Cambodia’s Angkor Wat–a square (5,000 feet by 4,000 feet), walled, moated temple atop an ancient Anunnaki landing platform, power station and metalugy plant–featured red sandstone paved causeways “lined with stone figures who pull a hooded serpent.” The moat is 623 feet wide, the walls on each side, a mile long.
Statues line Angkor’s causeways
Pisnokar, a part-Earthling/part-Anunnaki,* built the landing platform. Kambu Swayambhuva and later Khmer kings built the Hindu temple of Angkor Wat atop Pisnokar’s platform.
Pisnokar’s platform, like the Roman temple atop what was the Anunnaki Landing Platform at Baalbek, Lebanon, became the understructure for temples added in the 12th Century CE.
The Anunnaki taught Pisnokar the technology he’d need to build Angkor, including how to make concrete out of sandstone, as a landing platform for their flying craft.
Before the world-wide Deluge of 11,000 BCE King VONGSA OSJAR of Cambodia lacked an heir. As his Queen rode an elephant, a ring of bright golden light shone on her; she didn’t recall details, but Enki probably abducted and impregnated her the old-fashioned way. Ten months later, they named the baby KETUMEALEA (“Garland of Bright Light”).
That day six Anunnaki women came to Cambodia to play. One of them, TIPSODA CHAN, married a Chinese merchant and bore “Preah” (A Noble title like “Lord”) PISNOKAR, who grew into a strong, handsome young man.”
In the heavens, Enki (known in south Asia as Indra) missed his son Ketumealea, whom he’d made with the Cambodian king to Earth to answer Vongsa Osjar’s prayer for a son. Enki knew Ketumealea would rule Cambodia.
Enki visited Vongsa Osjar in his huge spacecraft. He flew Ketumealea to his base on Mount Meru, India.
Enki told Pisnokar (son of Tipsoda Chan) to return to Cambodia with Ketumealea. “Ketumealea, fascinated by people, arts, and architecture, was reluctant to leave the land of the Gods to return home to earth.” Enki sent for the son of Tipsoda Chan, Pisnokar, and told him Ketumealea. Enki told the youths to use what they learned in heaven to make Cambodia greater.
Ketumealea took Cambodia’s crown when he and Pisnokar got back to Cambodia. The new King told Pisnokar to build Angkor Wat Temple like those the Anunnaki’s heavenly abode. King Ketumeala ordered more temples and irrigation reservoirs built throughout the vast empire. [Angkor Wat, khmerstorylovers3.yolasite.com/resources/A%20Tale%20of%20Angkor%20Wat%20-%20English%20Version.pdf]
Pisnokar used a power tool and weapon of mass destruction our ancestors called ascribed a “sword.” His sword “thin as a feather, not of metal, but of light,” made him invincible. It emitted light “more blinding than the sun.” With his “sword” he cut stone. With it, he could cut a ceramic jug down the middle that the water only ran out when the two halves fell apart. But when sword beam weakened, he threw it in the lake.
Our ancestors called Pisnokar’s laser or a plasma beam tool a “sword.” A plasma beam bunches charged particles that glow as they cut through everything as they respond to targeted magnetic fields.
Preah, legend says, poured “magical water onto stone, which, like our Brown’s gas, made the stone into a concrete which hardened in place as blocks in the structures of Angkor.
Angkor’s central pyramid pointed to the constellation Draco at sunrise on the spring equinox of 10,500 BCE at the same the Egyptian Sphinx gazed at sunrise at Orion. This alignment supports the fact that knowledge of this alignment came from the same source, the Nibiran goldminers.
The Anunnaki goldminers from the planet Nibiru and the Khmer kings they directed created a design of temples around Angkor and Giza as mandalas for aircraft.
NAGA (quotes from Wikipedia)
Kambu Swayambhuva (or KAUNDINYA) was a Hindu sage prince of Kamboja lineage mentioned along with sage Agastya, Kaundinya Swayambhuva, king Rajendra Chola, king Ashoka Maurya and king Pushyamitra Shunga in Shloka-22 in Ekamata Stotra.
Kambu Swayambhuva was a learned prince who had initially been an Indian king. He had ventured into the Far East and entered an area having jungles that was being ruled by a king of Naga lineage.
ENKI CREATED KHMER ROYALS
Kambu defeated the Naga king. Enki, known in India as Shiva, married Kambu to the Naga King’s daughter Mera. Kambu developed the land into a fertile and flourishing country. Princes of Cambodia say they are Kambujas descended from the lineage of Kambu. The name “Kambu” is a variation of the Sanskrit term “Kamboja”. The combination of Kambu and Mera names = “Khmer”.
Kambu belonged to the Kamboja lineage and sailed from Indian subcontinent–Saurashtra/Gujarat on the west coast of India–and established a small Kamboja kingdom in Bassac around Vat-Ph’u hill in Mekong Basin. Ancient Chinese records call Kamboja CHENLA.
SHRUTAVARMA KAMBUJA’S DYNASTY
Kambu’s son Shrutavarma Kambuja ruled in 5th century CE, succeeded by his son Shreshthavarma Kambuja. Viravarma Kambuja succeeded Shreshthavarma. Princess Kambujarajalakshmi, Queen of Bhavavarman I, from the line of Kambu Swayambhuva; through her Bhavavarman I inherited the royal lineage and became King of Kambuja.
Around the 8th century CE, the kings of SHAILENDRA DYNASTY seized control of Chenla (i.e. Kambuja).
JAYAVARMAN II REASSERTED KAMBUJA RULE
At the start of the 9th century, the Kambuja family reasserted itself under Prince Jayavarman II. He shook off the foreign yoke, unified the Land Chenla and Water Chenla and renamed the unified country as Kambuja after his family’s lineage. Thus began the long line of Kambuja princes and also the Angkorean period in Cambodian history.
Earlier: Prehistoric Cambodia’s earliest known site in Cambodia is Laang Spean cave which occupies the country’s northwest region. Laang Spean cave was first occupied in around 7000 BCE. Samrong Sen was occupied c. 500 to 230 BCE. From 2000 BCE, Cambodians employed domesticated animals and grew rice. By 600 BCE, Cambodians made iron tools. Parts of Cambodia were inhabited during the second and first millennia BCE by a Neolithic culture that migrated from southeastern China to the Indochinese Peninsula.
By the 1st century CE, before their present Thai and Lao neighbors arrived, Khmer groups lived along the coast, the lower Mekong river valley and delta regions. The Khmer may have spawned the ancestors of the peoples who now inhabit insular Southeast Asia and islands of the Pacific Ocean. They worked metals, including iron and bronze. They were skilled navigators.
The Angkorian period or Khmer empire lasted from the early 9th century to the early 15th century CE, the golden age of Khmer civilization. The great temple cities of the Angkorian region, near modern Siemreap, are a monument to Jayavarman II’s successors.
JAYAVARMAN II settled north of the Tonle Sap. He built several capitals before establishing one, Hariharalaya, near the site where the Angkorian complexes were built.
INDRAVARMAN I (877–889 CE) extended Khmer control as far west as the Korat Plateau in Thailand. He ordered the construction of a huge reservoir north of the capital to provide irrigation for wet rice cultivation. His son, YASOVARMAN I (889–900), built the Eastern Baray reservoir (more than 6 kilometers long and 1.6 kilometers wide). Canals and reservoirs built under Indravarman I and his successors gave Kambuja prosperity for half a millennium. The water system freed cultivators from dependence on unreliable seasonal monsoons and gave Cambodia large rice surpluses. Rival dynasties within Cambodia diverted human resources from the system’s upkeep, and it gradually fell into disrepair. When the irrigation system broke down during the 13th and 14th centuries, Thai and other foreign peoples attacked Cambodia.
SURYAVARMAN II (1113–1150 CE) expanded Kambuja’s territory in wars against the Champa kingdom in central Vietnam and the small Mon polities as far west as the Irrawaddy River of Burma. He reduced the Thai people to vassals of the Khmer vassalage the Thai peoples who had migrated into Southeast Asia from the Yunnan region of southern China to his vassals. Suryavarman forced his rule over the northern Malay Peninsula. He built the temple city complex, Angkor Wat, the largest religious edifice in the world. Kambuja’s expansion ended when, in 1150 CE, Suryavarman II died in battle when he invaded Dai Viet. Internal strife weakened Kambuja and in 1177 CE, Vietnamese Chams sacked Angkor.
