This Week In Cambodian History: August 6-12

On August 6, 1962, Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum formed a government as prime minister after parliamentary elections were held on June 10, 1962- the PSC won 77 out of 77 seats in the National Assembly. 

On August 6, 1973, at before 5 a.m., a crewman neglected to flip off a switch tying his B-52’s bomb release point to a homing beacon set up in the center of over Neak Luong, the Route 1 ferry town on the Mekong between Phnom Penh and Vietnam. A mile-long string of bombs ‘delivered’ 30 tons of high explosives, hitting the hospital and marketplace, and killing 137 and wounding 268.

Photo: Sydney Schanberg

On August 6, 1973 before the US bombing cutoff date, communist forces on the southern front were reported to be beginning to break contact with FANK forces and pull back, and they virtually completed that operation within a week.

On August 6, 1990, with worries of a resurgent Khmer Rogue, Steven Erlanger reported from Phnom Penh in the New York Times, “No credible analyst or official here sees any imminent political or military collapse.”

On August 6, 1997, Foreign Minister Ung Huot was brought in as co-Prime Minister to replace the ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh. The move was seen as an attempt to calm the situation after bloody fighting between CPP and FUNCINPEC in July.

On August 7, 1946, seven French soldiers were killed in violence in Siem Reap province. 

On August 7, 1979, United Nations and Red Cross officials predicted that a further two million Cambodians will die from starvation, due to the ravages of the Khmer Rouge regime.

On August 7, 1954, a Swiss facilitated ceasefire between Cambodian militia and remaining French troops went into effect. Negotiations between French and Cambodian representatives had been held in Geneva from April 26 to July 21, 1954. The parties agreed to a ceasefire on July 21, 1954. which began on August 7. France would formally hand over all control of financial and budgetary affairs to an independent Cambodia on on December 29, 1954, although military and some domestic affairs had been given over in November 1953.

August 7-10, 1991, High-level talks between China and Vietnam were arranged by General Le Due Anh (former commander of military operations in Cambodia in the 1980s), who had been named second in command of the Vietnamese Politburo at the June congress, with responsibility for military, security, and foreign affairs matters. Deputy foreign ministers of the two countries met in Beijing and agreed on “quickly restoring their relations in economy, trade, communications, postal services and other fields”.

On 7 August 2014, Cambodia’s UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal sentenced two former Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea, also known as “Brother Number Two”, and Khieu Samphan, former head of State, to life in prison after being convicted on charges of crimes against humanity.

On August 8, 1945, an advance guard of British and Indian colonial troops flew into Pochentong airport and disarm Japanese forces as the vanguard of Operation Masterdom- which would see a 6 month British occupation of much of Indochina.

On 8 August 1967, ASEAN was established in Bangkok as a bulwark to Communism.  Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, signed the ASEAN Declaration.

On August 8, 1996, former Khmer Rouge foreign minister Ieng Sary defected to the Cambodian government, bringing thousands of followers with him. Despite promises of immunity, he was put was arrested in 2007 and indicted of war crimes in 2009. He died on 14 March 2013 at the age of 87, before the case against him could be brought to a verdict.

On 8 August 2008, Comrade Duch was indicted by the Co-Investigating Judges at the ECCC.

On August 8, 2019, W. Patrick Murphy was appointed as Ambassador to Cambodia . A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, he led the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2018-2019 as Senior Bureau Official (Acting Assistant Secretary of State). He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia from 2016-2018.

On August 9, 1979, the Carter Administration said today that it was deeply concerned over mounting signs of famine in Cambodia and declared it would participate in international efforts to help all Cambodians in need. regardless of their political affiliations.

In a statement, the State Department appealed to the competing groups in Cambodia to cooperate to the fullest with international relief efforts.

Under American law, the Government could not supply direct assistance to either the Vietnam‐backed Government in control of Phnom Penh or the forces of Pol Pot, fighting a guerrilla war. But it could supply food and medicine for use by international groups in aiding Cambodians either inside their country or in refugee camps in Thailand.

On August 9, 1927, the reign of King Sisowath Monivong began. He was coronated on July 20, 1928.

On 9 August, 1951, control of the National Museum and Arts Administration was ceded by the French to the Cambodians.

August, 10, 1946, the Conservation d’Angkor building burned down.

On August 10-11, 1971, Acting Prime Minister Sirik Matak visited Washington for talks.

On 10 August 1992, the Cambodian Land Law was approved by the National Assembly of the State of Cambodia during the 23rd session of its first legislature. It was promulgated by Decree No. 100 on 13 October 1992.

Article 1:

All the land in Cambodia belongs to the State and shall be governed and protected in agreement by the State. The State does not recognize the land property right existing before 1979. The property right and any other rights related to the land shall be governed by this law.

On August 10, 2001, King Sihanouk promulgated a law creating a UN-backed tribunal to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

On August 10, 2016, Pokemon Go was banned from Toul Sleng museum, after ‘smartphone-wielding players have been chasing its virtual characters’

On 11 August 1863, King Norodom signed a treaty acknowledging a French protectorate over his kingdom. Under the treaty, the Cambodian monarchy was allowed to remain, but power was largely vested in a resident general to be housed in Phnom Penh. 

On August 11, 1954, the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC-Cambodia) was established to monitor the ceasefire agreement and to supervise the disengagement of French and Cambodian military forces. ICSC-Cambodia consisted of some 500 personnel from Canada, India, and Poland. France formally agreed to recognize Cambodia’s independence on December 29, 1954. ICSC-Cambodia was withdrawn on December 31, 1969.

On August 11 (or August 13-sources vary),1966, a Sam Jaffe interview with Norodom Sihanouk aired on “ABC Scope”.

On August 11, 1997, King Sihanouk offered to abdicate in protest over the political violence that led to his son, Prime Minister Ranariddh being deposed in July. The king was in Beijing for cancer treatment.

Responding to his father’s offer of abdication, the exiled Ranariddh said he considered it an expression of disapproval of Hun Sen.

“It is clear that it must be that the king, as father of the Cambodian people, cannot be happy with the coup d’etat, with the very serious setback for human rights and serious violation of human rights and with the political situation and political instability,” he told a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand…. We are stepping into an era of great instability if not a civil war,” he added.

On August 11, 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in the Great Hall of the People. The host and the guest held cordial and friendly talks.

On August 12, 1947, Thailand abandoned its claim to territory in Indochina, including the Northwest Cambodian provinces annexed in World War II.

On August 12, 1987, in an interview published in the Italian Communist Party daily L’Unita , Hun Sen sought to exonerate the Soviet Union from blame for Cambodia’s plight and instead blamed China for the country’s difficulties. Referring to the proposed meeting with Sihanouk (abruptly cancelled by the prince in July), Hun Sen insinuated that Sihanouk had “bosses” who would not let him engage freely in a dialogue.

On August 12, 1997, Hun Sen, still with formal title of second prime minister, arrived in Beijing accompanied by newly appointed First Prime Minister Ung Huot, acting head of state Chea Sim and a delegation of government officials for a private meeting with King Sihanouk. Sihanouk said he was ready to give up the throne as soon as he was confident that the Hun Sen would not criticize him for doing so. However, a short time later, the king also indicated he might not abdicate, instead returning to Cambodia as king to enter a Buddhist monastery.

On 12 August 2020, for the first time in the history of the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) mechanism, the decision to partially withdraw trade preferences to one of its key beneficiaries, Cambodia, came into effect.

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