ECCC's judgment on the Khmer Rouge genocide: A historic judgment

Tuesday - 01/01/2019 22:50
On November 16th, 2018, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) announced its judgment: the Khmer Rouge committed genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. At the talk-show "Historic day" on January 1st, 2019 at USSH, the analysts remarked it was a historic judgment for the people of Cambodia and humanity as a whole. It also helped justify the Vietnamese war to protect its Southwest border in 1979 and the great role of the Vietnamese volunteer forces in helping the people of Cambodia dethrone the Khmer Rouge regime and rise from their ashes.

A dialogue on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Southwest border war and the liberation of Cambodia from genocide (January 7th, 1979-2019) was held by Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City Television, the Bureau of Propaganda and Training - General Political Department of the People's Army of Vietnam, and the School of Journalism and Communication, USSH.

Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh (Member of the Vietnam's Party Central Committee) and Prof.Dr Pham Quang Minh (USSH's Rector) at the talk

The Khmer Rouge regime only lasted from 1975-1979 but caused brutal genocide to millions of Cambodians (accounting for 1/4 of Cambodia's population at that time) and slaughtered the Vietnamese in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge declared war with the Vietnamese by sending its troops to invade Phu Quoc Island on May 3rd, 1975 and Tho Chu Island on May 10th, 1975, encroaching territories across the border area from Ha Tien to Tay Ninh, and causing inhuman crimes against the Vietnamese. At the end of 1978, it launched a large-scale agression into Vietnam and forced the Vietnamese to stand up to protect their motherland. The Vietnamese volunteer forces helped the Cambodian overthrow the Pol Pot regime and liberated Phnom Penh on January 7th, 1979 and then supported the Cambodian revolutionary government in reconstructing Cambodia.

At the dialogue, Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh said the recent ECCC's ruling on November 16th validated the rightfulness of the Vietnamese's fight against the Khmer Rouge, not only to protect Vietnam but also to fulfill the international obligation of liberating the Cambodian from genocide. After 40 years, responding to the question of whether the Vietnamese could have avoided this war, the answer is still no! Because it would have been suicidal and detrimental to the people of Cambodia to stand idle before the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. After 40 years, the ECCC's ruling proves justice comes sooner or later.

At that time, Vietnam faced many difficulties after its unification in 1975 and was surrounded and isolated diplomatically. But as the Cambodian society was severely scattered, its economy crumbled, and its government young, during 10 years, the Vietnamese volunteer forces stationed in most of the localities in Cambodia, gradually helped the Cambodian stabilize their lives and the Cambodia forces reverse the havoc wreaked by remaining Khmer Rouge troops. The Cambodian was thankful and called these volunteer forces "a Buddhist army". Former Cambodian King Sihanouk used to say had it not been for the Vietnamese volunteer forces the Cambodian would have all died. The Cambodian People's Party was not mistaken to ask for their support in fighting against the Khmer Rouge.

The TV crew takes a ceremonial photo with the guests

On the historical lesson of developing friendly relations between Vietnam and Cambodia, Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh emphasized the most important thing is Vietnam had independence and self-governance, which helped promote mutual development based on respect for the other's self-governance and interests. Assisted by Vietnam with respect for independence and self-governance, Cambodia was able to rise up from difficulties on its own.

Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh meets with USSH's leaders before the show

Prof.Dr Pham Quang Minh commented: Vietnam courageously stood up to launch a just fight against the Khmer Rouge in the context of dreadful silence among the big countries due to their political considerations. After 40 years, Vietnam has shown its strong will and peseverance. Its actions also revealed an important lesson, which is zero tolerance for crimes. Vietnam also helped enrich the field of international relations by providing a theory of international responsibility and obligation to protecting humankind and preventing genocide, which has been recognized internationally. The world celebrates a Holocaust day annually to remind us of the crimes done by Nazi Germany to the Jews; therefore the crimes by Khmer Rouge have to be recognized with an official day to not only help the world gain a better understanding of a dark period but also prevent another tragedy from happening. In addition, the Vietnamese obtained a profound lesson on resolutely using public diplomacy and external communication to fulfill the mission of protecting their Motherland. 

Further improving the traditional solidarity, friendly relations and comprehensive cooperation for the sake of the Vietnamese and Cambodian, for regional and worldwide peace and development is a common vision and resolution of both peoples now and in the future. In this common strategy history and its teaching to younger generations play an important role. Sharing this view, Prof. Vu Duong Ninh said history consists of lessons drawn from both the successes and failures of previous generations. But it must be taught genuinely despite there being dark and confusing aspects. More importantly, the historical lessons have to be used to remind us of the pursuit of humanistic values for our own sake, and for the prosperity, friendly relations, equality and love among nations around the world.

Author: Thanh Ha

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