June 20, 2021 marked the 44th anniversary of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “resistance journey” to liberate the nation from the Khmer Rouge on June 20, 1977. The prime minister also spoke of the struggle for liberation and asked Cambodians about alternatives.
In a Facebook post on June 20, Hun Sen raised the question what would have happened if he had not lead the resistance from June 20, 1977. He also asked how would have Pol Pot killed him, and who else would have formed the armed resistance to salvage the nation.
He also asked whether there would have been a Paris Peace Agreement without his struggle.
“These summary questions always stick in my mind and I could not answer them on my own. I let patriots find the answers,” he stated.
“Although Cambodians and I are enjoying happiness, I have never forgotten the hundreds of thousands of tears when I left my homeland and the Cambodian people who were still suffering, especially leaving behind my pregnant wife,” he said.
“I had no other choice than this because we could not ask Pol Pot for pity. This dangerous choice and those tears have brought about happiness and prosperity until today,” he added.
He continued that he had recounted this painful history several times, but he had never revealed the questions.
The questions are were other patriots forming the National Salvation Solidarity Armed Forces instead of me? How did the journey to liberate the country occur? Were there solutions through negotiations and the Paris Agreement? And was there a win-win policy to end the civil war to bring peace and development like today?
In a video documentary titled the “Journey toward this National Salvation, June 20, 1977,” Hun Sen, who was 25 at the time, and four others decided to leave Cambodia, wives and unborn child in order to travel across the border into Vietnam and seek support to liberate the country.
According to the video, Hun Sen and Nuch Thorng, Nhek Huon, San Sanh and Va Por Ean fled to Vietnam to seek support to overthrow Pol Pot’s genocidal regime.
To mark this journey, Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Vietnamese Defence Minister Phan Van Giang on June 20 presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for a Cambodian-Vietnamese friendship building in memory of the resistance journey in Region X16 in Tonloung village in Koh Thma commune in Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district.
The ceremony was also held to inaugurate other achievements in this area which had been built for the same purpose. The place is where the group fled at night to Vietnam.
Tea Banh planted 77 trees representing the year Hun Sen started the journey to liberate the country. He said that since 2017, the national liberation anniversary has been celebrated and memorials have been constructed to leave a legacy for younger generations.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said that the prime minister’s group was the first resistance movement to rise up against the Khmer Rouge.
“At that time, we can see that there were not any Khmer resistance movements. The creation of this resistance movement of Samdech Hun Sen risked sacrificing his life for the cause of liberating the nation because at the time his forces were small. The Khmer Rouge were barbaric,” he said.