Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 2 commemorated the 44th anniversary of the 1978 establishment of the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation – commonly known by its French acronym FUNSK – to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime.

He recalled that the FUNSK was established by patriotic individuals at home and abroad, including incumbent National Assembly president Heng Samrin, the late Senate president Chea Sim and himself. The FUNSK’s persistent struggle culminated in the eventual liberation of the country from the Khmer Rouge reign of terror on January 7, 1979.

The movement was established in Cheung Khlou village of Thnuo 2 commune in Kratie province’s Snuol district, which he referred to as the liberation region. The premier noted that the united front has since changed its name to Solidarity Front for the Development of the Cambodian Motherland.

“In response to the FUNSK’s appeal, people from all corners of Cambodia stood united as a force of national solidarity. With the help of volunteer troops from Vietnam and the support of friends from near and far, it toppled the Democratic Kampuchea regime and achieved the great victory of January 7, 1979,” he said in a December 2 social media post, using the official name of the Khmer Rouge regime.

“The January 7 victory ended the darkest period in Cambodian history and ushered in a new era for the Cambodian people. Because our motherland was restored, we now enjoy rights, freedom and opportunities. All Cambodians realise that without the December 2 birth and the January 7 victory, they would not enjoy the development of the modern age. This is a historical fact,” he concluded.

A day prior to Hun Sen’s public address marking the occasion, on the morning of December 1, the remains of 49 FUNSK fighters were repatriated from Vietnam, with both nations participating in a handover ceremony at the historic Techo Koh Thmor X-16 site in Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district, which shares its border with Vietnam to the east and Kratie province’s Snuol district to the north.

The remains of 49 FUNSK fighters were repatriated from Vietnam on the morning of December 1, in a handover ceremony at the historic Techo Koh Thmor X-16 site in Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district. SUPPLIED

The ceremony was presided over by Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of the National Military Police. Also in attendance were senior officials from Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its armed forces, in addition to local authorities from both sides of the border.

"After this ceremony, Cambodia will hold a procession to carry the remains of the 49 FUNSK fighters from Vietnam to the military island at the Techo Koh Thmor X-16 site," Sokha said.

Sokha told The Post that Minister of National Defence Tea Banh was expected to attend the cremation ceremony for the repatriated remains of the 49 soldiers on December 2.

"The cremated ashes will be kept temporarily in urns in the cultural room of the Friendship Building," he said.

On November 26, Sokha was on hand for the exhumation of the remains of the FUNSK soldiers entombed at the Cambodian martyrs’ monument in Vietnam's Dong Nai province. He thanked the Vietnamese army and people for helping to overthrow the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and for caring for the remains of the fighters for decades since then.

He also thanked the Vietnamese for setting up a monument to the Cambodian martyrs and for establishing the area as an official historical site

"More than 44 years have passed since the loss of the 49 fighters who died during the overthrow of the genocidal regime. Like the lyrics to the old song go: 'Motherland, I will always miss you'. Today, the government assigns our technical team to cooperate with our Vietnamese friends to bring these 49 Cambodians back to their homeland to meet their family, relatives and compatriots once again," said Sokha.