Liberation vs Occupation - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...

'Cold war' communist versus capitalist ideological struggle (1946 - 1990) and everything else in the post World War II era (1946 onwards).
Forum rules: No one line posts please.
User avatar
By AFAIK
#14267320
Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia on 25th December 1978. They entered Phnom Penh on 7th January 1979. The 7th January is an annual holiday referred to as "Victory Over Genocide Day". This is a contentious date in contemporary Cambodia.

[......] Jan 7 is a national holiday, but it runs a far second in importance to Independence Day on Nov 9. Many say it shouldn’t be a holiday at all.

“It is confusing for the Cambodian people,” said Thun Saray, president of the human rights NGO Adhoc and a leading scholar on Cambodian culture. “On one part, we can consider it a day of liberation. But then there’s this other part, about how Cambodian society became under the foreign troops.”

In Phnom Penh, students and anti-CPP groups rally against government ties to Vietnam. They say Vietnam dictates the political and economic policies of Prime Minister Hun Sen, its “puppet.”

They cry out against controversial border treaties and say Vietnamese interests run roughshod over poor Cambodians. They say Jan 7, 1979, was the beginning of Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia.

“Only the people who support the CPP support the celebration. For me, it is not a national celebration,” said Kem Sokha, a former Funcinpec parliamentarian and director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

“We were liberated from the Khmer Rouge, but then Vietnam occupied. Cambodia was not free yet,” he said.

The CPP is also cautious of celebrating Jan 7. In the last few years, the government officially renamed it, from Liberation Day to Victory Day Over Genocide.

[........]

Whether Vietnam invaded or liberated Cambodia, it is certain that the hardships did not end in 1979.

War continued, and the Vietnamese-backed government set to building fortifications against rebellious factions along the Thai border. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were conscripted through the 1980s for perilous labor at the so-called K5 project.

Carrying out tasks such as clearing land, mining and de-mining, digging trenches and transporting equipment and ammunition, tens of thousands of forced laborers succumbed to malaria or were maimed or killed by land mines.

[......]

The government’s critics today “were not in Cambodia during that time. We understand the importance of this day,” said CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith. “We’re trying to keep the memory alive.”

But for some, that memory is not about civil freedoms or the birth of democracy. Living under the horrors of the Khmer Rouge set a standard against which the small liberties, such as enjoying music, are enough.

In that respect, the Jan 7 holiday is not a celebration of liberation, but a commemoration of survival.

“Maybe if Cambodia did not have the killing fields, we would not need Vietnamese troops,” said Khieu Kola, who lived through the Khmer Rouge regime and worked as a journalist through the 1980s. “But for me, if Vietnam did not intervene, I would have died.”


http://www.cambodiadaily.com/archive/vn ... rsary-856/

[.......]
Pen Sovann, one of the founders of the front, and the former prime minister of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea in 1981, said the Cambodian contingent alone were not strong enough to topple the Khmer Rouge and they needed Vietnamese support.

“The agreement was to establish friendships for mutual understanding, not to abuse the border, not to interfere with each other,” Pen Sovann said of the treaty between the People’s Republic of Kampuchea and Vietnam, which was signed on Feb 18, 1979.

“But, on the contrary, after the liberation, they abused the territory and they wanted this part and that part of Cambodia…. They wanted to colonize us and to control us,” Pen Sovann said.

Pen Sovann’s criticism of Vietnam’s long-term plans for Cambodia earned him a denouncement by his more compliant PRK colleagues, and he was eventually imprisoned for 10 years in Hanoi.

Indeed, Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989, a decade-long occupation during which a coalition of anti-Vietnamese Cambodian forces, including the Khmer Rouge, established bases inside Thailand and engaged in bloody civil war with the Hanoi-backed PRK government in Phnom Penh.

And January 7, 1979-the symbolic date of both the fall of Cambodia’s most cruel regime and the onset of a decade of foreign occupation-remains a point of serious contention 30 years later.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, then 26, was part of the front that ousted the Khmer Rouge, and his ruling CPP government, the latter-day incarnation of the PRK political heirs of January 7, made the date a national holiday in 1996.

“January 7 was a historical day. It gave us a new birthday, and I want everyone to remember it in their hearts,” CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said.

This year, the 30th anniversary will be celebrated with a “mass rally” at Olympic Stadium, which is expected to involve 20,000 students donated by their teachers from Phnom Penh’s high schools.

But the CPP-backed rally, and its use of school children, has sparked the ire of opposition leaders who say there is too much ambivalence about the meaning and history of January 7 to make it a day of national celebration. They prefer the anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords on Oct 23, 1991, which brought peace and democracy to Cambodia and was a national holiday until being suddenly dropped by the government in 2006.

CPP government explained their decision saying that there were too many national holidays, and the country already had January 7.

“April 17 [1975] and January 7 [1979] are inextricably associated: both of them are communist Frankensteins,” SRP President Sam Rainsy wrote in an e-mail.

