The Khmer Rouge faction is trying to derail the U.N.-sponsored peace. It seems to
me that they are in a catch-22 position. They cannot win the peace. They cannot win
the war. Pol Pot and Khieu Samphan know they will not get many seats in the National
Assembly because people still remember their reign of terror that killed 3 million
people. Their best bet is to continue the fighting. They have been successful at
being guerrillas. The Khmer Rouge leaders believe that members of the anti-corruption
movement, along with the poor and the people in the countryside will join them as
they did in the 1970s when they persuaded people to take up guns against the Lon
Currently the main problem with the Khmer Rouge is that they refuse to disarm. It
would be very dangerous to disarm the Hun Sen forces, who are believed to be the
only ones that can stop the Khmer Rouge from coming into the cities and finishing
what they started on April 17, 1975. The Khmer Rouge keep saying that Vietnamese
troops are still in Cambodia, yet the United Nations cannot find any proof of this.
We all know the Khmer Rouge has buried many weapons which were supplied shamelessly
by Red China for many years. China intended to use the Khmer Rouge to punish Vietnam's
occupation of Cambodia. China has no interest in Cambodia. It simply dislikes Vietnam.
Vietnam did, however, strengthen the Khmer Rouge guerrilla movement and has helped
them since the Indochina war. In the end, the Khmer Rouge turned on their sponsors,
in part because Cambodians traditionally dislike Vietnam's expansionist endeavors
of the past.
I believe the Khmer Rouge should be at the bargaining table. The U.N. must find a
solution to convince them that Vietnam's troops are no longer in Cambodia. It is
too late to exclude the Khmer Rouge from the peace process, and Cambodia's peace
will be jeopardized without them. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Vietnam
is worried about its own economic and political problems. It has began focusing internally,
and is much less concerned about Cambodia's woes.
The Cambodian people need Prince Sihanouk to help unite the various political factions.
I hope he can persuade the Khmer Rouge to disarm its troops and allow the U.N. to
organize a free and fair election.
Cambodia cannot afford any more war. The people have been suffering too deeply
already. I hope the Cambodian leaders will get together without delay, and hold a
general election in May of 1993, as it has been scheduled. After enduring pain for
such a long time, the Cambodian people deserve to live without fear, and in peace,
and I hope that the newly-elected government will let them enjoy a new life.
- Dith Pran is a photographer for the New York Times whose story was told in
the 1985 film "The Killing Fields."