Suryavarman II’s reign was followed by thirty years of dynastic upheaval and an invasion in revenge by the neighboring Vietnamese Cham, who destroyed the city of Angkor in 1177.
Khmer armed with war elephants drove out the Cham in the 12th century.
JAYAVARMAN VII drove the Cham out of Cambodia and built the walled city, Angkor Thom, around Angkor WAT. His reign (1181–ca. 1218) marked the apogee of Kambuja’s power.
Unlike his predecessors, who had adopted the cult of the Hindu god-king, Jayavarman VII was a fervent patron of Mahayana BUDDHISM.
Casting himself as a bodhisattva, he embarked on a frenzy of building activity that included the ANGKOR THOM complex and the BAYON, a remarkable temple whose stone towers depict 216 faces of buddhas, gods, and kings. He also built over 200 rest houses and hospitals throughout his kingdom. Like the Roman emperors, he maintained a system of roads between his capital and provincial towns. According to historian George Coedès, “No other Cambodian king can claim to have moved so much stone.” Often, quality suffered for the sake of size and rapid construction, as is revealed in the intriguing but poorly constructed Bayon.
Everyday Angkorian buildings were wooden structures not much different from those found in Cambodia today. The impressive stone buildings were not used as residences by members of the royal family. Rather, they were the focus of Hindu or Buddhist cults that celebrated the divinity, or buddhahood, of the monarch and his family. They had the dual function of both temple and tomb. Their dimensions reflected the structure of the Hindu mythological universe.
The five towers at the center of the Angkor Wat complex represent the peaks of Mount Meru, the center of the universe; an outer wall represents the mountains that ring the world’s edge; and a moat depicts the cosmic ocean. Like many other ancient edifices, the monuments of the Angkorian region absorbed vast reserves of resources and human labor and their purpose remains shrouded in mystery.
Angkorian society was strictly hierarchical. The king, regarded as divine, owned both the land and his subjects. Immediately below the monarch and the royal family were the Brahman priesthood and a small class of officials, who numbered about 4,000 in the 10th century. Next were the commoners, who were burdened with heavy corvée (forced labor) duties. There was also a large slave class who built the enduring monuments.
After Jayavarman VII’s death, Kambuja entered a long period of decline that led to its eventual disintegration. The Thai were a growing menace on the empire’s western borders. The spread of THERAVADA BUDDHISM, which came to Kambuja from Sri Lanka by way of the Mon kingdoms, challenged the royal Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist cults. Preaching austerity and the salvation of the individual through his or own her efforts, Theravada Buddhism did not lend doctrinal support to a society ruled by an opulent royal establishment maintained through the virtual slavery of the masses.
In 1353 a Thai army captured Angkor. It was recaptured by the Khmer, but wars continued and the capital was looted several times. During the same period, Khmer territory north of the present Laotian border was lost to the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. In 1431 the Thai captured Angkor Thom. Thereafter, the Angkorian region did not again encompass a royal capital, except for a brief period in the third quarter of the 16th century.
Over time Cambodia was continually subjugated by its more powerful Mongol neighbors. As each of them in their turn, gained control of Cambodia, that precipitated the movement of Mongol people into Cambodia. Finally in 1863 A.D, Cambodia became a French territory, by then all had been lost, and the Khmer had been absorbed.
In 1863, the Khmers obtained the protection of the French and became officially part of the French Indochina. However, even if this implied a new wave of impoverishment, it proved rather effective for what was later to become Cambodia: local intellectuals had now better access to vast knowledge and the economy of the region could be shaped in a more effective manner.
THE RED KHMERS, THE MONARCHY AND PRESENT DAYS
After the WWII and the Japanese occupation in French Indochina, Cambodia returned to monarchy. In the seventh decade, the society faced a rapid transition and drastic social changes which led, in 1975, to the Khmer Rouge rule and, later, to war with the Vietnamese. This period was marked by famine and massive genocide. The last decade of the 20th century brought a relative stability in Cambodia. Assisted by international organizations, Cambodia has experienced in the past two decades a fast and effective economic growth.
TIMELINE OF CAMBODIAN HISTORY [Quoted from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-13006828]
-800 – Various kingdoms in the area of today’s Cambodia
802 – Jayavarman II declares himself “universal monarch”
889 – The Capital is moved to Angkor
1219 – The Death of Jayavarman VII destabilizes the empire
1431 – Angkor is conquered by the Thais
1431-1863 – Various foreign rulers impose tributes and taxes to the Khmer kings
1863 – Cambodia becomes a protectorate of France. French colonial rule lasts for 90 years.
1860s A french explorer called world attention to Angkor Wat. “Angkor was never really “lost”. The Khmer knew of the existence even after the kingdom broke down. Some of the temples have been used all the time by fishermen and farmers who lived in the surroundings. In the 16th century, Portuguese missionaries reached the city and even reported about it. The interests of the colonial powers seemed to have swept this under the table.”
Meanwhile the Thai government, under the pro-Japanese leadership of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, and strengthened by virtue of its treaty of friendship with Japan, took advantage of the weakened position of France, and invaded Cambodia’s western provinces to which it had historic claims.
Tokyo hosted the signature of a treaty in March 1941 that formally compelled the French to relinquish the provinces of Battambang,Siem Reap, Koh Kong as well as a narrow extension of land between the 15th parallel and the Dangrek Mountains in Stung Treng Province.
As a result, Cambodia had lost almost half a million citizens and one-third of its former surface area to Thailand.
1941 – Prince Norodom Sihanouk becomes king.
Japan occupied Cambodia 1941-1945. Japanese refrained from atrocities and let the Vichy French Indochina colonial government stay in charge till ’45, when the Japanese created a pro-Tokyo puppet state.
On 20 July 1942, there was a major anti-French demonstration in Phnom Penh after a prominent monk, Hem Chieu, was arrested for allegedly preaching seditious sermons to the colonial militia. The French authorities arrested the demonstration’s leader, Pach Chhoeun, and exiled him to the prison island of Con Son. Pach Chhoen was a respected Cambodian intellectual, associated with the Institut Bouddhique and founder of Nagaravatta, the first overtly political newspaper in the Khmer language in 1936, along with Sim Var. Another of the men behind Nagaravatta, Son Ngoc Thanh(a Paris-educated magistrate) was also blamed for the demonstration, which the French authorities suspected had been carried out with Japanese encouragement.
Collaborationist Kingdom of Kampuchea
In 1945, in the closing stages of World War II, Japan made a coup de force that temporarily eliminated French control over Indochina. The French colonial administrators were relieved of their positions, and French military forces were ordered to disarm. The aim was to revive the flagging support of local populations for Tokyo’s war effort by encouraging indigenous rulers to proclaim independence.
On 9 March 1945 young king Norodom Sihanouk proclaimed an independent Kingdom of Kampuchea, following a formal request by the Japanese. The Japanese government nominally ratified the independence of Cambodia and established a consulate in Phnom Penh.
On 13 March king Sihanouk changed the official name of the country in French from Cambodge to Kampuchea. The new government did away with the romanization of the Khmer language that the French colonial administration was beginning to enforce and officially reinstated the Khmer script. This measure taken by the short-lived governmental authority would be popular and long-lasting, for since then no government in Cambodia has tried to romanize the Khmer language again.
Son Ngoc Thanh returned to Cambodia in May. He was initially appointed foreign minister and would become Prime Minister two months later. The Cambodian puppet state of Japan lasted from March to October 1945.
1945 – The Japanese occupation ends
The Japanese occupation of Cambodia ended with the official surrender of Japan in August 1945. After Allied military units entered Cambodia, the Japanese military forces present in the country were disarmed and repatriated.
The French were able to reimpose the colonial administration in Phnom Penh in October the same year.
After arresting Son Ngoc Thanh for collaboration with the Japanese, the French colonial authorities exiled him to France, where he lived in house arrest.
Some of his supporters went underground and escaped to Thai-controlled northwestern Cambodia, where they were eventually to join forces in a pro-independence group, the Khmer Issarak. This anti-French, politically heterogeneous nationalist movement was organized with Thai backing, but would later split into factions.
1946 – France re-imposes its protectorate. A new constitution permits Cambodians to form political parties.
Communist guerrillas begin an armed campaign against the French.
