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The founding of the CPP

Dear Editor,
In an analysis titled Out of government’s reach, former opposition leader Rainsy plays ‘bad cop’ published in The Phnom Penh Post on May 16, its author wrote, “In a video posted to Facebook, Rainsy expounds on the ‘hidden origins of the CPP’, launching into a convoluted speech calling attention to Vietnamese communists’ hand in creating the first iteration of the CPP in 1951 in the form of the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party” (KPRP).

My presentation in Khmer on the origins of the CPP in the late 1940s and early 1950s was not “convoluted” in the sense that I simply exposed historical facts as clearly explained in authoritative history books such as How Pol Pot Came to Power by Ben Kiernan (Yale University Press, 1985) and The Tragedy of Cambodian History by David Chandler (Yale University Press, 1991).

These books and other historical documents show the determining role played by the Vietnamese communist movement founded by Ho Chi Minh and labelled “Viet Minh” in the creation of the Cambodian communist party under the name of the KPRP, the precursor of the current CPP.

According to Chandler the KPRP at its creation “was subject to Vietnamese guidance,” with preparatory meetings for its founding held in 1950 and 1951 in Vietnam and its statutes first draft in Vietnamese (page 50).

According to Kiernan “the first communists reported to be active in Kampuchea were Vietnamese” (page 8). He also mentions, “In October 1949, in the first acknowledged Vietnamese intervention in the country, large units of Viet Minh troops moved into Kampot and Kampong Speu. They brought Viet Minh forces in Kampuchea to a total of three regiments, about three thousands troops” (page 74).

Kiernan further specifies, “By late 1951, according to a Vietnamese document [. . .] the newly-formed KPRP claimed one thousand Khmer members, as well as three thousand Vietnamese” (page 83).

Until now the circumstances surrounding the founding of the CPP (officially on June 28, 1951, with its anniversaries regularly and pompously celebrated by the ruling party since 1979) have never been explained to the population and never been taught at school, especially when it comes to exposing the central role played by Vietnamese communists at those times, with heavy political consequences perceived until now.

The Cambodian population, especially the youth, eagerly want to discover their country’s history. Not surprisingly, what I have exposed through a series of video clips posted on my Facebook page has attracted a lot of attention: the three clips posted over the last three weeks have been viewed by nearly 2 million people.

How come the CPP-led government, usually quick to protest the divulgation of unpleasant facts and to file defamation lawsuits against its opponents, does not react to my presentation and prefers to remain totally silent when it comes to this telling part of Cambodia’s history that concerns them most?

Sam Rainsy
Former president of the CNRP

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