The history has challenged most of Cambodian leaders and people. In this article, my personal observation comes to a conclusion that “Vietnam’s attempt to expand their territory as well as to dominate over Cambodia has deeply stemmed in all Vietnamese leaders’ mentality in which this tenet has also triggered sensitivity to Cambodian people and leaders.”
This political essay is initially focusing on three essential aspects: the Vietcong war, Khmer Rouge regime and Khmer Rouge’s international tribunal.
The Vietcong War
Most Cambodian people are in doubts of Vietcong war which why this southern group of Vietnamese military fought against USA imperialism? This is incredible for many American cultural interpreters have misunderstood that North and South Vietnamese actual disliked and fought with each other. Finally, American learned a precious lesson from their fatal foreign war.
This phenomenon reflects that many Cambodian leaders have always been aware that the coalition of Vietnamese (North & South) intimidats peace, security and sovereignty of Cambodia. This sensitivity led to the mass massacre targeted Vietnamese community in Lon Nol regime (1970-75), after he successfully ousted King Sihanouk. Lon Nol was a spy of America CIA as well as many other insurgent groups in the forest. Pol Pot regime that their cadres mostly based in the forest toppled Lon Nol in 1975 and began their mission to eliminate Vietnamese race who are living in Cambodia.
King Sihanouk is critical for his decision to allow Viet Minh army (North) and Viet Cong army (South) used Cambodia land to mobilize their forces and supplies to fight against America. America took this opportunity to bomb and destroy Cambodian villages wilderly.
There are debates about the origin of the Khmer Rouge. Both sides accept that Khmer Rouge was created by Vietnam named Khmer Viet Minh in 1949 and after that Vietnam created another group of Khmer Rouge named Kampuchea Democrat Party in 1966. Again, Vietnam was the master to unite this two distinctive Khmer Rouge groups into one party. But the unification didn’t easily implement as these two groups had hustle separation. Many historians called this separation as “a rough divorce.” However, observers saw clearly that Vietnamese army was still assisting both sides.
Lon Nol government was purely backed by US; and there was vicious battling at the border with Viet Cong who used Cambodian land to mobilize their forces and attached labels as said “Sihanouk Lovers.” Tons of America’s bombs targeted those insurgents but misled to damage only Cambodian villagers. Many of them joint Khmer Rouge in the jungle to rally against America.
With this Viet Cong war manifests some view of Cambodian leaders. The cause of Cambodia tragedy should be inevitably caused by US’s bombs, Vietnam’s domination policy and excessive passion for power of Khmer leaders.
Khmer Rouge Regime
In 17 April 1975, Cambodian people from all walks of life came out from their home, including Buddhist monks, greeted and sang the revolutionary song the victory of Khmer Rouge over corrupted government of Lon Nol and the bombardment cancellation of America. Only a short moment, this appreciative inauguration became sorrow and tears. People in the cities were forcibly evacuated to live in other unknown zones. They are forced to work hard in the rice fields to accomplish their agrarian utopia policy. Lon Nolian soldiers were shot to dead in lines, monks were defrocked, educated were suspected and sentenced to death. In rice paddies, those ordinary people were daily died by starvation, execution and serious sick. During 3 years, 8 months and 28 days, Cambodian population estimatedly died 1.7 millions by the international survey after the tragedy regime ended.
Recently, there is a Cambodian young group who gather together to debate about the Khmer Rouge. It is very interesting that those young youths initially reflect their thought that Khmer Rouge killers were innocent. As those Khmer Rouge cadres who commanded to kill the people are under 18 years old. They are too young to take accountable of the killing field. The killing machine is too complicate. Sometime, an important leader of KR, Kiev Samphon responded that he was ware what many people had been killed.
Many KR cadres who are surviving said that “Angkar commanded to kill, if we don’t kill or do follow what they commanded, we would be accused as Angkar’s traitor or killed.”
Killing machine was systematically organized to kill Cambodian people. For example, today Mr. A kills Mr. B; tomorrow Mr. C will kills Mr. A. and another person will kill Mr. C in another day. All those cadres well perceived themselves that one day they will be also killed.
The question for Cambodian people continues to argue broadly that what is the Angkar? And who is behind this killing machine? Khmers will kill Khmers like that? Or there was some interference from foreign countries?
Khmer Rouge’s International Tribunal
There are hot arguments about this tribunal while UN and Cambodian government are preparing the trial.
Some people agree that this trial is important to bring all remaining Khmer Rouge leaders to court. This trial will bring justice to the victims and their relatives, to stop the culture of impunity, to prohibit humanity atrocity happened again, and to develop democracy and human rights respect in Cambodia.
But some people still see that this trial is not genuinely justice and intentionally finding justice for the victims. It is just political mechanism that at least few groups benefit from this trial. As this trial is polluted by politicizing; the trial is moving forward slowly like a creeping turtle.
Under the agreement of UN and Cambodian government, this trial will proceed in Cambodia, only suspected Khmer Rouge leaders will be summoned and no demanding or allowing any other affiliated countries will be showed in this trial.
The second group argues that the trial can benefit three partners: the UN, Cambodian people and Vietnam. UN can justify that all the international crimes or war crimes have to be tried according the international criminal law like they had implemented case of Rwanda, Sierra Leone, East Timor, and Kosovo. But case of KR will be implemented inside Cambodia with the sharing of judge between foreigners and Cambodians. Experts have called this trial as “half blood child (court)”. Cambodian people will get the slightest benefit from this trial because the court is like a soap opera. The important leaders of KR leaders are gradually passed away by old aged. Only Cambodian People Party (CPP) inside Cambodia has benefited their politic campaign from this trial. Several times, the leaders of this party claimed their legitimacy and credits in saving Khmer lives from diminishing of KR. They have never mentioned the invasion of Vietnam or repeat the agreement with UN that Vietnam's occupation was absolutely illegal.
Their liberation day invaded by Vietnam in January 7, 1979 has been annually inaugurated. Especially, it is the national holiday of Cambodia. Vietnam is only one country outside of Cambodia that has huge benefit from this trial. UN accused Vietnam of invading Cambodia. It is illegal to spread the forces and control everything in Cambodia between “1979-1989.” However, the trial and condemnation of the KR pertains the legitimacy of Vietnam’s invasion. Nowadays, Vietnam still keeps close contact with CPP, a party that is leading the country, once this party was absolutely created and fostered by Vietnam. Cambodian people still see this close contact as dangerous for Cambodian future sovereignty and independence. Vietnam is still playing the game of saving in the front, but demolishing in the behind.
However, Khmer Rouge trial is moving very slow and sometime paused very long, most of the time, experts said "it is hijacked by Hun Sen to gain his political campaign from this trial."