Mixed Reaction to Celebration of KR’s Fall

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday that as many as 10,000 people could at­tend the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge on Sat­ur­day, while the ultra-nationalist Khmer Front Party said it is planning its annual protest of what it calls the start of the Vietnamese occupation.

Khieu Kanharith said the ceremony in Phnom Penh, which is usu­ally held at the CPP headquarters, will likely be presided over by Senate President Chea Sim.

Council of Ministers CPP Sec­re­tary of State Prak Sokhon said he ex­pects that invitations would be ex­tended to Funcinpec officials and foreign diplomats.

“On this day the country was liberated from the genocide regime. No one could survive without this day,” Prak Sokhon said. “No one could forget this day—even those who say that this was the day that foreign invasion took [place].”

Not far from the Vietnamese Sol­d­ier Volunteer Monument near the National Assembly, protesters plan to rally in condemnation of “Viet­namese aggression” de­spite a police crackdown on last year’s pro­test, when a large group of police broke up a small demonstration, beating some protesters but injuring no one.

In a letter to the municipality dated Tuesday, the Khmer Front Party requested permission for 27 protesters to march on 27 square meters near the assembly.

“This day is the day of victory of the Vietnamese military that invaded Cambodia and isolated Cambo­dia from the international community,” party president Suth Dina said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Choeun said he was not aware of the party’s request.

Officials have been renovating the war memorial in recent days. A plaque featuring the Cambo­dian and Vietnamese flags has been fitted on its side, and on Tues­day soldiers were cleaning its base.

Co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh said the renovation was un­related to Saturday, but added that bordering countries must maintain warm, neighborly relations and that Cambodia could not forget Viet­nam’s aid.

“Cambodian people know in their hearts what Jan 7 has brought them. It is our second birth­­day,” Tea Banh said.


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