National Holiday – Victory over Genocide Day – Thursday, 7.1.2010

Posted on 8 January 2010. Filed under: Week 646 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

As every year, the memory of the 7 January 1979 shows that there is deep disagreement what this day in Cambodian history means. Of course any memorial day may have different aspects. But different statements in Cambodia show that there are fundamental differences in describing what has happened, related to this day.

What follows are some brief reports, reflecting different voices.

The speeches of the representatives of the government and of the Cambodian People’s Party see the significance of the day in what the official name of this holiday says: a commemoration of the victory over genocide. The end of the Khmer Rouge regime brought also an end to the tremendous loss of life and the suffering of the people of a degree never experienced in any other country. It initiated also a decade of Vietnamese presence – a decade of reconstruction after the devastation suffered under the Khmer Rouge regime.

The former King Sihanouk had expressed the meaning of this day some years ago in a very concrete way: Without this event, innumerable more Cambodian people would have lost their lives. This is a factual description.

Other voices state interpretations – this day initiated a Vietnamese presence for a decade. This is also a fact.

What is surprising is not that there are different opinions. Surprising is, when only one of the two elements is mentioned.

“French Indochina turned to Vietnamese Indochina.”

“Tomorrow is the 31st anniversary of the Vietnam invasion on Cambodia which consequently ruled over our country for 10 years and still continues its influence until today.” – There is not one word in this statement which would indicate that this day brought an end to a sequence of murderous years.

An anonymous blogger on the Internet wrote, in response to another voice: “You are stupid to say that: 7 January was an invasion not liberation.”

As the former president of the Federal Republic of Germany said 40 years after the defeat of the German state by the allied forces at the end of the Second World War in Europe, initiating the division of Germany and its occupation under military rule of forces from France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America: “First of all, this was a day of liberation.”

It is also surprising that in the different reflections on the 7 January 1979 we did not find any reference to the fact that the Khmer Rouge regime received considerable support from the People’s Republic of China.

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4 Responses to “National Holiday – Victory over Genocide Day – Thursday, 7.1.2010”

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“…received considerable support from the People’s Republic of China.”

…and were recognized as the legitimate government by the U. S. and other countries as well as the U. N. even after 1979.

Our reader KJE points to the fact that the Khmer Rouge government was recognized by the USA and others, and on the level of the UN General Assembly beyond 1979 – actually the big change happened in 1991.

This is a sad, but well known fact of history. The top leadership of the Khmer Rouge at that time are now facing the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

This shows that quite some changes happened in the meantime. The major international financial support for the Khmer Rouge trial comes from countries which claimed legality for the Khmer Rouge government until 1991. By doing what they do now, they distance themselves from their own previous positions.

What I had written dealt with the present:

“It is also surprising that in the different reflections on the 7 January 1979 we did not find any reference to the fact that the Khmer Rouge regime received considerable support from the People’s Republic of China.”

Well, yes, they distance themselves from their previous positions, but their mindset hasn’t changed as the war in Iraq and now Afghanistan aptly demonstrates. Politics is always about expediency and not about idealism.

The fact that reflections did not include China’s support is not really surprising considering the former King’s alliance with the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and after 1979. So dealing with the present of this issue will always involve the past as well, which again is clearly shown in the different views the political parties in Cambodia espouse about this date.


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