1953 – Cambodia wins its independence from France. Under King Sihanouk, it becomes the Kingdom of Cambodia. Norodom Sihanouk abdicated in 1955 but returned to high office several times.
1955 – Sihanouk abdicates to pursue a political career. His father becomes king and Sihanouk becomes prime minister.
1960 – Sihanouk’s father dies. Sihanouk becomes head of state.
1965 – Sihanouk breaks off relations with the US and allows North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up bases in Cambodia in pursuance of their campaign against the US-backed government in South Vietnam.
1969 – The US begins a secret bombing campaign against North Vietnamese forces on Cambodian soil.
1970 – Prime Minister Lon Nol overthrows Sihanouk in coup. He proclaims the Khmer Republic and sends the army to fight the North Vietnamese in Cambodia. Sihanouk – in exile in China – forms a guerrilla movement. Over next few years the Cambodian army loses territory against the North Vietnamese and communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas
Cambodian Civil War
The 68,000-member Khmer Rouge-dominated CPNLAF force that completed its conquest of Cambodia in April 1975 was a highly dedicated and disciplined peasant army, trained in the rigors of guerrilla warfare as well as in full-scale combat.
Its shadowy intellectual leaders, adhering to the Maoist principles of guerrilla warfare, had taken their core “fish” from only three scattered companies, when optimum conditions had been presented to them in 1970, and had propelled them through the “water” of the people in the countryside, while collecting thousands of proselytes on the way.
These leaders were fiercely independent, at first grudgingly accepting training and arms from the Vietnamese—the hated traditional enemy—while on occasion violently turning on these nominal allies, behavior that presaged the fatal conflict that was to come.
When most North Vietnamese and Viet Cong combat divisions had withdrawn from the field in Cambodia at the end of 1972, the RAK had experienced phenomenal growth, reaching an estimated 50,000. Its personnel continued to arm themselves by capturing or purchasing weaponry from FANK.
The insurgents marched under the banners of nationalism, of legitimacy, and of national preservation—the escutcheon of Sihanouk. In the end, they defeated an army which had a strength on paper of 230,000, but which possibly numbered as few as 150,000. FANK had been armed by the United States with military weaponry and equipment worth $US1.18 billion, an abundance of matériel that now fell into the hands of the CPNLAF.
At the beginning of the regime of Democratic Kampuchea, the CPNLAF—now renamed the RAK once again, under its long-time commander and then Minister of Defense Son Sen, had 230 battalions in 35 to 40 regiments and in 12 to 14 brigades.
The command structure in units was based on three-person committees in which the political commissar ranked higher than the military commander and his deputy. The country was divided into zones and special sectors, the boundaries of which changed slightly over the years. Within these areas, the RAK’s first task upon “liberation,” as a calculated policy, was the peremptory execution of former FANK officers and of their families, without trial or fanfare.
The next priority was to consolidate into a national army the separate forces that were operating more or less autonomously in the various zones. The Khmer Rouge units were commanded by zonal secretaries who were simultaneously party and military officers, some of whom were said to have manifested “warlord characteristics.”
Troops from one zone frequently were sent to another zone to enforce discipline. It was such efforts to discipline zonal secretaries and their dissident or ideologically impure cadres that gave rise to the purges that were to decimate RAK ranks, to undermine the morale of the victorious army, and to generate the seeds of rebellion. As journalist Elizabeth Becker noted, “in the end paranoia, not enemies, was responsible for bringing down the regime.”
Khmer-Vietnamese border tensions
Border tensions between Cambodia and Vietnam (aside from traditional Khmer fear and hatred of the Vietnamese) goes back to the controversy over the Brévié Line, drawn in 1939 by French colonial administrators and considered by Vietnam to be the official international boundary between the two countries. For years after the French departure, various Cambodian governments attempted to negotiate the return of Cochinchina—known in Cambodia as Kampuchea Krom, which they maintained was a French colony, not a protectorate, that had been promised to Cambodia by early French colonial authorities. Negotiations to solve the border dispute were held between 1975 and 1977, but they made no progress and were suspended. The Khmer Rouge also felt an abiding distrust of the Vietnamese, who, they believed, had never renounced their determination to incorporate Cambodia into a larger, Hanoi-dominated Indochina federation.
Clashes between the RAK and Vietnam People’s Army began in Cambodia as early as 1970, when there were reported incidents of Khmer Rouge units firing on North Vietnamese. Reports continued of engagements of growing intensity, particularly after 1973. TheNorth Vietnamese, because they urgently needed sanctuaries in Cambodia in order to pursue their war in South Vietnam, chose to ignore the incidents and were still prepared, at the end of Cambodia’s long civil war, to send sapper and artillery groups to help the Cambodian People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (CPNLAF) take Phnom Penh. After the communist victories of April and May 1975, clashes between Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge units centered on the border. Skirmishing began about a month after the fall of Phnom Penh, when Hanoi accused the Khmer Rouge of trying to seize Phu Quoc Island and of making forays into several Vietnamese border provinces.
1975: The Khmer Rouge would have made more noise about their offshore claims had it not been for the destruction by the United States of their air force and much of their navy during the Mayaguez incident. On May 12, 1975, a Khmer Rouge sector commander, zealously asserting Cambodia’s territorial rights in the Gulf of Thailand, boarded and captured the American container ship S.S. Mayaguez, which carried a crew of forty, near the island of Wai (which later fell under Vietnamese jurisdiction). Failing to receive a timely response to demands for return of the ship, Washington notified the UN and invoked the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The ensuing four-day engagement involved U.S. bombing raids on the airfield at Ream and on the port of Kompong Saom, as well as naval barrages and a Marine assault on the nearby island of Kaoh Tang. On orders from the Khmer Rouge leadership, the Mayaguez crew was released unharmed and was returned to United States custody.
Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia
1977 Deteriorating relations between Cambodia and Vietnam reached a crescendo of recrimination when, on December 31, 1977, Radio Phnom Penh, citing “ferocious and barbarous aggression launched by the 90,000 Vietnamese aggressor forces against Democratic Kampuchea,” denounced the “so-called Socialist Republic of Vietnam” and announced the “temporary severance” of diplomatic relations. Rhetorical exchanges between the two sides became more acrimonious, and border skirmishes involving Cambodian and Vietnamese units erupted into pitched battles in the summer and the fall of 1978. Major engagements were reported in the Parrot’s Beak (part of Svay Rieng Province), in the Fishhook (part of Kampong Cham Province), and in Ratanakiri Province. In an effort to court world public opinion, in September 1978 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Kampuchea published its so-called “Black Book,” the Black Paper: Facts and Evidence of Aggression and Annexation Against Kampuchea. The tract denounced Vietnam’s “true nature” as that of “aggressor, annexationist and swallower of other countries’ territories.”
In November 1978, rhetoric was succeeded by full-scale action: Vietnamese forces launched a sustained operation on Cambodian soil in the area of Snuol and Memot (both in Kracheh Province). This action cleared a liberated zone where anti-Khmer Rouge Cambodians could launch a broad-based political movement that would offer an alternative to the odious Pol Pot regime. Proclamation of this movement, the Kampuchean (or Khmer) National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS), took place in a rubber-plantation clearing on December 2, 1978, amid rigid security provided by heavily armed Vietnamese units reinforced with airdefense weapons.
The public unveiling of the KNUFNS dashed any remaining expectations that Cambodian-Vietnamese disagreements could be solved without further armed conflict, because the Hanoi-backed front openly called for the ouster of the “reactionary Pol Pot-Ieng Sary clique.” Because the KNUFNS was far too weak to topple the regime of Democratic Kampuchea, virtually the entire combat burden would fall on Vietnamese forces, which, for this purpose, had been steadily building up troop strength on the border during the preceding months.
