January 7 1979

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Posted by: | Posted on: January 22, 2017

The day of January 7 celebration imposed by the CPP has gradually come to its end

Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 94

janauary-7-2009This part (94), Mr. Sophan articulated on the regular anniversary celebration of January 7 day imposed by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). His key view on this day is the decreasing its value from year to year. Each year, the anniversary celebration has posited its theme in according to the need for change of the Cambodian people. But the decrease of vote in each election mandate, the CPP has seems been negligent by not stopping to celebrate this day.

Needless to say, this celebration has been observed by the scholars that it is like putting Cambodians people into a cage and let them fight against each other. But when this celebration has decreasingly been paid attention by the Cambodian population, its value is moving fast towards its ending.

Celebration this day and the ongoing impunity of broad day light murdering towards well-known Cambodian activists such as Chea Vichea, Chut Vutthy, and Kem Ley etc. has placed CPP in its continual loss of people support and eventual annihilation, but why this party’s leader(s) are still embracing them without make them better?

Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2017

Why Did Vietnam Overthrow the Khmer Rouge in 1978?

Op-Ed: Khmer Time

Why Did Vietnam Overthrow the Khmer Rouge in 1978?

PHNOM PENH Aug. 7 (Khmer Times) – For historians, a black hole yawns in modern Cambodian history.

German historian Bernd Schaefer, studied East German files from the 1980s to get insights into Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia. Here he pauses from history lectures at Phnom Penh’s Meta House. (KT Photo: Chor Sokunthea)

German historian Bernd Schaefer, studied East German files from the 1980s to get insights into Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia. Here he pauses from history lectures at Phnom Penh’s Meta House. (KT Photo: Chor Sokunthea)

This is the decade after Vietnamese  troops expelled  the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh, on January 7, 1979. For another 10 years, Cambodia was run virtually as a Vietnamese colony, until September 1989, when the last Vietnamese troops left Cambodia.

Today, none of the major players has any incentive to open archives for historians.

In Vietnam, the Communist Party of Vietnam continues it unbroken hold on power. In Moscow, Soviet KGB archives have been sealed on orders of President Putin, a former KGB colonel.

And in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen got his political start 35 years ago, when he was appointed a Deputy Prime Minister of the Vietnamese-installed government in Cambodia.

Bernd Schaefer, a German historian of the Cold War era, has found a unique end run around this history blackout.

 East German Archives

He studies the East German secret police and diplomatic files on Cambodia and Vietnam during this hidden decade.

Next to the Soviet KGB, East Germany’s Stasi secret police was the main training partner of Vietnam’s secret police.  In 1978, Vietnam became a full member of the

Soviet Union’s COMECON economic bloc and signed a friendship treaty with Moscow. Until the collapse of communist East Germany in 1990, its diplomats had wide access to political reporting from Communist ambassadors stationed in Hanoi and Phnom Penh.

Every year, Schaefer, a senior scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Cold War International History Project in Washington, travels to Phnom Penh to lecture on Cambodian history at Meta House. Between lectures, he sat down at Villa Langka for an extensive interview with the Khmer Times.

Why did Vietnam invade Cambodia in December 1978?

“From the East German files I have seen, from early 1978 on, the Vietnamese were committed to replace him, to get rid of Pol Pot, and to get a sympathetic government in Phnom Penh,” said Schaefer. “In Hanoi’s eyes, a government friendly to Vietnam was absolutely essential to the security of Vietnam.”

Starting in 1977, the Khmer Rouge conducted cross border raids into Vietnam, killing thousands of Vietnamese civilians. Khmer Rouge leaders spoke openly of wanting to conquer historically Khmer lands in what is modern Vietnam.

Holding Vietnam back was fear of a military reaction by China, the primary geopolitical ally of the Khmer Rouge.

“They were afraid that if Vietnam moved into Cambodia, then the Chinese would move into Vietnam, and then you would have a two front war,” said Schaefer, referring to East German diplomatic cables.

Fear of Chinese Soldiers

In December, 1977, a half-hearted invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam raised the specter in Hanoi of Vietnamese soldiers fighting Chinese soldiers in Cambodia.

“They captured a lot of advisors from China and North Korea, and they extrapolated what were a lot of Chinese soldiers in Cambodia,” Schaefer said of the December 1977 invasion, which stopped 38 kilometers short of Phnom Penh. “Later, when the Vietnamese actually did invade, many of the Chinese they thought were troops were actually construction workers, advisors. And they did not put up a fight.”

Through 1978, the Khmer Rouge continued to attack Vietnamese border towns, and the Vietnamese plotted the timing of a fullscale invasion. They chose a time when China’s leadership was distracted.

