Phnom Penh has been festooned with banners heralding the upcoming ‘Victory Over Genocide Day’ on January 7. The banners, which bear the Cambodian flag and that of the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party, feature slogans like, ‘Absolutely protect the social achievements that have been achieved since the January 7 victory’.
The divisive holiday marks the day in 1979 the Khmer Rouge lost Phnom Penh to the invading Vietnamese army and a handful of Khmer Rouge defectors – including Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The CPP has long promoted the holiday to burnish its image as national liberator, though others, particularly members of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, have viewed it as marking the start of a 10-year Vietnamese occupation and the installation of a Hanoi-backed regime that would eventually become the CPP.
The holiday has taken on added significance this year following the widely decried dissolution of the CNRP, which the government justified as necessary to preserve the ‘peace and stability’ won in 1979.