A Return to Where National Salvation from Pol Pot’s Genocide Started
Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Ladies, and Gentlemen, and beloved people of Koh Thmar village, today, I return to the land where we commenced our salvation movement to liberate the country from the regime of genocide. Today, forty years ago, I was in about 200 meters into Vietnam territory. I sat waiting for the sun to rise. About 8 o’clock in the morning, because there was heavy rain from the night before, our crossing into Vietnam territory was at night, so daybreak was late […] I thank the people of Koh Thmar, who could be my parents, brothers, nephews, for fostering me with love from the very beginning. I received their warmth not only from 1975 through to 1977, but also since 1970. It was this same place that we gathered and reported to the Marquis. Kdol village is not far from here. About 300 of young men, me included, went into the Marquis. Later, it was a place where we left for help in Vietnam.
I have come across two men of Koh Thmar – Maan and Suum. Tchoey and a few others whom I knew already passed away. They were my former soldiers since 1970. The villagers of Koh Thmar went through one of the war challenges with me on 1 May 1970, when the American and South Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia […] In September 1975 I came here after my eye wound treatment that leaves me with only one eye. My name was on a disable soldiers list in the region of Chhak Niek, Dambe district. However, with his good knowledge of my ability, Chum Horl, one of my former commanders, asked for my transference to this place […] I thank our people here for their amicability which was not for one or two days, but 47 years already, since 1970.
I remember a time in early 1971 people here already organized a funeral ceremony for me after I was lost in a fight of six of us with about 600 American and South Vietnamese forces. We were ambushed by invaders. I lost my way in deep forest. People thought I was killed. I made it in the end back to this place and saw they were organizing a funeral for me – thought to die in the fight.
Losing Hun Kamsat, A Revenge Would not Yield
After I came to stay here, I was summoned for a wedding in late 1975 in Tbong Khmom. My wife came here. I remember that we got married on 5 January 1976 […] On 8 January 1976 my wife arrived in Koh Thmar. I brought her to see people, elderly people and families of friends here. We met and were together here for just a few days. On 12 January 1976, we were separated and my wife had to leave me to work on levees of rice field. Later, as you may have known, my wife gave birth to our very first child […] On 10 November 1976, it was a coincidence that I was permitted to travel with my commanders to the district of Peam Jilang. They set up a new district, which a part of it was from the district of Kroch Chhmar and another part of it was from the district of Tbong Khmom. I took the chance to see my wife.
I came to my shocking before a tragedy that any human being couldn’t bear. If I were to make a careless decision because of rage, I could have lost my life. It was a tragedy that my first child slipped off the midwife’s hands and broke his spine. My wife was brought to an adjacent room. I was with my child. I asked my commander for permission to stay and burry my son by myself at my native village. He denied my request … Our people and foreign friends could have understood this feeling of a father and a husband over such a tragedy. I had with me two pistols. Should I be impatient and shot that commander dead, what would have happened? My wife and I would have faced deaths too. Patience that moment has kept me alive till today, and it was a major part for leading this country to this time. If I were to shoot that commander, I could have put an end to a bigger plan. Later, I had brought my wife here for a traditional midwife in Koh Thmar to help with her post-delivery problem […]
Hun Manet – A Son Given by the Spirit of Koh Thmar
I came across children of brother Yal, whom I went and had lunch at his house before I left. They were not born yet. It was forty years ago. Before answering why I did not bring my wife with me, let me tell you first why I decided to take up armed resistance, and I did not go for help from Vietnam? I brought my wife to save her life from post-delivery complication. Months later, my wife bore pregnancy of my second child, Hun Manet. You may remember that there was a huge Jrei tree to that side and there was a hut underneath erected for the spirit of the tree. The spirit was so powerful. Before my marriage, I dreamt of an old man giving me a piece of silk skirt. I asked a senior soldier from the radio and communication unit, brother Chhum, what the dream meant. He told me you would be married soon. Days later, I was summoned for my own wedding. The day that Manet came to her mother’s womb, there was a big flying fire from the Jrei tree and flew over my house roof. I had come to mind that maybe this son of mine is a gift from the Jrei tree spirit […]
Why did I not keep my wife here? I could say that because I anticipated danger and I was preparing myself for armed clashes with Pol Pot. I thought that it was just a matter of time. If I were to keep her with me, I would have been distracted in any eventual fighting and she was pregnant for the second time too. I decided to send my wife in tears to a hospital in Samraong, the commune of Dar.
