During the 1940s, several loosely aligned armed “Issarak” resistance groups made up of communist and non-communist forces were fighting a rebellion against French colonial rule in Cambodia.
One such group of around 200 people met in Kompong Som Loeu, Kampot province on April 17–April 19, 1950. Around 200 delegates assisted the conference, out of whom 105 were Buddhist monks. Ung Sao, a Viet Minh general assisted the conference. At the conference venue Khmer, Vietnamese and Laotian flags were displayed.
In 1951, an official Communist Party was formed in Cambodia in support of the Viet Minh communists.
On June 28, 1951, the leader of the communist Khmer Issarak movement formed the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party, with Son Ngoc Minh, known as Achar Mein, the secretary of the Central Committee Party, Sieu Heng, known as Achar Sok the member of the Party Central Committee for Military Affairs.
After the peace agreement at the Geneva Conference in July 1954, the Viet Minh Communist troops were withdrawn from Cambodia and French troops left Indochina, and the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party was divided into three groups:
The first group, including Son Ngoc Minh, Keo Mony, Mepho, Roth Samoeun and Pen Sovann, who had been living in northern Vietnam by the Viet Minh.
The second group includes: Tou Samouth (Pol Pot’s early patron), Siei Heng, Nuon Chea, So Phomm, etc., and was to continue the armed struggle in secret in Cambodia.
The third group formed a legitimate party to compete in the 1955 national elections against the Sangkum or People’s Socialist Movement of Prince Sihanouk. But the three groups continue to communicate regularly. Soon, others began returning to Cambodia from exile.
Sieu Heng was commander of communist Khmer Issaraks, who became a communist in 1945. He led the military resistance against the French in the 1950s but dropped out of politics afterward. After Son Ngoc Minh left for Hanoi in the mid-1950s, Heng was in charge of communist movements inside Cambodia.
Around the 1955 election, Heng became a secret agent to Sihanouk and later openly defected to the government, with providing information about revolutionaries to Lon Nol. At the same time, he claimed that “making revolution was impossible”. In 1975, Heng was killed by his wife’s nephew, Long Bunruot.
Long Bunruot, joined the Thai Communist Party in 1946, when he was a student at Thammasat University in Bangkok. After the independence in 1953, Long Bunruot remained revolutionary and continuously fought against the Sihanouk government as an Issarak leader. At the end of the civil war, he became the second vital figure of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), and better known as Nuon Chea.
Son Ngoc Minh
Achar Mean, a Khmer monk took his name later as Son Ngoc Minh, in order to link with the former Cambodian Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh and the Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh.
Son joined the ICP in 1945. He was the first Cambodian who joined the Vietnamese dominated organization. After commanding the Cambodian communist to fight the French in the First Indochina War, Son moved to northern Vietnam in 1955 and died in 1972.
In 1950, as a representative of the Cambodia communist, Son Ngoc Minh met Viet Minh’s representatives with Sieu Heng, Tou Samouth and others at Hatien, southern Vietnam, which near Cambodian border. He analysed the revolutionary situation in Cambodia and stated due to the weak “principle force”, Cambodia could hardly have a revolution.
Later, the “First National Congress of Khmer Resistance” was held in Cambodia, on the meeting, Khmer Issarak Association and People’s Liberation Central Committee (PLCC) was founded. Minh was the president of the PLCC, which consisted of all former ICP members. Two months later, as the Viet Minh guided-Issarak controlled one third of the Cambodian territory, Minh declared Cambodia’s independence, three years before Sihanouk’s government gained independence from France.
Achar Sok was an outstanding Buddhist scholar and active communist, who took a revolutionary name of Tou Samouth in 1948. At the time of his assassination, he was the secretary of the CPK’s central committee, interior minister of the Committee of Liberation of the Southeast. Years before his assassination in 1962, Tou Samouth was a patron of a young French educated Khmer, who work as Tou Samouth’s secretary. The young man was Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot after the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea.
Until the early 1960s, the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party had only about 800 party cadres and was mainly confined to Kampong Cham, directed by So Phim and Soul Socheat, and Takeo province, headed by Chhith Choeun (called Ta Mok).
Toum Muth, Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) and Nuon Chea continued to lead the Party activities in Phnom Penh with the help of Ieng Sary and Son Sen, an intellectual who had studied in France. (Part 2 HERE)
From Wikipedia and KBN