Home > Local News > PM takes aim at Liberation Day critics

PM takes aim at Liberation Day critics

Cambodian top leaders, standing in a car from right, Prime Minister Hun
Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng
Samrin, wave as they lead a march to mark the 30th anniversary of the
fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Jan.
7, 2009. Thousands of Cambodians on Wednesday celebrated the fall of
the murderous regime 30 years ago as a UN-backed tribunal prepared to
finally try some of its key leaders for crimes against humanity. (AP
Photo/Heng)
Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out at opposition figures on Wednesday
who criticised the country’s celebration of January 7 as a day of
liberation from the Khmer Rouge, again emphasising the importance of
the day in Cambodian history.

Speaking at a high school
inauguration in Kampong Cham’s Memot district two days ahead of the
national holiday, the premier claimed all criticisms of the event were
motivated by politics.

“I would like to say that January 7
liberated everything, including ghosts and evil spirits and even
liberated the heads of those who are cursing January 7,” Hun Sen said.

The
holiday, commemorating the anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer
Rouge by the Vietnamese army in 1979, prompts an annual debate in
Cambodia about the extent of Vietnamese influence that was ushered in
by the event.

After Pol Pot’s overthrow, Vietnamese troops
remained in Cambodia, battling resistance factions including remnants
of the Khmer Rouge, until their withdrawal in September 1989.

But
Hun Sen said that if there was no January 7, there would be no Khmer
Rouge tribunal and the country would not have made any progress.

“Those
who consider January 7 as their enemy, would they dare say if there was
a genocidal regime of Pol Pot or not?” Hun Sen said.

Ke
Sovannroth, secretary general of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said
that the SRP did not consider the day as one of liberation, seeing it
rather as the birthday of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party – the
successor of the communist People’s Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea
that took power in 1979.

She said the country should instead mark the anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords as the day of the country’s liberation.

“We do not welcome this celebration,” Ke Sovannroth said.

“We
consider only the October 23, 1991, peace agreement as the day that
brought an end to the country’s disputes and brought development.”

Hun Sen said, however, that without the toppling of the Khmer Rouge, the Paris Peace Accords would never have been signed.

“I
would like to put the question at this point: If Pol Pot had continued
to have power until 1991, would Pol Pot [have] agreed to sign it?” he
said.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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