January 7 1979
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Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 94
This 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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
Watching 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“.
- 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).
Letter to Editor: The Phnom Penh Post
Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2009
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)
On 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:
January 7 and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
|Ms. Theary Seng, Dec. 2011|
January 11, 2012
By Theary Seng
Letter to The Phnom Penh Post