Why Armed Struggle to Liberate Our Nation from Pol Pot
On 20 June, which was yesterday, at that very moment, it was the most difficult time and I had to make a final decision. There were no easy choices. In the booklets distributed, there was only this mentioning of me leaving the country from here. Let me narrate a bit more about why armed struggle for national liberation? It was not a resistance carried out in haste but carefully crafted one. To answer this question, I may say would it be necessary to organize national salvation, if we were in time as we are today. National salvation that some used in the present time is not correct. In fact, national salvation is a monopole of the people of Cambodia. In those days, we were not able to campaign for elections, asking for freedom or democracy. If we could do that, if we could organize political party, I did not have to organize armed resistance to liberate the country. We could not demand freedom from Pol Pot, let alone freedom of expression, travel, political right, or even right to life […]
Four Options Available Before Asking for Help from Vietnam
The second question would be why I went to Vietnam for help. Well, I may speak of four available options that I had. Firstly, I had the chance to order my force to fight and occupy the districts of Tromoung, Mehmot, and some other areas by my regiment […] It was hard to decide on 20 June that year what to do, fight or not. I took up my arms three times … I hold my K59 pistol which I had it in my backpack. I was second away from ordering a fight. However, thinking that the force would sustain severe retaliation force and destroyed, I decided to stay off. Military option then was not a fruitful solution. My second option was to withdraw myself and reorganize the resistance force and movement. The third option available was to allow myself be arrested and killed like others, and the fourth one was to just end my life with my pistol. Finally, the second option proved to be the best but I had to wait for three friends – Nuth Than, Nhek Huon and Su Kim Sreang aka San Sanh. Let me show you before us stand children of Nuth Than, Pao Ean, Nhek Huon, and San Sanh. They are here to represent their fathers […]
A Letter Difficult to Write
At about 2 pm, on 20 June, I ordered opening of rice warehouses. I let our people take them and quenched their hungers […] I needed about two hours to write a short letter. It was hard to find the right words to explain my feeling and what I was about to do. Tears came into my eyes in a room erected when my wife came and stayed with me […] Finally, I found a way to tell my wife – “My Dear Pitiful Rany, when you read this letter, I am already away and I myself do not even know where I am.” How could I know? I had no idea where I was or was going. I could have faced assassination, or I had to change direction of my journey. The best way to say it is to know of nowhere I was or went. I also ended the letter with a sentence that went “I part now and wish to see you again in an indefinite time.”
At about 4 pm, I gave the letter and some herbal medicines for post-delivery supplement to someone to take them to my wife. I went back to waiting for Nuth Than, Nhek Huon, and San Sanh. Pao Ean was already at the commanding headquarter with me. At about 8 pm, I took out a lighter to light up a kerosene lamp. You would not know what happened then unless you were me. There was a strong voice coming to my ears from the Jrei tree to tell me to leave immediately. I was not in a nightmare. I felt like there were lights all around me coming from the Jrei tree spirit hut. It was so vocal almost breaking my ears drums. Not long later my friends Nuth Than, Nhek Huon, and San Sanh arrived. I told them I decided to take myself out of the clan and decided to reorganize resistance movement and force […]
In fact, I had two plans. If they were to disagree with my plan, I would order my bodyguards to tie them up and leave for Angkar, while I would lead my soldiers to escape. I would not think of taking with me a big troop anyway to cross to another country […] it was very bitterly suffering that we had to leave. Many had asked to come along. I had to divert their attentions […]
Vietnam and Cambodia Helps Each Other
I would talk more about this when I get to the border. However, I have one more question to explain. Why did I go for help from Vietnam? Dear compatriots, you may want to think about it. We were 200 Kilometers away from Laos. Would you like to think if Laos was able to do anything to help us? How could we go from there to Thailand, and we did not know if Thailand would be ready to help. As for Vietnam, it was close and it was not a new thing to do.
Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk also asked help from Vietnam to liberate the country. Lon Nol also asked South Vietnamese and the American troops to fight inside Cambodia. Why could those people do it? Many leaders in other countries led their resistances from a foreign country. Vietnam also asked for help from Cambodia and their leaders never forget to thank us. You may remember that at the time that there was war in Vietnam, our people in Koh Thmar sold them rice and medicines along the border.
Assisting each other is a normal issue. In France, there was this invasion by Germany. The French government in 1940s surrendered and organized a government that was subservient to Germany. Charles De Gaul escaped to the United Kingdom and issued from there on 18 June 1940 a declaration. He stayed in the UK till 14 June 1944 to lead resistance force to liberate Paris on 25 July 1944 … You can recollect it was not only Hun Sen who had to leave the country for a national resistance … I asked for help from Vietnam was not wrong. Without the Vietnamese help, were we able to liberate the country? It was not a fairy tale […]
Khmer Rouge Trial Recognized, Toppling Pol Pot, Vietnam Assistance Were Not Wrong
Numerous documentary photos portrayed actors in the establishment of the armed forces of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea. I was the highest commander. Before 20 June 1977, I was just a soldier who would take order from senior line in command. However, from 20 June 1977 until now, I have become a leader who stays attached to national process. I left the country for a few months and returned to Cambodia. In November or December 1977, I returned to Samraong in the commune of Dar, and in April 1978, I came to Koh Thmar. I did not enter the village though […]
I thank you all for taking your time to come here to learn about history of how one of the many actors started his resistance for rebirth and survival of the Cambodian people, and to save the country from the genocide. We are now in the process of bringing the war and genocidal criminals to trials. If they recognize that the trial is a correct thing to do, that I led the struggle with other forces under the roof of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea, and the assistance rendered by Vietnam were not wrong.
Koh Thmar Never Gives Less Than 70% Votes for CPP
I wish to remind you that in the fourth term commune/Sangkat elections, 79.80% of voters in Koh Thmar gave their votes to the Cambodian People’s Party … I would add further because the booklet does not mention what had happened on 20 June. I should mention about a messenger, whom I should mention here as one very respectable faithful man. Lives of my wife and my son in her womb were in that man’s hand. If he were to let it break out, my wife would have been killed. This faithfulness deserves respect … It has been noted that in every elections, votes in Koh Thmar for the Cambodian People’s Party never goes lower than 70%. In 2007, I came here and there were only two votes for other parties […]
A Military Organization Established Here
I am grateful to the Ministry of National Defense and concerned commissions for organizing such a meaningful trip today to recall memories of the process to commence the march towards toppling the regime of genocide. It was from here a military organization was established. In 1970, responding to the call of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and then Royal Government led by Samdech Pen Nuth, the political organization came first, and there were no military organization. As for this national liberation movement from the genocide, the armed forces came before political organization, and I was the one who got the military organization going […]
Having said that does not mean that I do not recognized other forces led by HE Say Phuthong, Tia Banh in Koh Kong, HE Bou Thaong, HE Souey Keo, and Bun Ni in the Northeast, followed by bigger rebellious movement in the eastern region. That provided further forces and chance for us to occupy areas from district of Mehmot to Snuol. We were then able to establish political organization – National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea […]
Hun Family to Defend Peace
Some have nurtured plan to eliminate the Hun family. Let me present to our people here my three sons. This is the elder son that the Jrei spirit has given me. The third and fourth sons are also soldiers. The Hun family has always been sharing hardships with people. We in the Hun family would not consider this country our exclusive country, but we are to defend peace for it, the throne, Constitutional monarchy, HM the King, the Constitution, and every national achievements. Let there be no instigation from anyone to create turmoil […]
Let me thank you all once again for the amicability and nurturing from people in Koh Thmar … I did not commit any sins here in Koh Thmar and their villagers. It was a village of about 100 households before but it has grown bigger now … Let me end it here. I thank you again for coming and we will figure out in the future what we can do together. I wish you all good health and successes./.