodyguard for Chea Sim and the commander of military unit 70, was also under investigation by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in relation to the case.

The arrests come in the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen's self-declared war on land grabbers. Hun Sen had publicly warned government officials and the rich and powerful that they must stop stealing private and state land. Hun Sen warned that those who violated his order would be expelled from their positions.

Rights groups and NGOs have welcomed the move.

"We would like to support the decision by Prime Minister Hun Sen in his war against land grabbing and would like to offer our support by providing cases to the Secretariat [National Authority for Resolving Land Dispute]," said Adhoc president Thun Saray during a March 28 press conference. "We will follow up their progress and provide further assessment."

Saray said Adhoc would bring five cases to the attention of the authorities, some involving military personnel, and that others would follow depending on the outcome of those initial cases.

Rights groups have echoed Saray's doubts about the court's ability to enforce the law, and have warned that arrests alone were not enough.

"We always welcome the arrests of people who violate the land law and violate the rights of the people," said Kek Galabru, president of a local rights group Licadho. "But what we want to see is real justice. First of all, they must be prosecuted and then they have to give back what they took illegally. The two things are complementary."

Galabru said it was still too early to know if justice for the victims of land grabbing would be served.

"It depends on the political will of the leaders," she said. "If the government would really like to combat this kind of problem, then justice should be implemented for everybody, not just selectively. So we have to wait and see if justice continues to be implemented."

» Read more!

Political parties want to win elections

By Cat Barton and Sam Rith
Phnom Penh Post, Issue 16 / 07, April 6 - 19, 2007

In theory, political equality arrived in Cambodia in 1955 when women were granted the right to vote and allowed to stand for election. Three years later, the Kingdom's first female parliamentarian, Tong Siv Eng, was elected to the National Assembly.

In practice, however, political equality has been slow to materialize. Half a century after Siv Eng's success at the polls, only two out of 25 ministers, eight out of 127 secretaries of state, and 15 out of 135 undersecretaries of state are women.

Experts point to Cambodia's high rate of female illiteracy and Chbab Srey-induced female passivity as two of the main factors that deter women from entering politics.

But with the country's first district-level elections five years ago, women began finding their place on the political stage, and the ensuing five years have helped cement their contributions to the country's social and political development.

Twice as many female candidates ran in Sunday's commune elections than did in 2002, and the emergence of female candidates is quietly reshaping the Cambodian political landscape.

"As a female candidate it is very hard to persuade citizens to elect you," said Kim Chansopath, council member in Sangkat Boeng Keng Kong I. "As a female commune council member, you have to struggle to convince both men and women that you are able to do this job. [But] there are only two important things in politics: whether you win or lose - not whether you are man or woman."

Coming to the party

Commune elections run on a party-list system. A voter selects a party, not a candidate. The election winners are the top-listed party members from the party with the most votes.

In 2002, 1,161 female candidates were ranked in the top three places on party lists. In 2007, that number leapt to 2,328. The increase is because political parties have realized that female candidates win votes, said Pok Nanda, executive director of Women for Prosperity (WfP), a local NGO that provides support and training to female political candidates.

"Political parties want to win elections," she said. "So they need popular candidates, and female candidates are very popular. Women are visible at the local level, sincere, serious - they care. This is what the parties and the voters have seen of their performance since 2002."

Over the last five years, voters have become more open to female candidates, and women more eager to participate in politics, Nanda said. Female involvement in local level politics since the 2002 commune elections has helped break down the widely held view that politics is dirty, corrupt, violent and best left to men, she said.

"How do you get your child to go to school?" Nanda asked. "Where do you take your children when they are sick? How much does this service cost? When you tell women this is politics, then they want to get involved."

Their involvement has been beneficial, said Nanda. Some of the 2002 female commune councilors that WfP have worked with have proved remarkably effective at reducing corruption in their communities and appear to have helped usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in local level politics, she said.

"They encourage everyone to work as a council not as individuals," she said. "In some cases they have demanded that the commune chief and the clerk have meetings with the whole council about the budget which reduces the risk of corruption. We have told them 'if your council is corrupt, you are corrupt.' They see this and work to find ways to stop their council being corrupt."

Changing the agenda

Increased female participation is also injecting new issues into the traditionally male-dominated agendas of local-level politics, said Maraile Goergen, who has carried out German government-funded research on female commune councilors across Cambodia.

"The work is gendered," she said. "Women focus on healthcare, education, and other services whereas men focus on infrastructure, law and order, security. But due to the fact the work is gendered, women have become key to commune councils. And as their confidence grows, they are taking on more work."

Women in rural Cambodia, as in many countries, tend to carry out more than their fair share of labor and consequently may have a more immediate understanding of, and better ability to articulate, the problems facing their families and communities, said Canadian Ambassador Donnica Pottie.

"There are many intelligent women living in rural areas where they have limited access to education," she said. "Yet they are still very bright and very able to make an enormous contribution to their community."