December 25, 1978, Hanoi launched its offensive with twelve to fourteen divisions and three Khmer regiments (that later would form the nucleus of the KPRAF), a total invasion force comprising some 100,000 people. Vietnamese units struck across the Cambodian frontier in five spearheads that thrust initially into northeastern Cambodia. One task force drove west from Buon Me Thuot (in Dac Lac Province, Vietnam) along Route 13 and Route 14 to capture Kracheh City (the capital of Kracheh Province). A second column attacked west from Pleiku (in Gia Lai-Cong Tum Province, Vietnam), and followed the circuitous Route 19 to capture Stoeng Treng City (the capital of Stoeng Treng Province). In thus concentrating its initial thrusts in the northeast, Hanoi may have had several objectives. One of these may have been to capture quickly substantial expanses of the Cambodian territory that had been an early spawning ground for the Khmer Rouge and its fledgling RAK in the late 1960s. The remoteness of this region would have rendered it difficult to dislodge Vietnamese forces, no matter what the outcome of the war. An early occupation also would have preempted Khmer Rouge units, if they were pressed harder elsewhere, from falling back to this area where they might have enjoyed a measure of public support. The attacks in the northeast also may have been intended to confuse the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea about where the full brunt of the Vietnamese offensive would fall.
Khmer Rouge commanders were not deceived by the Vietnamese thrusts toward Kracheh and Stoeng Treng, however, and made no attempt to reinforce the northeast. Instead, they erected their main defense line in an arc across the flat, rice-growing plains of southeastern Cambodia, astride the most probable Vietnamese axes of advance. Their calculation of Vietnamese intentions proved correct, as Hanoi’s forces unleashed the full weight of their offensive in this area. From Vietnam’s Tay Ninh Province, heavily armed Vietnamese units drove along the axis of Route 7 toward their objective, the river port of Kampong Cham. Farther south, Vietnamese units with air support attacked along Route 1, in the direction of Prek Khsay (near Neak Luong), the Mekong River gateway to Phnom Penh. The fifth and final Vietnamese spearhead drove west from Ha Tien, Vietnam, to capture the ports of Kampot andKampong Saom, and thus to prevent the resupply by sea of retreating Khmer Rouge forces.
Resistance to the invading Vietnamese units by the RAK could have been suicidal, given the disregard for human life previously displayed by the forces of Democratic Kampuchea. Instead, heavy fighting was localized. Major engagements were fought before Kampong Cham and Prek Khsay and at Tani, inland from the coast of Kampot Province. RAK units, already deprived of experienced commanders by party purges, withered under sustained pounding by Vietnamese artillery and air strikes, and many of them simply scattered before the Vietnamese offensive, some to regroup later in western Cambodia.
By January 5, 1979, the main Vietnamese spearheads had driven to the eastern banks of the Mekong River. Incomplete evidence hints that the Vietnamese offensive originally may have intended to go no farther. The way to Phnom Penh lay open, however, because the Khmer Rouge units were falling back. Vietnamese forces paused briefly, perhaps to wait for bridging and ferrying equipment and the latest orders from Hanoi, then proceeded to carry out the final assault on Phnom Penh. Khmer Rouge leaders elected not to defend the city, and it fell on January 7.
After the fall of the capital, Vietnamese units continued their advance in two columns into western Cambodia, capturing Battambang and Siemreab. The columns met at Sisophon and drove on to the Thai border, where there was heavy fighting in March and in April. In the meantime, some remaining Khmer Rouge units offered scattered resistance before they melted away into less accessible areas. There the Khmer Rouge leaders soon rekindled an insurgency against the new government in power, just as they had in the late 1960s, and insecurity persisted in the countryside in spite of the continued Vietnamese presence.
On the diplomatic front, Vietnam, maintaining it had no troops in Cambodia and attributing the lightning-like victory to the KNUFNS, at first denied responsibility for the invasion. When called before the UN Security Council, however, Hanoi’s representative, tacitly admitting the presence of Vietnam and citing numerous Western press reports of Pol Pot’s genocidal actions, implied that his country had overthrown the Pol Pot regime in the name of humanitarian and human rights.
The Vietnamese sweep through Cambodia produced an unprecedented level of turmoil on the Thai border, as disorganized and bypassed Khmer Rouge units and civilian refugees fled before their advancing enemy. Amid this chaos, in 1979, two anti-Vietnamese insurgent movements, besides the Khmer Rouge, came into being. The first of these was the Khmer People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF), the armed wing of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF), which gave allegiance to Son Sann, a noncommunist, perennial cabinet minister in successive Sihanouk administrations. The other was the Sihanouk National Army (Armée Nationale Sihanoukiste—ANS), the armed wing of the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Indépendant, Neutre, Pacifique, et Coopératif—FUNCINPEC), which owed allegiance to Sihanouk. Fighting independently, these noncommunist guerrilla movements and the Khmer Rouge fomented continuous rebellion in the early 1980s that could not be quelled, despite a substantial Vietnamese military commitment to this purpose. Operating from refugee camps on the Thai frontier, the insurgents made forays into the Cambodian border provinces and kept the countryside in a permanent state of insecurity.
In the 1984 to 1985 dry season, the Vietnamese military command in Cambodia, frustrated because of depredations by the guerrillas, undertook a sustained offensive to dislodge them from their sanctuaries in the refugee camps. These installations were pounded by artillery and were overrun by Vietnamese tactical units. The operation, which was intended to cripple the Khmer guerrillas, had the opposite effect, however. It drove them away from the border, and they undertook prolonged forays deeper into the Cambodian interior.
To restrict guerrilla activity, the Vietnamese erected a physical barrier on the Thai-Cambodian border. Code-named Project K-5, the effort consisted of clearing jungle growth; of erecting obstacles, such as ditches, barbed wire, and minefields; and of building a road parallel to the border. Construction of the project, which began in 1985, was performed by corvée labor. All districts in Cambodia were tasked to provide able-bodied males for tours of duty on the project that ranged from three to six months. Living conditions were primitive in the construction camps, and the diet was inadequate; the area was malarial, and unexploded ordnance from past conflicts was a constant threat. The barrier was completed in 1987 at an unrecorded cost in Cambodian lives. Preliminary indications shortly thereafter revealed that it was having little effect on guerrilla movements to and from the Cambodian interior.
In the late 1980s, a Vietnamese military contingent of 140,000 troops, and a Khmer force—a surrogate for the Vietnamese—of 30,000 to 35,000 troops, which comprised the KPRAF of the new government in Phnom Penh, maintained tenuous control over the heartland of Cambodia. This territory included the population centers, the fertile rice-growing area around the Tonle Sap, and the main arteries of communication.
The combined Vietnamese-KPRAF military effort was opposed by disunited and factious but persistent insurgent forces belonging to each of the three components of the tripartite Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea. The insurgents had the capability to conduct long-range combat or reconnaissance patrols with as many as 100 troops. They could engage in small-scale propaganda missions, raids, and ambushes against poorly armed targets, such as militia outposts, and in sabotage against stationary, infrastructural objectives, such as bridges and railroad tracks. They lacked sufficient troop strength, heavy weapons, trained leadership, and dependable logistical support, however, for sustained combat operations. From their jungle havens deep within the country and from their bases near the Thai border, the insurgents were reputed to range widely throughout Cambodia. Verifiable guerrilla actions, however, were confined to the northwestern provinces of Batdambang and Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey (the two provinces were combined into one by the government of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea prior to 1980), which continued to be the centers of insurgent activity. Most foreign observers in the late 1980s assessed the military situation as being at a stalemate. The rebels lacked the capability, actual or potential, to drive out the Vietnamese occupation force, while the combined Vietnamese-KPRAF armies, at foreseeable force and equipment levels, were incapable of destroying the CGDK guerrilla units.
Coalition government resistance forces
The tripartite CGDK opposed both the Vietnamese military presence in Cambodia and the government of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea that had been installed in Phnom Penh by Hanoi. Each component of the coalition maintained its own force of armed combatants. Divided by deep-seated animosities among their leaders, these three distinctive and autonomous military forces were brought into a reluctant and uneasy coalition as a result of diplomatic activity by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The common goal of contesting the Vietnamese occupation, however, could not bridge the noncommunist coalition partners’ deep suspicion toward the renascent Khmer Rouge. Throughout the 1980s, the three combatant forces remained unintegrated, and each maintained separate bases, command structures, and operational planning. An effort by ASEAN to unite the three resistance forces on the Thai border resulted, in May 1984, in the creation on paper of the Permanent Military Coordinating Committee, which apparently never functioned.
Limited tactical cooperation, however, occasionally was reported among the various coalition partners. In one rare example, the three forces participated jointly in a major operation in Batdambang Province in early 1986. Usually, Khmer Rouge units, under their shadowy zonal commanders, remained aloof from their coalition partners and, on occasion, even attacked their military forces and inflicted casualties. Such interfactional clashes were the subject of several complaints by Sihanouk, who charged over the years that Khmer Rouge guerrillas had “repeatedly ambushed and killed [his] troops.” These allegations were the principal reason why he chose to step down from the presidency of the CGDK on a leave of absence in May 1987.
