City Hall To Mark Thirty Years Since KR’s Fall

Phnom Penh City Hall is planning a massive celebration at Olym­pic Stadium involving more than 60,000 people to mark the upcoming 30th anniversary of the retaking of Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge.

On Jan 7, 1979, forces backed by Vietnam rolled into Phnom Penh, ending nearly four years of Khmer Rouge rule. The day has been controversial ever since, with the ruling CPP, which came to pow­er in the wake of the Khmer Rouge’s fall, singling it out as a rebirth of the nation, while many others revile it as the beginning of a 10-year occupation by the Vietnamese.

Regardless, Phnom Penh Dep­uty Governor Pa Socheatvong said that the municipality plans to bring 45,000 people from Kandal and 20,000 people from the capital—including students and state officials—to take part in a rally at the Olympic Stadium.

“We are still in discussions, but we just planned the place and the participants,” Pa Socheatvong said, adding that it is still uncertain how much the event will cost the municipality.

“We won’t use the government budget,” he said, “but we will call for donations.”

Chea Sokhom, deputy director-general of the government’s ceremonies committee, said there will also be a fireworks display.                                    “About the budget—the [CPP] party will consider getting donations,” he said.

The political opposition—many of whom were actively fighting against the Vietnamese-backed government during the 1980s—said they don’t believe Jan 7 should be a day of celebration.

“There is nothing welcome about January 7. It’s not a national anniversary,” SRP President Sam Rainsy said Thursday. “I promote only real national anniversaries such as November 9 [Indepen­dence Day] and October 23 [the sign­ing of the Paris Peace Accords].”

Constitutional Council member Son Soubert, who is a senior Hu­man Rights Party official, said that celebrating Jan 7 is the equivalent of commemorating a Vietnamese invasion, adding that the anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords signing—which was until recently a national holiday—should be the real day of celebration.


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