Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said that, with the 20th anniversary of the end of civil war with the Khmer Rouge being this year, the Kingdom will hold the biggest celebration yet in December to mark the end of the bloodshed.
Speaking in Kandal province at the groundbreaking of National Road 5, the prime minister said he will arrange a celebration at the Win-Win Monument on December 29, the day on which in 1998 Khmer Rouge politicians Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea arrived at Hun Sen’s residence for peace talks.
He said the Cambodian people should never forget the atrocities the Khmer Rouge committed, with his government never allowing this to happen.
“I struggled for all the bones of the victims and it will not be permitted to let the memory of what happened burn down. We need to keep it . . . by forgetting and burning what happened we destroy the evidence of genocide. Even in Hiroshima, they also keep the memory of what happened too. Therefore, for us, we need to keep the bones at Tuol Sleng and other killing sites as evidence. We are currently also working on the trial of Pol Pot’s group,” Hun Sen said.
“In 1998, we ended the war, and this year marks the 20th anniversary. On Saturday evening, I discussed with [Defence Minister] Tea Banh that on December 29, we will celebrate the anniversary at the Win-Win Monument.”
He went on to say that he first toppled the regime of Pol Pot, before then going on to bring about and maintain peace, stability and development in the Kingdom. The prime minister said that now Cambodia is at peace with him leading the country. Hun Sen said that peace must be maintained, as without peace there can be no development.
“What we want the most is peace. In the past we had war, schools and pagodas were turned into killing facilities. We cannot let this happen again. At all costs, peace must be maintained. If we have no peace, we will not develop and there will be no prosperity. Democracy and human rights can also only exist in countries where there is peace and no war,” he said.
At the national road groundbreaking on Monday morning, Hun Sen said he has been in the driver’s seat for 33 years and has served to help Cambodia develop and create a safe country for all Cambodians.
“This driver operates this vehicle . . . as the prime minister for 33 years, I have not endangered people, but I have pulled people from danger to safety. I hope that people will contribute to maintaining peace.”
Defence Minister Tea Banh confirmed that Cambodia will hold a special celebration on December 29 to mark the end of major conflict with the Khmer Rouge in 1998, saying that the day will try to reflect the “win-win policy which managed to end the [war]”.
“We will try to build the day around the meanings and spirit of the win-win policy . . . it will be a huge celebration.”
Former CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy, however, said Hun Sen did not single-handedly bring an end to the war.
“This is his right as the prime minister to say that. Even if he has said it like this, the world and all the Cambodian people know that the United Nations and other sides in the Kingdom played an essential role in bringing peace to Cambodia and creating the Paris Peace Accord,” he said.
He went on to say that it must not be forgotten, also, that Hun Sen was initially among the Khmer Rouge ranks before he defected to the Vietnamese side.
“We all know what the Khmer Rouge regime did to the Cambodian people, and everyone knows that Samdech Hun Sen was among them,” Channy said.
“The ‘win-win policy’ only means that the CPP is the winner . . . while other parties suffer suppression.”