National Army of Democratic Kampuchea
The National Army of Democratic Kampuchea was the successor to the RAK of the Khmer Rouge, the name change having gone into effect in December 1979, in an apparent public relations effort that later saw the dissolution of the Kampuchean (or Khmer) Communist Party (KCP), (replaced by the Party of Democratic Kampuchea, or PDK—) and the purported retirement of Pol Pot to an advisory role in 1985. NADK forces consisted of former RAK troops—large numbers of whom had escaped the 1978 to 1979 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia—as well as conscripts coerced into submission during the Khmer Rouge retreat and new volunteers or recruits either pressed into service during in-country raids or drawn from among refugee groups. The New York Times reported in June 1987 that “the Khmer Rouge army is believed to be having some success in its recruitment, not only among the refugees in its camps but within Vietnamese-controlled Cambodia.” The NADK did not make personnel figures public, but estimates by military observers and by journalists generally ranged between 40,000 and 50,000 combatants.
In 1987 the opinion that the NADK was “the only effective fighting force” opposing the Vietnamese was more often expressed by foreign observers. In an interview published in the United States in May 1987, Sihanouk reportedly said, “without the Khmer Rouge, we have no credibility on the battlefield… [they are]… the only credible military force.”
During the 1980s, the Khmer Rouge leadership, composed of party cadres who doubled as military commanders, remained fairly constant. Pol Pot retained an ambiguous but presumably prominent position in the hierarchy, although he was nominally replaced as commander in chief of the NADK by Son Sen, who had also been a student in Paris, and who had gone underground with him in 1963. There were reports of factions in the NADK, such as one loyal to Khieu Samphan, prime minister of the defunct regime of Democratic Kampuchea, and his deputy Ieng Sary, and another identified with Pol Pot and Ta Mok (the Southwestern Zone commander who conducted extensive purges of party ranks in Cambodia in 1977 to 1978). Although led by party and military veterans, the NADK combatants were reportedly “less experienced, less motivated, and younger” than those the Vietnamese had faced in previous encounters. Nevertheless, the new Khmer Rouge recruits still were “hardy and lower class,” and tougher than the noncommunist combatants.
During forays into Cambodia, NADK units employed terror tactics against Khmer civilians, including murder and destruction of economic resources. Such success as they achieved in recruiting was apparently owed to traditional Cambodian hatred of the Vietnamese invader, although there were reports that some of the peasantry would have preferred to endure a continued Vietnamese occupation rather than to suffer a return to Khmer Rouge rule.
The Khmer Rouge divided the country into four military zones that functioned virtually autonomously under their respective commanders. Within these four zones, three areas—the provinces around the Tonle Sap, the western border of Cambodia, and the remainder of the country—were sites of NADK tactical operations. It was the first area, the heartland of Cambodia, that the NADK viewed as the “Achilles’ heel of the Vietnamese enemy,” where NADK military efforts were concentrated.
NADK units managed to keep the main routes linking Phnom Penh to western Cambodia “in a permanent state of insecurity,” according to a senior Vietnamese military observer; traffic to and from the seaport of Kampong Saom was obliged to move in convoys. Both highways and railroads from the capital were interdicted intermittently because of guerrilla activity. Officials in Phnom Penh told a Western correspondent in 1987 that the Khmer Rouge were then operating in small insurgent groups inside Cambodia in a battle for the villages, rather than fighting from the Thai border area, as had been the case prior to the 1984 to 1985 Vietnamese dry-season offensive. In carrying the war to the countryside, the NADK demonstrated that it had gone on the strategic defensive, that is, that it would adhere to a doctrine of guerrilla warfare until the balance of forces was about equal. If this parity were to achieved, NADK strategists presumably would then switch to offensive operations.
In carrying on its protracted insurgency, the NADK received the bulk of its military equipment and financing from China, which had supported the previous regime of Democratic Kampuchea. One pro-Beijing source put the level of Chinese aid to the NADK at US$1 million a month. Another source, although it did not give a breakdown, set the total level of Chinese assistance, to all the resistance factions, at somewhere between US$60 million and US$100 million a year.
The Chinese weaponry observed in the possession of NADK combatants included AK-47 (Automatic Kalashnikov) assault rifles, RPD light machine guns, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launchers, recoilless rifles, and antipersonnel mines. NADK guerrillas usually were seen garbed in dark green Chinese fatigues and soft “Mao caps” without insignia. No markings or patches were evident on guerrilla uniforms, although the NADK had promulgated a hierarchy of ranks with distinctive insignias in 1981.
To keep troops and supplies moving into the combat zone, the NADK, according to Vietnamese sources, followed two infiltration routes. One of them ran south from Thailand through the Dangrek Escarpment into Cambodia. The second ran north from Tra, a minor Thai seaport that may have been an unloading point for Chinese supplies for the Khmer Rouge. In spite of substantial Chinese material assistance, however, the NADK could not maintain the logistical supply line needed to conduct a sustained military campaign.
Khmer People’s National Liberation Armed Forces
The Khmer People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF), the military component of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF), was formed in March 1979 from various anticommunist groups concentrated near the Thai border with Cambodia, which were opposed to Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea. Many had become essentially warlord bands, engaging more in trade and in internecine fighting than in combat operations. They were brought together by General Dien Del, a former career officer of the Khmer Republic, who became chief of the KPNLAF General Staff.
The KPNLAF was loyal to Son Sann, a former Sihanouk minister and the founder of the KPNLF political movement. Because of Son Sann’s noncommunist credentials, the KPNLAF offered an alternative to those Cambodians who could support neither Hanoi nor the Khmer Rouge, and it quickly became the second largest guerrilla force in the country. By mid-1981, with about 7,000 personnel under arms, it was able to protect its refugee camps and occasionally to conduct forays into Cambodia.
Two developments in the mid-1980s, however, greatly diminished KPNLAF capabilities as a fighting force. The first of these was the Vietnamese dry-season offensive of 1984 to 1985, which dislodged these guerrillas from their havens on the Thai-Cambodian border. All three insurgent forces were affected by this setback, but the KPNLAF proved less able than the others to sustain the reversal and less flexible in adapting to new conditions. Critical sources noted that the KPNLAF had “made no significant contribution to the [1984-85] dry season fighting against the Vietnamese” and that its combatants had been “virtually immobilized by the loss of their camps.” The second development, equally harmful to the KPNLAF cause, was the dispute that broke out among the top leaders. Following the loss of the border camps, contemporary reports noted that “open revolt” had broken out among guerrilla commanders over the “dictatorial ways” of Son Sann, who had continued as president of the KPNLF, and his “interference in military matters.” The crisis resulted in the virtual paralysis of the KPNLAF on a temporary basis.
Observers also reported that, as a result of the KPNLAF leadership dispute, members of guerrilla units had returned to the Thai border from the Cambodian interior to await the outcome of the controversy. There were desertions, and discipline became an increasingly serious problem. KPNLAF soldiers became suspect when it was reported that gangs of Khmer bandits had attacked Thai vehicles and buses, and had sometimes abducted or abused passengers. There had long been allegations that Khmer insurgents on the border engaged in black marketing and in other criminal activity.
In 1987 estimates of KPNLAF strength varied widely. At the upper limit, a widely quoted total was 14,000 personnel. In view of the leadership dispute that debilitated the movement in 1985 and in 1986 and prevented its subsequent growth, this figure probably was a considerable exaggeration. A more realistic total was about 8,000 combatants, and KPNLAF leaders expressed the hope that an earnest recruitment drive then beginning might increase the movement’s strength to 18,000 by the end of the year.
In accordance with its recruitment and reorganization plans, the KPNLAF divided Cambodia into nine military regions, or operational zones. The force’s chain of command was headed by a general officer (in 1987, by General Sak Sutsakhan) who functioned as commander in chief. Reporting to him was a chief of staff, who exercised responsibility over four deputy chiefs of staff. Each of these latter officers was in charge of one of four sections dealing respectively with military operations, general administration, logistical affairs, and planning/psychological operations. At the next subordinate echelon were two or three assistant chiefs of staff, whose functions were undefined. Military units of the KPNLAF were described as battalions, regiments, and brigades, operating presumably from semi-permanent camps in inaccessible areas. Combat elements reportedly, were operating in three provinces of western Cambodia: Batdambang, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey, and Pouthisat. Actual deployment in the latter province, long a Khmer Rouge stronghold, however, was in question.
