This Week In Cambodian History: April 23-29

On April 23, 1959, American William Cattell Trimble presented his credentials to become Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He stayed in the role until June 8, 1962.

On April 23, 1941, King Sisowath Monivong died at Bokor- where he retreated after the Vichy French government began allowing Imperial Japanese to take more control of Indochina.

On April 23, 1975, Pol Pot arrived in deserted Phnom Penh.

On 23 April 23, 2011, fighting between Thai and Cambodian troops in Preah Vihear continued, with mostly long-distance shelling which began about 06:00 and halted by noon. A Cambodian defence ministry statement accused Thai aircraft of entering Cambodian airspace. The statement also said Thai forces had fired 75- and 105-mm shells loaded with poisonous gas into Cambodia’s territory, an allegation that could not be independently verified and that Thailand rejected.

A Cambodian field commander claimed that the “poison smoke” caused several soldiers who inhaled it to lose strength in their arms and legs. Col. Suos Sothea, deputy commander of the artillery unit, said that six rounds of cluster shells had landed in villages about 20 km inside Cambodia, but caused no casualties since residents had already been evacuated.

Col. Tawatchai Samutsakorn, commander of Thailand’s 2nd Army Region, denied absolutely that cluster bombs or poison gas had been employed. Tawatchai said one Thai soldier died, bringing the two-day casualty toll to four dead and 17 wounded, and that 15,000 civilians had been evacuated from the area of fighting. Cambodia’s Suos Sothea said three soldiers from his country had been killed, bringing Cambodia’s two-day death toll to six.

According to vice-president of the Cambodian National Committee for Disaster Management, Mr Nhim Vanda, roughly 5,000 residents had been evacuated to a safe shelter in the Samrong district of Banteay Meanchey Province, some 30 kilometres from the fighting zone.

A Cambodian soldier stands guard near the Cambodia-Thailand border in Oddar Meanchey province on April 26, 2011, amid tension following deadly exchanges of fire across the border. Cambodia accused Thailand on April 25, of damaging ancient jungle temples at the center of their bloodiest fighting since a bitter border dispute flared up almost three years earlier.

On April 24, 1904, King Norodom (reigned 1860-1904) died. Born Ang Voddey in 1834, he was raised in an era of Cambodia being dominated by Siam and Vietnamese lords. In 1863, he signed a treaty with France by which he gave France control over Cambodia’s foreign relations in exchange for protection from the powerful neighbors. He reigned for 43 years and 188 days and was succeeded by his half-brother Sisowath.

On April 24, 1941, the Cambodian Crown Council appointed the late Monivong’s grandson Prince Norodom Sihanouk as the next king. The new king, aged just 19, was chosen over Monivong’s son Sisowath Monireth, who was heir to the throne. The decision, heavily influenced by the French authorities, chose Sihanouk, who was the son of Monivong’s daughter Sisowath Kosamak, in the belief that he would be more pliable than Monireth.

On April 24, 1956, the U.S. government suspended military assistance to Cambodia in protest of economic aid given by China.

On April 24, 1958, Sim Var formed a government as prime minister. He was replaced by Sihanouk (again) on July 10.

On April 24,1970, the second Indochinese People Conference (IPC) sealed the alliance between the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian struggles to obtain the “unconditional, total and immediate retreat” of the “US aggressor”. In Cambodia, the goal was to remove “the sanguinary traitors” guilty of “atrocious crimes,” and “accomplices of the US”.

On April 24, 1972, Lon Nol announced the suspension of the National Assembly and the formation of a high council that would rule by decree for a period of six months.

On April 25, 1970, the US formally became involved in the military situation in Cambodia, starting with the systematic bombing of the Northeast Cambodia. On 26 April the first US operation using helicopters took place (others say the date was 28 April).

On April 25, 1975, Prince Sihanouk was named as head-of-state of the new ‘Khmer Rouge’ regime, and Penn Nouth (a non-communist) formed a government as prime minister- his 7th time in office.

On April 26, 1975, French diplomats expressed further concern about the shortage of food, water and medical supplies In the embassy compound housing diplomats and other foreigners, including five American newsmen Phnom Penh.

The diplomats had earlier disclosed that two French military planes had been waiting in Vientiane Laos, for permission to fly food and supplies to the nearly 600 people still living in the French compound.

French officials indicated that their Government had been given permission by the Khmer Rouge mission in Paris but not by officials in Phnom Penh. They said that the relief planes; would not head for Phnom Penh until there was a firm guarantee that they would be allowed to land.

On 26 April 2012, environmental activist Chut Wutty was shot dead at Veal Bei Point in Mondol Seima. At the time, he was escorting two female journalists from The Cambodia Daily near a protected forest in Koh Kong Province, where he had repeatedly attempted to expose illegal logging rackets that include military officials. He was 40 years old.

On April 27, 1970, North Vietnam formally expressed its support of Prince Sihanouk against the Lon Nol regime.

On April 27, 1975, Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan said of the overthrow of the Lon Nol regime “the important winners are the people… they will have an independent, peaceful, neutral, sovereign, non-aligned Cambodia with territorial integrity”.

On April 28, 1950, Norodom Sihanouk took office as Prime Minister for the second time. His term lasted until May 30.

On April 28, 1970, President Richard Nixon ordered U.S. ground troops to invade Cambodia. He waited two days to announce on national television to the American public that the ‘Cambodian incursion’ had begun.

On 28 April 2011, Cambodia filed a request for interpretation of the 1962 judgment on Preah Vihear temple, as well as a request for the indication of provisional measures, in the Registry of the International Court of Justice.

On April 29, 1970, the government of South Vietnam decided to deploy troops in support of the Cambodian government. Some 43,000 South Vietnamese troops commanded by Lt. General Do Cao Tri and 31,000 US troops commanded by General Robert Shoemaker would enter the country to destroy North Vietnamese bases and supply lines. 

On April 29, 2019, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Cambodia on a 3 day state visit.

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