A crowd of about 10,000 gathered Monday at the CPP’s Phnom Penh headquarters on Norodom Boulevard to mark the 29th anniversary of what party President Chea Sim called the “historical, glorious January 7, 1979, Victory Day.”
A Vietnamese army backing a contingent of Cambodians who fled Democratic Kampuchea began an offensive against the regime on Dec 25, 1978, and seized Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge on Jan 7, 1979.
Though Cambodia was liberated from the Khmer Rouge, the decade-long Vietnamese presence has led others, particularly those who oppose the CPP, to remember Jan 7 as the beginning of a foreign occupation.
“We note that there are still inconsiderate elements that continue to fight against Jan 7,” Chea Sim said in his speech within the CPP compound.
Chea Sim thanked the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and Cambodian fighters who “rescued” the nation from the Khmer Rouge and added that the CPP is seeking justice for victims of the regime through the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
“At the same time, we condemn any acts to use the courts in the aim of creating instability,” he said.
Chea Sim also said the CPP would continue to strengthen its ties with coalition partner Funcinpec.
Funcinpec Second Deputy President Prince Sisowath Sirirath, who sat on the dais at the celebration, said by telephone later in the day that he welcomed the speech.
He said that during the tumultuous years before the Paris Peace Agreement, Funcinpec referred to Jan 7 as the day when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, but that now they have revised their position.
“[F]or national reconciliation, we closed that old page and turned over a new leaf…. It has become a holiday now,” he said.
SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said he didn’t believe Jan 7 should be a holiday.
The real dates of national celebration are Nov 9, when Cambodia won independence from France in 1953, and Oct 23, the day that the Paris Peace Agreements officially ended the fighting and ushered in the UN Transitional Authority, he said.