King Norodom Sihanouk on Thursday denied again having any involvement in the Khmer Rouge regime and blamed the US-backed Lon Nol government for “making mistakes” and inciting the brutal regime that took the lives of more than 1 million people.
The King‘s statement was faxed to The Cambodia Daily and other news organizations Thursday, three days after the 32nd anniversary of the 1970 Lon Nol coup. It is the first statement related to the Khmer Rouge the King has made since the UN pulled out of the Khmer Rouge tribunal talks on Feb 8.
“I did not create the war which affected the Cambodian motherland,” the King wrote. “I did not make a message which asked my beloved people to go to the forest and join the Khmer Rouge.”
The King began the statement by blaming Lon Nol for staging a coup on March 18, 1970, and accused Lon Nol of killing his loyalists who demonstrated in support of the King.
He also pointed a finger at the US, saying it “made a serious mistake in Cambodia. In 1970, after the [Lon Nol] coup, many American students protested against [then US president] Richard Nixon’s government.”
He said he returned to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge victory over Lon Nol in 1975 because he wanted to share the lives and suffering of the people, not to become the leader of Democratic Kampuchea.
“I did not join the Khmer Rouge,” he wrote, noting that the regime also killed his family members.
Royal Palace Cabinet officials said they did not know why the King released the message.