This Week In History October 14-21

From October 11-22, 1977, Pol Pot was in China, where he discussed military operations against Vietnam. The Khmer Rouge leader had recently announced himself as the leader of the ‘Angkar’ for the first time to the Cambodian public, despite his being in power for over two years.

He arrived in Beijing on September 28, before spending a week in North Korea. He returned to China on October 11, and discussed Cambodia’s recent attacks on Vietnam with Chinese premier Hua Guofeng, who was Mao’s hand-picked successor, as well as soon-to-be leader Deng Xiapeng. The Chinese leaders agreed to increased military aid, training, and other assistance for Cambodia during the meetings. He returned to Democratic Kampuchea on October 22.

 Pol Pot in Beijing on 22 October 1977- Thought to be the last photo of Pol Pot while he was in power before he retreated into jungle more than two years later. Deng Xiaoping is on the left and Hua Guofeng in the foreground. Between Hua and Pol Pot, is Ieng Sary, Minister foreign affairs and Pol Pot’s brother-in-law. 

On October 15, 2008, Cambodian and Thai forces opened fire on each other once again in the border area of Preah Vihear. Three Cambodian soldiers were killed and two wounded. Seven Thai soldiers were wounded, one of whom died of his injuries a week later. The Cambodians claimed to have captured 10 Thai soldiers during the battle, but the Thais denied this. Still, Reuters published photos of the soldiers being held by Cambodian troops, and were reportedly treated fairly as PoW’s.

Although commanders from both sides were trying to negotiate a ceasefire, Thailand urged Thai nationals to leave Cambodia.

Captured Thai forces, October 15, 2008- REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Captured Thai weapons, October 15, 2008- REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

On October 15, 2012, Norodom Sihanouk died in Beijing. The twice Cambodian King and a Prime Minister on ten separate occasions,  Norodom Sihanouk died at the age of 89, in Beijing, after suffering health issues for many years. He had been receiving medical treatment in Beijing since January 2012 for a number of health problems, including colon cancer, diabetes, and hypertension.

He died after a heart attack in Beijing on 15 October 2012, 1:20 a.m. Cambodian time, aged 89. His death was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nhek Bun Chhay.

On 16 October, 1971, Prime Minister Lon Nol of Cambodia suspended the Cambodian National Assembly and announced that he would run the country by executive decree. Lon Nol said that “the sterile game of democracy” was hindering the Cambodian government’s fight against the communist forces of the Khmer Rouge and North Vietnamese.

On 17 October 2012, the King Father’s body was brought back from Beijing on an Air China flight by King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen S. State flags were lowered, and the government announced a 7-day mourning period for the former king.

As many as 1.2 million people lined the streets from the airport to the royal palace to witness the return of Sihanouk’s cortège

On October 18, 1970, Prime Minister Lon Nol formed his first government under the Khmer Republic.

On October 19, 2019, current US Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy presented his credentials to King Sihamoni. The position had been vacant since 8 November, 2018, when William A. “Bill” Heidt ended his role as US Ambassador.

Norodom Sihanouk funeral procession October 17

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