Female commune councilors have become so popular, and their impact so beneficial, that their numbers are increasing despite the lack of quota system or affirmative action, said Mu Sochua, secretary-general of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP).

"We had to stay within the cultural context and change from within, but now real change is coming," she said. "As women we have had to prove to ourselves, as well as others, that we are capable."

Although there is a scarcity of politically experienced Cambodian women, the 2002 influx of commune councilors have worked hard and grown noticeably in both confidence and capacity, Sochua said.

"We are really seeing more high-quality candidates," she said. "They are working to boost their skills, to improve their education and, step by step, they are managing it."

Along party lines

Though the overall number of female candidates for commune council positions has increased, the breakdown along party lines demonstrates how important support and training is to keep women in politics.

In 2002, 13 percent of the CPP's candidates were women.

Funcinpec did moderately better with 14 percent, and the SRP fielded slightly more than 20 percent female candidates.

But according to the National Election Commission (NEC) figures for 2007, the CPP fielded 17 percent female candidates, Funcinpec managed 19 percent, and the SRP dropped to 14 percent.

"We have learned our lesson," said Sochua. "We didn't provide enough support for our female candidates. Women are subject to a double victimization - a general cultural discrimination against their gender, and then a real antipathy towards women in politics. We are already talking now about how we can support [female SRP commune officials] more in future."

In contrast, the CPP was able to increase its proportion of women candidates because it could provide a more comprehensive support network, said councilmember Chansopath.

"The CPP offers a lot of training for female candidates," she said. "There are many female candidates in the party and they are given lots of support and help."

Personal battles

For Khim Makara, a 33-year-old female Funcinpec candidate, her party's political decline has reduced the amount of both party and public support available to her.

"I organized my election campaign myself, but I've not received many votes because of the conflict in the party," she said. "As a female candidate I have endured a lot of criticism. People say I can't work as well as a man."

While campaign support from their parties helps, female candidates still face a personal struggle against conservative social values. But that battle, too, is slowly being won.

"In 2002 it was really hard personally for females in politics as their husbands often didn't support their work," said Ros Sopheap, executive director, Gender and Development for Cambodia (GAD). "This time [2007] I think more female candidates will have support from their families. The husbands see that they get benefits, for example more status in their village if their wife is a commune councilor. But many women still have a problem balancing domestic work and party work."

Not only is it important to encourage the families of female commune officials to support them, it is imperative to encourage families to value their daughters' educations more so that the next generation of female politicians has a chance to develop, said Sopheap.

"In Cambodian society women have far fewer opportunities than men so it is important to target them," she said. "We offer training to female politicians, and we try to educate parents to help them see why it is important not to just let their daughters drop out of school."

Special measures should be taken to help Cambodian girls pursue a higher education, said Pottie. Factors such as a lack of restrooms in schools and acceptable dorm arrangements away from home result in many females never finishing their education, she said.

"A lack of education is an impediment to entering politics," she said. "Not a major one, but it is a huge impediment to economic growth."

The success of women in politics has ruffled a few male feathers, said WfP's Nanda.

"There may be some resistance at first," she said. "But we are not trying to take over the country, we just want to be equals, we just want to be allowed to enter politics and participate in the decision making process in our country. We don't want to see ignored, excluded, ignorant women wasting their lives and their potential in our country."

For Chansopath, the opportunities for women in politics are endless.

"I believe Cambodia could have a female prime minister," she said. "I see many strong women in Cambodia, women are sometimes stronger than men. I think that in the next three or four years you could have a female candidate for prime minister."

» Read more!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The FBI opens a permanent office in Phnom Penh

Wednesday, April 04, 2007
By Kang Kallyan and Soren Seelow
Cambodge Soir

Unofficial translation from French by Luc Sâr

Click here to read Cambodge Soir’s article in French

The FBI opened Monday a permanent office in Phnom Penh. According to Hok Lundy, the national police chief, the opening of this satellite office was done in conjunction with the fight against terrorism.

Jeff Daigle, the US embassy spokesman, declared that the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the US federal police agency, opened its office in Phnom Penh on Monday – the 60th office the agency opened outside the US territory. In Asia, the FBI has offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Djakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, as well as in Canberra and Sydney in Australia.

The FBI office in Phnom Penh, housed inside the US embassy building, is currently staffed by Cary Gleicher, its temporary representative, whose assignment will last three months. The FBI is currently recruiting a permanent staff in the US who could arrive in Phnom Penh within this year, Jeff Daigle said. According to the latter, the FBI presence in Cambodia is not due to any particular reason, but that it answers to the “natural progress” of the “good cooperation” between the two countries.

According to Hok Lundy, the opening of this office answers most of all to the fight against terrorism. “Up to now, we collaborated with the [FBI] Bangkok office. With the FBI cooperation, we already arrested in 2001, CFF (Cambodian Freedom Fighters) members whose US chief planned to topple the government, and also terrorists linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) which planned attacks in Phnom Penh in 2003. Cambodia is an ideal refuge for terrorists, therefore, it is important for the FBI to open a permanent office here,” Hok Lundy declared.

