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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sihanouk declares his exile

Sihanouk declares his exile

King Father Norodom Sihanouk says he will not return to Cambodia and will follow

the example of a Khmer prince who died in exile, according to an October 16 statement

sent from Beijing.

"Nowadays we are separated between people who say Cambodia gains more land (also

gaining water for people to use) and people who think Cambodian land is being eaten

a lot," said the letter, sent to the Post and published on his Web Site.

"These days I am not the one to say which side is wrong or right," wrote

the former King, who abdicated one year ago and turns 83 this month. "That is

why I won't return back to the country."

"I would like to withdraw myself and please don't accuse me of being a traitor

to the nation."

In an October 14 speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he would order broadcasters

to play a 1970s song accusing the former King of ceding land to the Viet Cong.

A Lon Nol era song was reported to have been broadcast on state television on October

17. It included the words "Feel sorrow, Khmer land from [our] ancestors the

King sold to the Viet Cong, betrayed nation, religion."

Sihanouk said that although he had explained his position on border issues in the

past, he felt compelled to defend himself against "enemies, both outside and

inside the country, [who] accuse me of being a traitor to the nation."

The three-page letter stressed that Sihanouk would like to regain Kampuchea Krom

(now southern Vietnam) and Koh Throl, an island off Cambodia's southern coast, from

Vietnamese ownership.

Sihanouk ended his letter by citing the example of Prince Aruna Yukunthor, the son

of Sihanouk's great-grandfather King Norodom, who died in exile in 1934 after trying

to oppose the extension of French power in Cambodia.

"I want to finish it now, if there are any injustices that happen to me, I won't

be quiet and will struggle until the end of my life," Sihanouk wrote.

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