In a celebration much smaller than earlier planned, about 500 CPP officials gathered Tuesday at Apsara television station to mark the 25th anniversary of the formation of the anti-Pol Pot resistance, said the station’s general director, Sok Ey San.
The daylong session, attended by members of the CPP’s Central Committee, was sharply scaled down from the 10,000-strong celebration that CPP officials had originally planned. On Monday, however, CPP officials said that since Tuesday was not a national holiday, they decided not to ask their members to miss work to attend the ceremony.
In an opening speech that was broadcast on all television stations, CPP President Chea Sim praised the Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation for its part in the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime on Jan 7, 1979.
“Although 25 years have passed already, the people always remember,” Chea Sim said. “The massive success [of the movement] helped lead the country to survive. The people regard Jan 7 as their second birthday. If there wasn’t Jan 7, there would be
nothing right now.”
He added, “Currently people live with freedom, democracy and changed from the dictatorship regime to the rule of law.”
Reporters were denied access to the station, which Sok Ey San said the CPP had rented for the ceremony for $500.
In contrast to Chea Sim’s comments, others gave a grim depiction of the resistance movement’s achievements.
“All Khmers of the younger generation must remember that Dec 2 is the historical day that was organized by Hanoi to control Cambodia,” the Khmer Front Party Secretary-General Mao Samoeurn wrote in a statement Nov 29.
Blaming the resistance front for the decade-long Vietnamese occupation that followed the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, Mao Samoeurn called on the public to participate in a nonviolent demonstration on Jan 7.
“The Khmer Front Party would like to appeal to all Khmer local and overseas compatriots to attack the invaders,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pen Sovann, one of the founders of the resistance front, issued an open letter detailing his account of the formation of the front.
Pen Sovann, who is now president of the Cambodian National Sustaining Party, wrote that in 1978, he recruited 14 dignitaries “to lead the Cambodian people to stand up and topple the genocide regime.” Among those recruited were CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin, Chea Sim and Prime Minister Hun Sen, the party’s vice president.
On the day of the front’s inauguration in Kratie province’s Snuol district, he said, he appointed Heng Samrin as chairman of the front.
Pen Sovann said he had secured a promise from Vietnam to help the resistance movement fight against the Pol Pot regime “with no conditions.”
“Those promises are 180 degrees in contrast,” he wrote. “When our country was liberated, Vietnam did not keep its promises.”
The Vietnamese army helped establish a pro-Hanoi government led by members of the resistance front, many of whom are still influential within the CPP.
Pen Sovann said he was arrested Dec 2, 1981, and spent more than 10 years in a Hanoi prison after demanding Cambodia’s independence from Vietnam. He was later sacked from the CPP and now lives in Takeo province.
On Tuesday, the Apsara television station broadcast an anti-Khmer Rouge movie, titled “Prison Without Walls,” to coincide with the anniversary celebration.