The FBI is in charge of fighting more than 200 federal crimes committed. Placed under the supervision of the US Justice Department, the FBI receives its fundings and assignments from the latter. The FBI is the federal agency which has the largest authority when it comes to investigation. With its mission statement of “protect and defend the USA,” the FBI assignments include the fight against terrorism, counter-espionage, fight against organized crime, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and also general intelligence gathering. The agency uses for its motto, words starting with the agency’s initial letters: “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.” In 1996, the agency had 23 offices overseas. Ten years later, the number tripled.

The “Bureau of Investigation” (BOI) was formed in 1908 to fight against organized crime. In between the two world wars, its power stretched to respond to difficulties faced by local police to enforce the law during the prohibition era, it was only in 1935 that the agency’s name was changed to “Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

» Read more!

Hun Sen: “If the SRP cannot exterminate the CPP, it will disappear by itself”

Thursday, April 5, 2007
By Leang Delux
Cambodge Soir

Unofficial translation from French by Tola Ek

Click here to read Cambodge Soir’s original article in French

Prime Minister Hun Sen does not want to start a new chapter of his history by initiating a collaboration with the Sam Rainsy Party. Hun Sen let Sam rainsy know that by camping on his opposition position, he will remain there “for life,” just like Le Pen does in France.

Hun Sen took care of his business with Sam Rainsy. During the inauguration of the end of the renovation work for a street in Kompong Som, the prime minister lambasted his main political opponent in a long speech. “Le Pen who leads an opposition party in France, remains his entire life long in the opposition. He is now close to 80-year –old, and he is the oldest candidate to the [French] presidential election. His career is also reduced to the opposition, one remains in there for life. [Sam Rainsy] already insisted on the condition that I am not part of the government for his entry into the government. It was ‘you without me or me without you’. Now, it is us [the CPP]!” Nevertheless, he toned down his rhetoric by adding that “nevertheless, we are not refusing anybody, we are not considering this or that party as our enemy, unless that party considers our party as its black sheep.” He then went on the attack again by declaring that: “if the SRP cannot exterminate the CPP, it will disappear by itself.”

“Nobody is Hun Sen’s enemy, except for the Khmer Rouge. Now, ‘at the end, the entire Khmer Rouge order was toppled. Pol Pot, Son Sen and Ta Mok are dead and the others will face justice!” Hun Sen then said: “By saying this, I don’t mean to say that I am asking the opposition to stop its activities. But, I’m saying that it could do more so that people would say that Cambodia is democratic.” He then launched an appeal to the members of the commune councils in the country to work “together” even if they belong to different political parties because the “commune councils should not look like the National Assembly.” “At the top level (the National Assembly), there is an opposition [party] but this should not be at the commune level.”

No to discussions

Referring to Sam Rainsy’s remarks, who said on Monday that he would be open to a collaboration with the ruling party, Hun Sen said that “according to what he learned,” some people wanted to hold discussions with the CPP. “And I answered that it was useless because we have from our legal basis, the right to manage of the communes. If they have issues they want to raise, then they should bring them to the attention of the Ministry of Interior. By refusing to accept them, I do not refuse all sorts of negotiations, but we are not going to have a remake of the decentralization when a law which is welcomed by everybody already exists!” Pursuing his thought, Hun Sen said that he believes that “wanting to meet the CPP is only a pretext to meet its leaders in order to assure a spot in the next government. “Don’t forget that Hun Sen is part of the group of people who decide the strategy. Therefore, don’t try to create a discord in the CPP-Funcinpec relationships.”

Cooperation at the local level?

Contacted yesterday, Sam Rainsy explained that he never thought about cooperating with the CPP in the government, he said that he was only defending the idea of cooperation between the two parties at the commune council level. “We are not yet at the general election!” he added. “If I said that our two parties must cooperate to support the decentralization and the local development, that’s because I am a responsible leader. Nevertheless, if needed, when problems occur between our members and those of the CPP, I will go meet Sar Kheng [the co-Minister of Interior]. If he [Hun Sen] rejects all cooperation, that means that he lacks the sense of responsibility,” he said.

Hun Sen also replied to the criticisms which traditionally come from the SRP during the election campaign, especially regarding vote buying by the CPP through large distributions of gifts. Indeed, Sam Rainsy used to tell his compatriots that the gifts only last a while, whereas democracy is a gain for life. Hun Sen retorted back at this argument. “They [SRP] also distribute gifts: vitamins, and this didn’t stop them from criticizing us. Under the Khmer Rouge, there were ‘Aspirin’ groups (groups distributing Aspirin to people), today, the country has its ‘vitamins’ groups! Furthermore, a gift, even though lasting only ‘one day,’ can always help provide a better life. Take for example the case of a blaze. Wouldn’t rice and tent donations be beneficial to the victims? How about the tailoring school that my wife set up for underprivileged girls, and where 1,000 students are graduating from every trimester, isn’t this gift beneficial?”

» Read more!
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