June 21, 2022
HANOI — Việt Nam and Cambodia on Monday jointly held an event in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the historical journey by now Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen to seek Vietnamese help to overthrow Pol Pot’s genocidal regime (June 20, 1977- 2022).
The event took place at the “X16” point, a border area between Lộc Ninh District, the southern province of Bình Phước in Việt Nam, and Memot District of Cambodia’s Tbong Khmum, where the Cambodian leader first set foot in Việt Nam’s land 45 years ago.
Cambodian leader Hun Sen, received by Vietnamese counterpart Phạm Minh Chính in Bình Phước Province, expressed his gratitude to the Vietnamese Party, State, and people for supporting him from the early days of his journey to save Cambodia from Pol Pot.
The two PMs took part in a tree-planting ceremony and also met and spoke with local residents, where PM Hun Sen underscored the Vietnamese people’s pure, sincere, and righteous international spirit and the special solidarity and friendship between Việt Nam and Cambodia.
Hun Sen, then a 25-year-old lieutenant colonel of Region 21 in eastern Cambodia, along with his comrades who first went into Việt Nam, at 2am in the morning, and only got his first meal in Lộc Ninh on the evening of June 21, which he described as a life-saving meal.
Hun Sen said that without Việt Nam’s help, he couldn’t imagine how his life or the future of Cambodia would turn out. Together with Vietnamese volunteer soldiers, the force completely defeated the genocidal regime on January 7, 1979, bringing back peace to the nation and the people.
Over the past 45 years, the relationship between the two countries has been growing consistently, he noted.
“I want to convey my gratitude to the Vietnamese people who are present here, who are not present today, and to the souls of those who have sacrificed to save me and help the Cambodian people. We have come to know each other and help each other when it was difficult, that’s what true friends are,” Cambodian PM Hun Sen said at the meeting.
As part of the commemoration, PM Hun Sen welcomed PM Chính along with Việt Nam’s high-level delegation to Cambodia to attend further activities.
Speaking at the anniversary in Tbong Khmum, also attended by thousands of Cambodians, PM Chính stressed that June 20, 1977, is an important milestone in PM Hun Sen’s journey to defeat Pol Pot and bring peace and revival to his homeland.
The event is even more important as the two countries are celebrating the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations (June 24, 1967 – June 24, 2022).
Decrying the abhorrent genocidal crimes that the Cambodian people suffered as well as the brutal aggression against Vietnamese people caused by the Pol Pot regime, PM Chính said Việt Nam had shared with Cambodia all it could to help build up Cambodian revolutionary forces in the fight against Pol Pot.
Responding to the call of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation, after exercising the right to self-defence and put an end to Pol Pot’s aggressions at the southwestern border of Việt Nam, Việt Nam helped Cambodia’s revolutionary armed forces liberate the nation from genocide, and then restore and rebuild the country, PM Chính said.
In 1989, according to the agreement between the two States, Việt Nam withdrew all its volunteer troops “with pride and glory” after fulfilling all their international missions, amidst the affection of the Cambodian people, the Vietnamese Government leader said.
PM Chính also took the occasion to remember the great sacrifices of the two countries’ people in the noble fight, especially those volunteer soldiers from Việt Nam who accompanied Cambodian comrades to defeat the Pol Pot regime, consolidating the traditional friendship and solidarity between Việt Nam and Cambodia.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked his Vietnamese counterpart and the high-ranking Vietnamese delegation for joining the celebrations.
He said Vietnamese PM Chính’s speech has “clearly and transparently” summed up his journey to overthrow the genocidal regime of Pol Pot and revive the country, as well as the historic relations between the two countries.
He again stressed that he only had four options at the time. The first was to use the forces under his command to start an armed revolution but he knew it would have been overwhelmed quickly, the second was to seek help from Việt Nam, the third was to sit by watching Pol Pot perpetuating his crimes, and the fourth was to commit suicide.
He said going to Việt Nam to ask for support for his cause was an inevitable decision, given the domestic and international situation at the time.
Hun Sen stressed Việt Nam’s actions were totally justified and thanked the Vietnamese voluntary troops for accompanying Cambodian forces in national salvation efforts.
PM Hun Sen also expressed his pride in the many contributions he has made to the 45-year relationship between Việt Nam and Cambodia; including the step-by-step completion of border demarcation and marking, turning border areas ravaged by wars into areas of peace, stability and comprehensive cooperation.
The two Prime Ministers expressed their pleasure that along with the strong and unceasing growth of the two countries, the traditional solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Việt Nam and Cambodia continue to be consolidated and elevated in many fields, bringing practical benefits to the people of the two countries, making an important contribution to peace, stability and development in the region and in the world.