our years after military units loyal to Hun Sen's CPP routed Funcinpec forces
and prompted a bloody purge that resulted in the torture and murder of around
100 Funcinpec party faithful, both victor and vanquished appear keen to forget
the coup ever occurred.
A CPP armoured personnel carrier on the move in Phnom Penh on July 5, 1997.
No official Funcinpec memorial was held for
victims on the coup's July 5 anniversary, which Prince Sisowath Sirirath,
Funcinpec Co-Minister of Defense, recalls as "a bad dream".
July 3 about the victims of the violence that devastated Funcinpec militarily
and sidelined the party politically, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, President of
Funcinpec and the National Assembly, was brief in his response.
"I am not
only pained to think about it, but I am thankful for their sacrifice," he
In a June 27 interview Sirirath preferred to emphasize the gains in
internal and political stability that followed the 1997 fighting and stressed
the strictly non-confrontational nature of post-coup Funcinpec.
here to help," he said. "We are here as a democratic political force; a
protector of human rights."
Hun Sen advisor Om Yen Tieng summed up the
CPP attitude to the coup as one of collective amnesia in the name of peaceful
"We forgot everything, such as the verdict of the court
case [of treason charges against Prince Ranariddh, later pardoned] and we
tolerate each other [in the interests of] peace," Yen Tieng said.
only official ceremony to remember victims was held by the Sam Rainsy Party
Speaking at the July 5 Bangsokol Buddhist ceremony at SRP
headquarters in Phnom Penh, Kong Korm, Acting SRP President, was far less
diplomatic in his assessment of events four years ago than his CPP and Funcinpec
"Today we commemorate victims of the killings of July
[which were] not different from [those of] the Khmer Rouge regime," Korm said.
"The Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge in Pailin joined
forces to topple then-First Prime Minister Ranariddh and other parties [to]
continue in power."
Attempts by victims and victims' relatives to seek
compensation for their sufferings through criminal and civil legal action have
An SRP lawyer who spoke to the Post on July 3 blamed
CPP bias within the courts and CPP pressure from outside the judicial system for
blocking justice for the victims.