The KPNLAF, like the NADK, received most of its military assistance from China. Some aid and training was granted by ASEAN nations, however, especially by Singapore and by Malaysia. In late 1986, the Chinese reportedly delivered a shipment of rocket launchers; this was the first time the KPNLAF was equipped with effective antitank weapons.
KPNLAF combatants sometimes were garbed in camouflage fatigues and combat boots, both probably of noncommunist origin. At other times, they were observed, while on operations, to be wearing merely odds and ends of clothing, gleaned in refugee camps, rather than uniforms. No rank or branch insignia were discernible, but KPNLAF troops frequently wore plastic-laminated chest pocket badges with a photo of Son Sann and the noncommunist Cambodian flag.
Armée Nationale Sihanoukiste
The smaller of the two noncommunist resistance groups, the Armée National Sihanoukiste (ANS) owed allegiance to Sihanouk. It was the armed adjunct of FUNCINPEC, which rallied Sihanouk supporters clustered on the Thai border. The force was formed in June 1981, by consolidating the Movement for the National Liberation of Kampuchea (Mouvement pour la Libération Nationale du Kampuchea—MOULINAKA—see Appendix B) and at least two other armed groups of Sihanouk supporters grouped on the Thai border. These groups existed at first in conditions of near penury, their members poorly armed and equipped as well as half starved. Following the proclamation of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, international support consisting of armaments, supplies, and other nonlethal aid, principally from the ASEAN countries and from China, began to transform the ANS into a more effective movement. In about 1986 to 1987, it became the principal noncommunist insurgent force by default when the KPNLAF slipped from that position because of its internal leadership dispute.
No authoritative figures for the personnel strength of the ANS were available in the late 1980s. The most frequently cited totals ranged from a low of 7,000 to a high of 11,000 combatants. The former figure was quoted by Sihanouk, the latter by Sihanouk’s son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, some time afterward. In late 1987, Sihanouk also declared that the ANS maintained “8,500 fighters permanently inside Cambodia.” (This number would not necessarily include headquarters, staff, and support elements on the Thai border.)
The ANS was organized into a command structure and maneuver elements. The command structure was headed by the commander in chief of the ANS, who was assisted by both a chief and a deputy chief of staff. In 1987 the positions of commander and of Chief of Staff were held concurrently by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and that of deputy chief of staff by Major General Prince Norodom Chakrapong, both middle-aged sons of Sihanouk. Maneuver elements consisted of battalions, grouped under the first through the sixth brigades. There were, in addition, four independent regiments, at least one reportedly composed of Khmer Rouge deserters who had rallied to Sihanouk’s cause, and five independent commando groups, each composed of about seventy personnel.
Following the Vietnamese dry-season offensive of 1984 to 1985, the ANS made a major effort to deploy its fighters away from the border camps and more deeply into Cambodia. In 1987 according to Sihanouk, ANS combatants were deployed in five Cambodian provinces, including Batdambang and Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey on the western border with Thailand. Limited deployments also were reported as far east as Kampong Thum.
Photographic evidence indicated that the ANS, like the KPNLAF, was equipped principally with Chinese weapons. This included AK assault rifles, light machine guns, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launchers, and recoilless rifles. ANS combatants were dressed in a panoply of uniforms, some of them of ASEAN origin. These included camouflage fatigues and (T -shirts), visored caps, and combat boots. Indications of rank were not evident on uniforms; however, ANS members sometimes wore plastic-laminated chest pocket badges bearing a photograph of Sihanouk and a noncommunist Cambodian flag.
Kampuchean, or Khmer, People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces
The Kampuchean (or Khmer) People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces (KPRAF) constituted the regular forces of the pro-Hanoi People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Soon after the downfall of the Khmer Rouge, two reasons for the necessity of such forces became apparent to the PRK’s Vietnamese mentors when they installed the new Cambodian government in early 1979. First, if the new administration in Phnom Penh was to project internationally the image of being a legitimate sovereign state, it would need a national army of its own apart from the Vietnamese forces. Second, if the Vietnamese army was not to have to shoulder indefinitely its internal security mission in Cambodia, it would need to develop a Khmer military force that could be put in place as a surrogate for Vietnamese troops. Raising such an indigenous force presented no insurmountable obstacle for Hanoi at the time because several precedents already had been established. In Laos, the Vietnamese armed forces maintained a close training and coordinating relationship with their Laotian counterparts as a result of Hanoi’s military presence in the country. In Cambodia, Vietnam had been a mainstay for Khmer communist factions since 1954. The Vietnamese army also had helped train Pol Pot’s RAK and its successor, the CPNLAF, following the coup that deposed Sihanouk in 1970. More recently, Hanoi had helped raise and train a few, probably battalion-sized, regiments of Khmer troops that had fought alongside the Vietnamese during the invasion of Cambodia. With further Vietnamese tutelage, these Khmer units became the nucleus of a national army. From such ad hoc beginnings, the KPRAF grew as a military force and eventually gained its position as an instrument of both the party and the state. This development, however, was carefully shielded from the scrutiny of outsiders, and much that could be concluded about the armed forces of the PRK was based on analysis rather than incontrovertible hard data.
Foreign troops and advisers
In the late 1980s, Vietnamese units stationed in Cambodia represented a military force that had broken away from its revolutionary tradition and had become an army of occupation, a dramatic role change in view of the fact that its most formidable adversaries, the Khmer Rouge, were fellow communists and former allies. Consistently designated by Hanoi as “the Vietnamese volunteer army in Kampuchea,” the Vietnamese force, comprising some ten to twelve divisions, was made up of conscripts who supported a “regime of military administration.”
Military units totaling as many as 200,000 troops invaded Cambodia at the end of 1978 to eradicate the Khmer Rouge regime of Democratic Kampuchea and to install a more pliant government in Phnom Penh. After several years, Vietnam ostensibly began to decrease the size of its military contingent in Cambodia. The first recorded, but unannounced, withdrawal occurred in June 1981, when Vietnam’s 137th Division returned home. In July 1982, Hanoi announced publicly that as an “act of goodwill” it would withdraw an unspecified number of troops from Cambodia. These withdrawals became annual occurrences. In 1986 Vietnamese sources announced a pullout of 12,000 troops. In November 1987, an additional 20,000 Vietnamese military personnel were withdrawn. These retrenchments were conducted with considerable publicity and fanfare, including departure ceremonies in Phnom Penh and featuring medals for commanders and citations for units. Skeptics, however, contended that these movements were merely troop rotations. A 1987 study conducted by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok reached the same conclusion after its researchers interviewed groups of Vietnamese defectors.
Hanoi publicly committed itself to withdraw its occupation forces by 1990. It first announced this decision following an August 1985 meeting of Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian foreign ministers. The commitment to a pullout engendered continuing discussion, both by foreign observers and by Indochinese participants. What emerged was the clarifying qualification that a total Vietnamese military withdrawal was contingent upon the progress of pacification in Cambodia and upon the ability of the KPRAF to contain the insurgent threat without Vietnamese assistance. Prime Minister Hun Sen declared in a May 1987 interview that “if the situation evolves as is, we are hopeful that by 1990 all Vietnamese troops will be withdrawn … [but] if the troop withdrawal will be taken advantage of, we will have to negotiate to take appropriate measures….” Shortly thereafter, a KPRAF battalion commander told a Phnom Penh press conference that “Vietnamese forces could remain in Cambodia beyond 1990, if the Khmer Rouge resistance continues to pose a threat.” In an interview with a Western correspondent, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach repeated the 1990 withdrawal pledge, insisting that only foreign military intervention could convince Hanoi to change its plans. Some ASEAN and Western observers greeted declarations of a total pullout by 1990 with incredulity. Departing Vietnamese units reportedly left equipment behind in Cambodia, and it was suggested that they easily could return if it looked as though a province might be lost.
