In a message published Monday, retired King Norodom Sihanouk drew a stark comparison between 1960s Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge regime, blaming the regime’s former head of state Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary and former social action minister Ieng Thirith, as well as Pol Pot, for the nation’s precipitous decline.
All of those former officials, save the deceased Pol Pot, are currently under judicial investigation at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Norodom Sihanouk last week also accused Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith of failing to honor a request from the Chinese government to spare the retired King’s family, members of which were murdered, he said, in return for his 1975 resignation as the regime’s head of state.
“Before the advent of the Khieu Samphans, Ieng Sarys, Khieu Thiriths, Pol Pots, the countryside people had rice paddies, fields, houses, cattle, poultry, plows, etc…” Norodom Sihanouk wrote in the message dated April 19.
“The Polpotism-Khieusamphanism-Iengsaryism-KhieuThirithism liquidated Sihanoukism and transformed our free, landowning people into a slave people having to surrender all their goods to the Angkar, which had the right of life and death over our newly ‘proletarian’ people,” the retired King wrote.
Khmer Rouge policy also invited Vietnamese dominion over Cambodia, which was only ended through his own efforts and those of Prime Minister Hun Sen, he wrote.
“Long live Mr Khieu Samphan! Long live Mr Ieng Sary! Long live Mme Khieu Thirith!” the retired King added.
Say Bory, Cambodian defense lawyer for Khieu Samphan and also a legal adviser to the retired King, said Monday that he had not seen the statement and declined to comment.
Royal Palace Cabinet Member Oum Daravuth said the King Father was recording his memories for posterity and not commenting on current events.
“His majesty told me that he must write every day. Since he was young, he works very hard,” Oum Daravuth said. “He just talks and writes about history. For me, it’s important that younger Cambodians, younger scholars, younger historians know the veracities of that time.”