The Vietnamese invaded on Dec. 25, 1978, right after a highly divisive Chinese Communist Party plenary session in Beijing. In addition to this distraction, China’s paramount leader of the time, Deng Xiaoping,  was preparing to normalize China’s relations with the United States on Jan. 1, 1979, and to make a groundbreaking trip to the United States on Jan. 29. Hanoi seized this window. Its troops reached Phnom Penh in 13 days, on Jan. 7. The West was largely distracted with Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

China’s Punishment

China’s punishment of Vietnam came on Feb.17, barely two weeks after Deng returned from the United States. China’s cross border attack on Northern Vietnam was purely punitive. Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia for a decade.

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Posted by: | Posted on: January 6, 2017

The day of January 7 has become Cambodia political antique

Political Analysis:

Today has marked 38 years when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia to dispel Khmer Rouge. The retreat of KR to station at the borderline between Cambodia and Thailand to anchor its last resort of fighting against foreign occupation was happening in the same time of Vietnam’s plan to successfully install their regime body in Cambodia through the public banner of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Since then, this party has been believed was led by Cambodians but aided wholeheartedly by Vietnamese experts; and this party has celebrated the January 7 every year to ascertain their motto of “liberation Cambodia from the killing field of the Khmer Rouge” while the KR itself has become gradually disappeared from memory and its meaning from the Cambodian people.

Many post cold war movements, banners, and installing regimes have become antique which are unsalable, non-impressive, and gradually disappearing. The day of January 7 is one of them. After the election in 2013, the CPP didn’t make much public appeal of this day although Prime Minister Hun Sen promised with Vietnam during his short visit to the country. His returning back was expected to make this day as ever-making public celebration by spending huge amount of money to arrange it. Instead, his return immediately lined up arm-forces to halt all types of demonstration: conducted bloody shooting by authority towards garment workers in Veng Sreng street who demanded for $160 monthly raise, and demolishing CNRP’s stronghold freedom expression site at the freedom park, including many other bloody incidents happened. There were not much impressive years after that for January 7 day.


Courtesy: Facebook

This year, CPP is organizing this day under the frenzy of mocking public eyes especially from youths and those savvy social media individuals. While almost all government sectors are holding group to celebrate the day without worrying of “conflict of interest” in their government’s public servants and positions, the social media individuals are virally spreading interests and opinions opposing this day. A facebook post said “Vietnam killed millions of Cambodian people, burned millions of Cambodian houses, plundered millions of Cambodian resources and assets, and Vietnam just boiled 10 eggs to give one each among those 10 people, so those 10 people who has consumed eggs have invited Cambodians entire nation to pay gratitude and thankful to Vietnam“.  And other post asked “what is the meaning of January 7, 1979 and April 17, 1975? Which one we must remember?” etc.

In conclusion, the decrease of popularity witnessed by election 2013 is likely caused by the deep intervention of Vietnam over Cambodia through Vietnam’s installing banner inheriting as CPP, and it is likely caused by CPP that has held strong idea to pay gratitude towards Vietnam. Hence, academics and observers have asked why CPP is holding this strong idea of paying gratitude towards Vietnam without prejudice or learning from past policy failed by taking Cambodian people voice as a key indicator?

Read more articles from previous years for your insight…

Posted by: | Posted on: January 6, 2016

I do abstain from talking about January 7 with strong rationales


Talking about the January 7, 1979 Anniversary, personally, as a Cambodian younger generation, I am ashamed to mouth about it.

janauary-7-2009Watching this cartoon, sometime, I believe by speaking out the past, the Trauma of Cambodian people (especially my family elders) could be healed. But everything is like Adele sang that “They say that time’s supposed to heal ya, But I ain’t done much healing…” in her current popular song “Hello“.

From this cartoon, why Khmer Rouge has been stereotyped as Devil when those are also Khmers? How many generations more that Khmer shall learn to say “Sorry” and learn to “Forgive”?
There are accounts recalling the importance of January 7 day, but how much the brain of younger Cambodian generation could be developed when they are good in parroting to follow the upper echelon, or dare not question the wrong doing of the elders, or strongly believing in only one side of the coin etc. I would like to invite everyone to listen to what Sovanna’s Uncle talked through his pragmatic voice “Freedom is like racing through a mine field, it demands sacrifice…, everyone look at it (Cambodia) like a battered child who are so traumatized….”
This year, I do abstain from talking about January 7 because I have much rationale behind it:
  • Historical recorded, or according to the culture of lineage, Cambodian leaders from the past to present are good in fighting against their own people or among their own circle. Most of the time, Cambodian leaders are under the yoke of foreign vanguard. So, the cold war keyly projected Cambodia like that which is not different from every part of the world.
  • While Hiroshima and Nagasaki have paid less attention towards the US Atomic Bombs, Germany people have paid less attention towards the Nazi Hitler after the Berlin wall was totally demolished, and many stories to disclose about the aura of outdated cold war, but why Cambodia is so much keen and ingrained into such self-inflicted politics of Jan. 7 Anniversary?
  • As a pragmatist, I will not instruct my kids about family’s circle fighting but I tend to instruct them about our family’s circle bonding by exposing the bad fighting from an inventory story (Puggalathidhana). 
Thus, I have closely monitored about the different themes of Jan. 7 Anniversary celebrated by the CPP. I have seen less visual theme for 2014, 2015 and 2016; but I saw some change of theme in 2009 as shared below:

Letter to Editor: The Phnom Penh Post

Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2009

The January 7 celebrations in context

Written by Sophan Seng

Wednesday, 07 January 2009

Dear Editor,

It is a great privilege for me to write something about how the day of January 7 simply reflects the thought of a Cambodian. Of course, January 7 is still an ongoing controversial day. Some people see it as the day of foreign occupation over Cambodian sovereignty, but others see this day as their second life when Vietnamese troops toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.

However, to celebrate this day is not significantly representing Cambodians as the whole nation. It is only celebrated by the Cambodian People’s Party, which has been in power since the day of January 7, 1979.

In the past, the celebration of January 7 was likely to honour the victory over the Khmer Rouge regime and aimed to condemn, to ban the Khmer Rouge and make it impossible for them to control the country again, and, legally, to sentence them to death in absentia.

But in this year, the theme of the celebration after its 30 years in power, according to the news, is that the CPP will focus on increasing the awareness of sovereignty protection, economic development and leading Cambodia to enjoy a further level of advancement.

Hence, the January 7 day has significantly belonged to the CPP. It has not been generally accepted by the Cambodian people. Whatever theme each celebration expects to achieve, those themes still belong to the CPP, and it is truly reminding Cambodian people of the brutality, the foreign invasion and the nonstop division among Cambodian nationals.

I understand that the CPP holds this day as very important for their internal bond and achievement of pride, particularly the victory during each national election. This day might not work any longer to recall the brutality of the Khmer Rouge because by doing so, it might not be smart to pursue national unity, long-sighted leadership, national reconciliation and an advance of Cambodia to further achievement in the age of globalisation.

Sophan Seng
PhD student in political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2015

Today is January 7, 2015: what have we learnt on Cambodia history?

Comment: as for the food of thought, article here is taken from History and the Headlines and photos here are taken from Maha Phirum Facebook and many paper works to reflect on this day at the middle.

Cambodia, Vietnamese Occupation of (1978–1992)

January 7 1On 25 December 1978, Vietnamese armed forces invaded Cambodia, ushering in an occupation lasting nearly thirteen years. This incursion marked the first and only extended war between communist regimes and led to a brief but bloody border war between Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Moreover, the occupation added to the tremendous suffering that Cambodia endured during the Cold War and greatly affected Southeast Asia.The origins of the Vietnamese-Cambodian conflict are complex and reach far back into history. The Vietnamese and Khmer (Cambodian) Empires had been bitter rivals for centuries. By the early 1800s, much of Cambodia had come under Vietnamese rule or was forced to pay tribute to it. This gave rise to deep-seated animosities that survived decades of French colonial rule, Japanese occupation during World War II, and two Indochinese conflicts spanning nearly thirty years.

Some interesting documentaries:

1. Vietnamese invasion in 1979

2. Interviewing Mr. Buy Teen, a former Vietnamese high ranking military staff in Cambodia on “Why Vietnam Withdrew troops from Cambodia?”

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Posted by: | Posted on: January 11, 2012

January 7 and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

January 7 and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Ms. Theary Seng, Dec. 2011

January 11, 2012
By Theary Seng
Letter to The Phnom Penh Post

Dear Editor,
January 7 is indeed a significant day for survivors of the Khmer Rouge. It arrested the macabre convulsions that would have swallowed all of us into a hellish hole if the Vietnamese military had not intervened.
It is a bittersweet day of commemoration through invasion.
And now, unfortunately, it is a day propagandised to be solely the Day of Liberation, neatly sweeping away the equally important fact of it being simultaneously the inaugurating day of an occupation that would last for the next decade.
That occupation began with the barricading of Phnom Penh to facilitate the plundering of its wealth by convoys of trucks heading to Vietnam and the mass crimes of the K5 plan.
My hairdresser remembers returning from Battambang to his home in Boeung Keng Kang I on February 3, 1979, only to find that all the wealthy neighbourhoods of villas and jewellery stores were still barricaded off.
It was an occupation cut short only by the meltdown of the Cold War – specifically, the break-up of the Soviet Union, which funded the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia.

Read More …