As Hanoi’s military presence in Cambodia approached its ninth year, it appeared that the Vietnamese troops stationed there were not frontline veterans. Most of Vietnam’s main force units and its best troops were deployed in the Red River Delta or on Vietnam’s northern border to contain any armed threat from China. Units in Cambodia were composed of conscripts from the southern provinces of Vietnam, or, according to refugee accounts, of military misfits and “troublemakers.” Some Vietnamese defectors in Thailand declared that they had volunteered for military service to get out of Vietnam and to have an opportunity for resettlement in third countries.
Vietnam’s presence in Cambodia reportedly consumed 40 to 50 percent of Hanoi’s military budget. Although substantial portions of the cost had been underwritten by Soviet grant aid, Vietnamese troops in Cambodia apparently were on short rations. Radio Hanoi reportedly commented on troops “dressed in rags, puritanically fed, and mostly disease ridden.” The parlous state of Vietnamese forces in Cambodia also was the subject of a report by the director of a Hanoi military medical institute. According to media accounts, the report acknowledged that Vietnamese troops in the country suffered from widespread and serious malnutrition and that beriberi occurred in epidemic proportions.
The Vietnamese military headquarters in Cambodia was located at Chamka Morn in Phnom Penh. In the mid-1980s, it was responsible to the Vietnamese Fourth Corps commander, at that time General Le Duc Anh (subsequently promoted to minister of national defense). Vietnamese military authorities divided Cambodia into four military regions. These areas probably coincided with KPRAF regions. Each of these regions, in turn, corresponded to a Vietnamese military front that exercised tactical responsibility over it. The four Vietnamese military fronts were Front 479, headquartered at Barai Toek Thla Airport, Siemreab-Otdar Meanchey Province; Front 579, at Stoeng Treng City, Stoeng Treng Province; Front 779, at the Chhupp rubber plantation, Kampong Cham Province; and Front 979, at Somrong Tong, Kampong Spoe Province. Front 479 was considered the most critical because of heavy insurgent activity in the area. A Special Military Administrative Zone was also created, comprising the vital heartland of the country around the Tonle Sap and the alluvial plain to the southeast. The relationship of the zone to the military regions and to the fronts was undetermined. Along the Cambodian coast, the Vietnamese established another type of military jurisdiction. Naval Zone Five comprised the shorelines of Kaoh Kong and Kampot provinces and their contiguous territorial waters. The headquarters of the naval zone was at Kampong Saom.
Vietnamese military advisers also were detached to serve with KPRAF main and provincial forces down to the battalion, and perhaps even the company, level. The functions and the chain of command of these advisers remained unknown, except that it could be assumed that they reported to the Vietnamese military region or front headquarters.
1975 – Lon Nol is overthrown as the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot occupy Phnom Penh. Sihanouk briefly becomes head of state, the country is re-named Kampuchea.
All city dwellers are forcibly moved to the countryside to become agricultural workers. Money becomes worthless, basic freedoms are curtailed and religion is banned. The Khmer Rouge coin the phrase “Year Zero”.
Hundreds of thousands of the educated middle-classes are tortured and executed in special centres. Others starve, or die from disease or exhaustion. The total death toll during the next three years is estimated to be at least 1.7 million.
1976 – The country is re-named Democratic Kampuchea. Sihanouk resigns, Khieu Samphan becomes head of state, Pol Pot is prime minister.
1977 – Fighting breaks out with Vietnam.
1978 – Vietnamese forces invade in a lightning assault.
1979 January – The Vietnamese take Phnom Penh. Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge forces flee to the border region with Thailand.
The People’s Republic of Kampuchea is established. Many elements of life before the Khmer Rouge take-over are re-established.
1981 – The pro-Vietnamese Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party wins parliamentary elections. The international community refuses to recognize the new government.
The government-in-exile, which includes the Khmer Rouge and Sihanouk, retains its seat at the United Nations.
1985 – Hun Sen becomes prime minister. Cambodia is plagued by guerrilla warfare. Hundreds of thousands become refugees.
1989 – Vietnamese troops withdraw. Hun Sen tries to attract foreign investment by abandoning socialism. The country is re-named the State of Cambodia. Buddhism is re-established as the state religion.
An uneasy peace
1991 – A peace agreement is signed in Paris. A UN transitional authority shares power temporarily with representatives of the various factions in Cambodia. Sihanouk becomes head of state.
1993 – General election sees the royalist Funcinpec party win the most seats followed by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
A three-party coalition is formed with Funcinpec’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh as prime minister and Hun Sen as deputy prime minister.
The monarchy is restored, Sihanouk becomes king again. The country is re-named the Kingdom of Cambodia. The government-in-exile loses its seat at the UN.
1994 – Thousands of Khmer Rouge guerrillas surrender in government amnesty.
1996 – Deputy leader of Khmer Rouge Ieng Sary forms a new party and is granted amnesty by Sihanouk.
1997 – Hun Sen mounts a coup against the prime minister, Prince Ranariddh, and replaces him with Ung Huot. The coup attracts international condemnation. The Khmer Rouge put Pol Pot on trial and sentence him to life imprisonment.
1998 – Prince Ranariddh is tried in his absence and found guilty of arms smuggling, but is then pardoned by the king.
1998 April – Pol Pot dies in his jungle hideout.
1998 July – Elections are won by Hun Sen’s CPP, amid allegations of harassment. A coalition is formed between the CPP and Funcinpec. Hun Sen becomes prime minister, Ranariddh is president of the National Assembly.
Pol Pot died in 1998 in his jungle hideout
2001 – A law setting up a tribunal to bring genocide charges against Khmer Rouge leaders is passed. International donors, encouraged by reform efforts, pledge $560 million in aid.
2001 June – US-based Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) members convicted of 2000 attack in Phnom Penh. Group pledges to continue the campaign to overthrow Hun Sen.
2001 December – First bridge across the Mekong River opens, linking east and west Cambodia.
2002 -First multi-party local elections; ruling Cambodian People’s Party wins in all but 23 out of 1,620 communes. Ranariddh’s half-brother Prince Norodom Chakrapong sets up his own Norodom Chakrapong Khmer Soul Party.
2003 – Serious diplomatic upset with Thailand over comments attributed to a Thai TV star that the Angkor Wat temple complex was stolen from Thailand. Angry crowds attack the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party wins general elections but fails to secure sufficient majority to govern alone.
Hun Sen re-elected
2004 – After nearly a year of political deadlock, Prime Minister Hun Sen is re-elected after CPP strikes a deal with the royalist Funcinpec party. Parliament ratifies kingdom’s entry into World Trade Organisation (WTO). King Sihanouk abdicates and is succeeded by his son Norodom Sihamoni. The leader of the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party lives in exile
2005 February – Opposition leader Sam Rainsy goes abroad after parliament strips him of immunity from prosecution, leaving him open to defamation charges brought by the ruling coalition.
2005 April – Tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders gets green light from UN after years of debate about funding.
2005 December – Rainsy is convicted in absentia of defaming Hun Sen and is sentenced to 18 months in prison
2006 February – Rainsy receives a royal pardon and returns home.
2006 May – Parliament votes to abolish prison terms for defamation.
2006 July – Ta Mok, one of the top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, dies aged 80.
2006 November – Funcinpec party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, drops Prince Norodom Ranariddh as its leader.
Khmer Rouge trials
2007 March – Ranariddh is sentenced in absentia to 18 months in prison for selling the Funcinpec party’s headquarters – a charge he denies.
2007 July – UN-backed tribunals begin questioning Khmer Rouge suspects about allegations of genocide.
2007 September – Most senior surviving Khmer Rouge member, Nuon Chea – “Brother Number Two” – is arrested and charged with crimes against humanity.
2008 April – US court convicts CFF leader Chhun Yasith of masterminding 2000 attack in Phnom Penh.
2008 July – Hun Sen’s ruling CPP claims victory in parliamentary elections criticised by EU monitors. Cambodia and Thailand move troops to disputed land near Preah Vihear temple after decision to list it as UN World Heritage Site fans nationalist sentiment on both sides.
2008 October – Two Cambodian soldiers die in an exchange of fire with Thai troops in the disputed area. Thai soldier dies later of wounds.
New spat with Thailand
2009 – Former Khmer Rouge leader Kaing Guek Eav known as Duch goes on trial on charges of presiding over the murder and torture of thousands of people as head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison camp.
Parliament again strips opposition leader Sam Rainsy of immunity. He is charged but fails to appear in court.
