Ready to Commit Suicide Should Vietnam Arrest and Send Back to Cambodia
The point where I left Cambodia was there but symbolically we are standing here. It was at this point that I stood turning back to see my native country and thought what a fate – I left home at 13 years old to go to school and at 25 years old I had to leave my country. I was in indescribable suffering. Two of my colleagues who shared the trip with me died already. I could not find a way of knowing how fate would have on me. I could be shot or step on mine along the way. They could arrest and send me back to Cambodia. Vietnam could find my account unbelievable and jail me. One may ask why I went to Vietnam when Pol Pot attacked Vietnam and moved the border pole inside Vietnam at Tonle Jam. It was a hard decision to make because Pol Pot caused armed clashes with Vietnam all along. Vietnam still kept diplomatic relation with the Democratic Kampuchea. I had twelve needles with me and was ready to commit suicide should Vietnam arrest me and send me back to Cambodia. Suicide was my last option. Those needles went unaccounted only after the Paris Peace Agreement, perhaps when we had our house refurbished.
… It is to our knowledge that Pol Pot and Vietnam used to have extradition of Cambodians. Pol Pot killed those people. We did not falter. Our determination had indeed paid off. While leaving Cambodia 40 years ago, my colleagues, and I had had to trick other soldiers in the barrack as they also wished to go wherever we could have gone. They did not know our plan though. I told them I had to go for a retraining of some sort. It was impossible to bring into Vietnam a big number of people. We took the national road 7 and with help of the map, we identified this place as crossing point into Vietnam … The trip went on until about 10 am. There was a big rain. It was so much of an obstacle, but it was also helping us to disguise. Words of my colleagues moved me. As we got to a cross road, they suggested to me if we should not return to fetch my wife along and they offered to carry he too if she could not walk. I told them we could not because my wife was then in a hospital at Samraong, a very far place. Had we done what my colleagues suggested, we could have been in great danger. However, I treated their ideas as one frank suggestion […]
Risking Lives to Save the Country
We discussed which path should we continue. Nuch Than is here with us today. He wanted to take a rout along the Khmer Rouge military line … What concerned me most was how we crossed the border … No matter how much we thought about it, finally, one option that we had was to walk through a minefield. We could remind that areas along this line were heavily mined that no one could have entered. However, at one point, I crossed this section and I noticed footprints of wild ox, and other antelopes. There were no track of explosions. We were ready to cross the non-military field and remove the mines that we thought would be there. Treading along, the late Gen. Nhek Huon had arranged for two men – he and San Sanh, would be leading the way. I was to walk in the middle. Pao Ean followed me. Nuch Than was the last in line. They talked to each other no matter if they would be dead as long as they could get me to the other side of the border. Such thing is not what you see or hear every day […]
We arrived at this place at around 12 am. We had to remove more mines. We were hurry to do it. I stood and turned back again to our motherland. I thought of my wife where could she, in her second pregnancy, have been. Life was just not simple. I had risked my life to find ways to rescue the country. Were I to escape for my own life, it was not at all difficult. Vietnam also tricked us, you may remember, in Song Binh, by asking if we were to wish for a resettlement to Australia, Japan, Thailand, the US, Canada or France. If that were our intentions, they would help us do so. I told them my intention for being here was to seek help and save my country. If Vietnam could not help us do that, I just wished they returned us our weapons and we would return to die with our people. It was not a search for own peace […]
… Soon we will reach to a place where we rested from 2 am through to 8 am. Why did we wait there? Last night there was a heavy rain and lots of lightning. We prepared ourselves to cross the border from that point but we are standing over here to retrace what happened. At every strike of lightning, I saw a Troyoeung tree. As a trained special force member, I learnt how to measure distance from where I stood to the object in sight … So, according to my estimation, from where we stood to the Troyoeung tree, we were about only 100 to 120 meters away.
Thank Spirits along Escaping Path for Protections
Tears kept coming into my eyes and I really tried to hide it. I told my wife I was to be far and far away that I would not know if I were alive. My wife is watching, am sure, live coverage of this retracement on Fresh News and other Facebook pages. I could not be sure to tell her what was to be me since I could not know if I were not dead because of mines … Inside the country, mass killing was at large scale throughout the country. We could not stay silent and let them kill us. There was no other option but to live or to die […] it was lucky that we all travelled safe. After a big rain, at about 8 am, it was so foggy. Without a compass, we did not know which direction to go on. With our rifles still with us, we continued our careful walk into Vietnam.
You may wonder why we brought weapons with us. We had to because the area was in fact under the Khmer Rouge’s plan to attack. Therefore, having your arms with you still was a necessity. However, until we reach to another point, I will tell you later, where we hid weapons because we were sure that the Khmer Rouge would not be able to reach us. We hid them because we also did not want the Vietnamese army to misread what they would see. […] We were not there to fight the Vietnamese but we needed to keep those weapons in case we had to fight ourselves off with possible infiltrated Polpotists […] I thank the spirits who protect forests, mountains, and rocks, who 40 years ago, helped save not only us but millions of Cambodian people. Those of us, considered as your sparrow babies, whom you had helped has liberated and pacified the country … It was not my exclusive role to do that but I did contributed in building up the army – 23 battalions […]
Tongues Could Cause War
… Some analysts think that when Hun Sen was talking about war, there might be a division on the army. I would advise you not to analyze such sensitive issue if you have not had enough insights. The current armed forces are for the defense of the Constitution, the legitimate Royal Government, the throne, and HM the King. I am sure you have your rights to do so but that would indicate that you are uninformative. An army official like me is not one just to beautify the city. I was the one soldier who built up the army. In 1970, I was 18 years old. I was just a soldier who took senior command’s orders. After 20 June 1977, I was the one to issue order. I was later a Foreign Minister. However, my army continued to consider me their commander. We started with a small army and we have now a rather big one.
At that time, we had four or five battalions for the protection of the Phnom Penh city area. Whoever likes to argue there was a division in the army in their analysis concerning Hun Sen’s warning of war, I would argue with them that it could be because of their tongues that war could happen. If you continue to talk ill or insult, and/or threaten to kill, you might have to think about them happening to yourself. Cambodia would not at whatever cost let go this peace […] There were people who sought my confirmation if s/he was among the 100 or 200 to be executed. Let me make clear here. Whoever does not take part in destroying peace, you are not the target. Whoever intends to destroy peace of this country, you will get what you should have … If you keep telling around you are to fight for power through color revolution you are in the list then. Peace is of great value. Saving a nation is not an easy job (if that happens). How many people would have died? […]
Movement for the Country’s Liberation
… I thank you all very much for getting everything ready here. I am sure some foreign guests and our officials are to return. Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng, HE Hor Namhong, and some other leaders will return. Only a small number of them will follow me further into Vietnam to trace back this part of history. The army has decided to make 20 June the day that we started the march to save the country and to recognize a historical role that my friends and I played in rebuilding the armed forces. That big movement was part of a wider movement to save the country, thanks to all forces combined for the same courses – to liberate it. I would apologize to foreign guests that this trip reenactment seemed to have shown only Hun Sen’s role as an individual. However, it was the origination of things. There needed to have a political and military organization before Vietnam could offer their assistance to (movement as such in) another country. Please allow me to thank you again, and to say goodbye here … I will take a special flight tomorrow from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. It would be a different mode to what happened 40 years ago./.