Diplomatic and military documents collected by U.N. situation investigation teams
in Ko Krabas and Phum Chat after the Aug. 18 offensive were turned over in the last
several weeks to the interim government without being analyzed by U.N. observers,
U.N. military spokesman John Weiland said this week.
"These documents would have been fascinating for historians," said John
Brown, an American academic writing his dissertion on the Cambodian conflict. "They
show the thinking of the DK and the manouevering between the parties within the coalition
government before the peace agreement."
At Phum Chat, a small wooden house within the town's administrative area contained
correspondence between the leaders of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea,
annotated press clippings from regional newspapers, memos of meetings from Sihanouk
to Khieu Samphan, and battlefield reports. Arranged in chronological order, the library
seems to have contained the DK diplomatic records covering a period from the early
eighties until the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement. Many documents had been
carried away by the fleeing DK, and CAF soldiers reported papers lying along the
roadside leading into Thailand.
The CAF had also ransacked the library searching for useful military information,
but they felt the historical documents held little value. "We took a truckload
of documents away from Phum Chat," said a ex-KPNLF soldier in Thmar Pouk, "but
the English and the French weren't any use to us so we tossed them out."
U.N. observers went in several days after the Aug. 18 attack and sifted through piles
of press clippings and the occasional Thai clothing catalogue.
Among the documents found by the U.N. team were a signed and stamped blank SOC passport,
several roles of film showing meetings with westerners in Phum Chat, one piece of
correspondence from a Swiss bank and a document entitled "What To Do When You
Capture an UNTAC Person."
In Thmar Pouk, CAF soldiers retained one box of papers. While many documents captured
at Phum Chat had been destroyed, a handwritten message on a torn notebook page from
Prince Sihanouk to Khieu Samphan requested that Khieu Samphan attend a 1987 conference
in Indonesia. A draft contract, signed by a Japanese real estate company but not
countersigned by Prince Sihanouk, Son Sann or Khieu Sampahn, outlined the sale of
the coalition embassy in Tokyo for U.S. $96,000,000. Battlefield reports on onionskin
paper concerning casualties sustained in the west and northwest of the country were
filed in date order, and a four-page FUNCINPEC memo to the DK reiterated the need
to change the name of the country from "Kampuchea" to "Cambodia"
in order to "erase the bitter memories of 1975-1979."
Again and again throughout the memos, letters and reports the DK were intransigent
in their positions on many issues, even down to what choices should be made for the
national anthem and flag. In document after document, the vehement hatred of the
Vietnamese spilled from paragraph to paragraph in internal memos, press releases
and correspondence with foreign statesmen.
Before the U.N. observers arrived CAF forces at Ko Krabas had rummaged piles of papers
written in Khmer, English and Thai. "I only took documents listing numbers of
men and the type of weapons they had," said Sao Sai, a 34 year old Lt Colonel
formerly in the ANKI army. "The Thai and English didn't interest me," he
One Khmer language document was a handbook instructing how to choose and promote
officers. Printed in 1992, the pamphlet predicted the KR would win Cambodia after
taking Kompong Thom through a tactical battle, the countryside by stealth, and Phnom
Penh by negotition.
"If we are right and we are strong we will win," the text continued. "If
we are strong, even if we are not right, we will still win."