“Celebrating January 7 without having in mind a broader historical perspective, is playing into the hands of the current Phnom Penh regime whose only raison d’etre was to ‘free’ the Cambodian people from the Khmer Rouge with communist Vietnam’s decisive but not unselfish help,” Sam Rainsy wrote.

“But it is worth realizing that without April 17, 1975 (date of the Khmer Rouge takeover and the beginning of the Cambodian genocide), there would be no need for January 7, 1979. And without the Vietnamese and Chinese communist massive intervention in the early 1970s to help the Khmer Rouge, the latter would not have been able to seize power and there would be no April 17, 1975,” he added.

Even 30 years after the fact, one’s position in the “liberation vs invasion” debate is a quick identifier of their political alliances.

Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Suth Dina once vehemently opposed the January 7 anniversary as former president of the ultra-nationalist Khmer Front Party. Now that the NRP has realigned with the CPP-led government, Suth Dina said he and his new party would no longer oppose the national holiday.

Probably only one this is for sure when it comes to understanding or imagining January 7 – it’s history is in the eye of the beholder.

“The overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime and the assumption of control of Cambodia by the Vietnamese in support of their Cambodian…is a notably ambiguous issue,” historian Milton Osborne wrote in an e-mail.

“Deciding where an observer stands on that issue determines how one describes what took place, and its significance,” he added.


http://www.cambodiadaily.com/archive/th ... ouge-1383/
#14267649
Perhaps it was neither and all of those things?

As I understand it the Vietnamese invaded to put a stop to the constant skirmishes along the border being encouraged by the Khmer Rouge government. The mass starvation and places like Tuol Sleng/S-21 didn't really figure into the calculation. That being said this did put a stop to the 'killing fields'. So despite not setting out to do so, Vietnam ended up liberating people (I'm guessing a heap of people ended up dead or imprisoned too... but lets not complicate things too much). Then you have the subsequent occupation, which doesn't really fit in with liberation, but then again maybe we should see this as a matter of degrees rather than a yes/no thing.

I know even less about Hun Sen's ascension to his current position in government (did read a book that featured the UN mission in Cambodia which naturally featured Hun Sen's games a while back). You might be better able to answer this, was this more a question of the ambitions of one man, or was this really something engineered by the Vietnamese as they withdrew?
User avatar
By AFAIK
#14267674
Smilin' Dave wrote:As I understand it the Vietnamese invaded to put a stop to the constant skirmishes along the border being encouraged by the Khmer Rouge government.


Yes the Vietnamese were provoked. I want to focus on the commemoration of 7th January in Cambodia though. Not many countries celebrate the day a foreign army invaded and occupied their capital city.

Then you have the subsequent occupation, which doesn't really fit in with liberation, but then again maybe we should see this as a matter of degrees rather than a yes/no thing.


I agree that it isn’t a clear cut yes or no answer. I feel very ambivalent about it.

I know even less about Hun Sen's ascension to his current position in government (did read a book that featured the UN mission in Cambodia which naturally featured Hun Sen's games a while back). You might be better able to answer this, was this more a question of the ambitions of one man, or was this really something engineered by the Vietnamese as they withdrew?


Depends who you ask. Hun Sen is certainly very ambitious and his policies are popular with Hanoi even though local sentiment is often strongly anti-Vietnamese. He was happy to use Preah Vihea to focus anti-Thai sentiments and patriotism to gain public support.
#14268225
AFAIK wrote:Yes the Vietnamese were provoked. I want to focus on the commemoration of 7th January in Cambodia though. Not many countries celebrate the day a foreign army invaded and occupied their capital city.

True, although parallels could be drawn between VE and VJ day and similar - while the celebration is technically for the end of the war, for the defeated it was essentially the start of full occupation by the victors. Would I be right in thinking there wasn't a clear cut victory date over the Khmer Rouge for the Vietnamese army? I'm also reminded that Australia Day is often derided as 'Invasion Day' by some.
User avatar
By Eran
#14268266
AFAIK wrote:I want to focus on the commemoration of 7th January in Cambodia though. Not many countries celebrate the day a foreign army invaded and occupied their capital city.

Indeed.

More generally, people seem much more accepting of being brutally ruled by their own, compared with even a moderate and benign foreign rule.
User avatar
By AFAIK
#14268313
Smilin' Dave wrote:Would I be right in thinking there wasn't a clear cut victory date over the Khmer Rouge for the Vietnamese army? I'm also reminded that Australia Day is often derided as 'Invasion Day' by some.


You are right. The KR retreated to the Thai border and other remote areas (mountains). Many defected following negotiations with high ranking politicians mostly in 1990s. The current PM and half his cabinet are former KR.

The UNTAC was considered to be a paper tiger by KR soldiers because UN soldiers decided to turn around rather than remove a barrier blocking a road. Apparently the UN was there to "observe" and couldn't use force.

Article about Hun Sen

You are making the assumption that we will develo[…]

Ukrainegate

Annatar, the USA has been on the fault line of a […]

Twitter lover

Stop writing like you're a journalist.

What can we say. Populist leaders do a shit job.