Another row with Thailand, after Cambodia refuses to extradite ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and appoints him as an economic adviser instead.
2010 – Comrade Duch is found guilty of crimes against humanity and given 35-year prison sentence.
Diplomatic ties with Thailand resumed after Cambodian government announces resignation of Thaksin Shinawatra.
Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy is sentenced in absentia to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of manipulating a map to suggest Cambodia is losing land to Vietnam. Cambodians regard their ancient temples as a key part of their identity
2011 – Tensions rise as Cambodia charges two Thai citizens with spying after they were arrested for crossing the disputed border. Respective forces exchange fire across the border. Hun Sen calls for UN peacekeepers.
Three most senior surviving Khmer Rouge members, including leader Pol Pot’s right-hand man, “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, go on trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Cambodia and Thailand agree to withdraw troops from disputed area.
2012 February – Duch loses appeal against conviction at UN-backed tribunal and has sentence increased to life.
2012 March – A second judge quits the tribunal. Swiss Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet says going because his Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng, had thwarted attempts to investigate some former members of the Khmer Rouge regime.
2012 April – Outspoken environmental activist Chut Wutty is shot dead in a confrontation with police while travelling in a threatened forest region in the south-west.
2012 May – Government suspends the granting of land for development by private companies in a bid to curb evictions and illegal logging.
Border tension eases
2012 July – Cambodia and Thailand withdraw their troops from a disputed border area near the Preah Vihear temple in line with a ruling by the International Court of Justice which aims to halt outbreaks of armed conflict in recent years.
2012 October – Former king, Norodom Sihanouk, dies of a heart attack. He was 89.
2012 November – Government approves the controversial Lower Sesan 2 hydroelectric dam project on a tributary of the Mekong.
2013 February – Tens of thousands of people turn out in Phnom Penh for the cremation of the former king, Norodom Sihanouk.
2013 March – Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary dies while awaiting trial for genocide, leaving only Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan among prominent Khmer Rouge figures still alive and under arrest by the UN-backed tribunal.
2013 June – Parliament passes a bill making it illegal to deny that atrocities were committed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.
2013 July – Opposition leader Sam Rainsy returns from exile.
Parliamentary elections. Ruling party of premier Hun Sen claims victory, opposition alleges widespread irregularities.
2013 September – Mass protests in Phnom Penh over contested election results. Parliament approves new five-year term for Hun Sen. Opposition boycotts opening of parliament.
2014 January – Riot police clear a two-week opposition protest camp held in Phnom Penh as part of a long-running campaign launched against the government after the disputed 2013 election.
2014 July – More than 150,000 Cambodian workers return home from neighboring Thailand after rumors circulate that the new military junta there will crack down on illegal migrants.
Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) agrees to end its year-long boycott of parliament as part of an agreement with Prime Minister Hun Sen to break the deadlock over the disputed 2013 parliamentary election.
2014 August – A UN-backed court in Cambodia sentences two senior Khmer Rouge leaders to life in prison for their role in the terror that swept the country in the 1970s. The two, second-in-command Nuon Chea, and the former head of state Khieu Samphan, are the first top Khmer Rouge figures to be jailed.
2015 January – Prime Minister Hun Sen marks 30 years in power.
2015 March – A UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia indicts two more former commanders of the Khmer Rouge, Im Cheam, and Meas Muth, with crimes against humanity.
2016 July – Kem Ley, a political commentator and prominent critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen is shot dead in the capital Phnom Penh.
2016 September – Prime Minister Hun Sen declares a political “ceasefire” following a wave of prosecutions of opposition members ahead of elections in 2018.
2016 October – Opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) resumes its months-long parliamentary boycott over alleged threats from the ruling party.
2016 November – A UN-backed tribunal upholds the life sentences of former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan after they appealed against their convictions. for crimes against humanity.
2016 December – Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy is sentenced to five years in prison after a document is published on his Facebook page which the government says is a forgery. Rainsy was found guilty of posting an inaccurate post about a border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam.
2017 February – Sam Rainsy resigns as head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). He had been in self-imposed exile since 2005 when parliament stripped him of his immunity.
Parliament amends a law to bar anyone convicted of an offense from running for office. The legislation in effect bans main opposition politician Sam Rainsy from participating in politics after he was found guilty of defamation.
2017 March – Human rights activist Kem Sokha is appointed as the new leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), replacing Sam Rainsy.
2017 September – Opposition leader Kem Sokha is charged with treason.
2017 November – Supreme Court dissolves the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the country’s only significant opposition party.
20,000 people died of exhaustion or disease during the evacuation of Phnom Penh and its aftermath. Many of those forced to evacuate the cities were resettled in newly created villages, which lacked food, agricultural implements, and medical care. Many who lived in cities had lost the skills necessary for survival in an agrarian environment. Thousands starved before the first harvest. Hunger and malnutrition—bordering on starvation—were constant during those years. Most military and civilian leaders of the former regime who failed to disguise their pasts were executed.
Some of the ethnicities in Cambodia, such as the Cham and Vietnamese, suffered specific and targeted, and violent persecutions, to the point of some international sources referring to it as the “Cham genocide”. Entire families and towns were targeted and attacked with the goal of significantly diminishing their numbers and eventually eliminating them. Life in ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ was strict and brutal. In many areas of the country, people were rounded up and executed for speaking a foreign language, wearing glasses, scavenging for food, being absent from government-assigned work, and even crying for dead loved ones. Former businessmen and bureaucrats were hunted down and killed along with their entire families; the Khmer Rouge feared that they held beliefs that could lead them to oppose their regime. A few Khmer Rouge loyalists were even killed for failing to find enough ‘counter-revolutionaries’ to execute.
When Cambodian socialists began to rebel in the eastern zone of Cambodia, Pol Pot ordered his armies to exterminate 1.5 million eastern Cambodians which he branded as “Cambodians with Vietnamese minds” in the area. The purge was done speedily and efficiently as Pol Pot’s soldiers quickly killed at least more than 100,000 to 250,000 eastern Cambodians right after deporting them to execution site locations in Central, North and North-Western Zones within a month’s time, making it the bloodiest episode of mass murder under Pol Pot’s regime.
Religious institutions were not spared by the Khmer Rouge as well, in fact, religion was so viciously persecuted to such an extent that the vast majority of Cambodia’s historic architecture, 95% of Cambodia’s Buddhist temples, was completely destroyed.
1.671 million to 1.871 million Cambodians died as a result of the Khmer Rouge policy, or between 21% and 24% of Cambodia’s 1975 population. Fewer than 2 million unnatural deaths under the Khmer Rouge out of a 1975 Cambodian population of 7.8 million; 33.5% of Cambodian men died under the Khmer Rouge compared to 15.7% of Cambodian women. The most widely accepted estimates of excess deaths under the Khmer Rouge range from 1.5 million to 2 million.
An estimated 300,000 Cambodians starved to death between 1979 and 1980, largely as a result of the after-effects of Khmer Rouge policies.
Modern Cambodia (1993–present)
On 23 October 1991, the Paris Conference reconvened to sign a comprehensive settlement giving the UN full authority to supervise a cease-fire, repatriate the displaced Khmer along the border with Thailand, disarm and demobilise the factional armies, and prepare the country for free and fair elections. Prince Sihanouk, President of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia (SNC), and other members of the SNC returned to Phnom Penh in November 1991, to begin the resettlement process in Cambodia. The UN Advance Mission for Cambodia (UNAMIC) was deployed at the same time to maintain liaison among the factions and begin demining operations to expedite the repatriation of approximately 370,000 Cambodians from Thailand.
On 16 March 1992, the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) arrived in Cambodia to begin implementation of the UN settlement plan and became operational on 15 March 1992 under Yasushi Akashi, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General. UNTAC grew into a 22,000-strong civilian and military peacekeeping force tasked to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections for a constituent assembly.
Cambodia is still infested with countless land mines, indiscriminately planted by all warring parties during the decades of war and upheaval.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved ahead of the 2018 Cambodian general election and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party also enacted tighter curbs on mass media. The CPP won every seat in the National Assembly without a major opposition, effectively solidifying de facto one-party rule in the country.
Cambodia’s longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, has a very firm grip on power. He has been accused of the crackdown on opponents and critics. His Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has been in power since 1979. In December 2021, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced his support for his son Hun Manet to succeed him after the next election, which is expected to take place in 2023.