This Week In Cambodian History: June 18-24

On June 18,1936,  Paule Monique Izzi was born in Saigon. Her father, Jean-François Izzi, was a French banker of Corsican, French and Italian descent, who was Director of Crédit Foncier in Saigon, and killed in World War II. Her mother, Pomme Peang, was from Phnom Penh. In 1955, taking the name Monineath, she married King Sihanouk, becoming his ‘second consort’. After Sihanouk and his fifth with Thavet Norleak divorced in 1968, Monineath became the official spouse of the King. As the mother of the king, she has the official title Samdech Preah Mahaksatrey Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. June 18 is a public holiday.

On June 18, 1997, Khmer Rouge radio confirmed that forces loyal to Ta Mok had captured Pol Pot and were holding the former leader prisoner close to the Thai border.

On June 19, 1950, Issarak rebel leader Son Ngoc Minh proclaimed the independence of Cambodia while in exile. He had briefly been Prime Minister at the end of World War II, arrested and then released by the French. He again became Prime Minister for a short spell in 1972, during the Khmer Republic.

On June 20, 1953, King Norodom Sihanouk returned from his brief self-imposed exile in Thailand- where he had been since June 14.

On June 20, 2008, Preah Vihear tensions: the Nation newspaper in Bangkok published an editorial online highly critical of the People’s Alliance for Democracy for its use of Preah Vihear temple in its campaign against the People Power Party government of Prime Minister Samak Sudaravej.

On June 20, 1977, according to his official biography- Hun Sen- then a local Khmer Rouge commander- crossed over the border into Vietnam near Koh Thmar to escape the purges of cadres taking place in the Eastern Zone.

On June 21, 1975, Comrade Duch- later to be the head of the S-21 prison- arrived in Phnom Penh.

On June 21, 1975, Mao sent a message to the new Democratic Kampuchea government:

[Mao Zedong:] During the transition from the democratic revolution to adopting a socialist path, there exist two possibilities: one is socialism, the other is capitalism.  Our situation now is like this.  Fifty years from now, or one hundred years from now, the struggle between two lines will exist.  Even ten thousand years from now, the struggle between two lines will still exist.  When Communism is realized, the struggle between two lines will still be there.  Otherwise, you are not a Marxist.  This is unity existing among opposites.  If one only mentions one side of the two, that is metaphysics.  I believe in what Marx and Lenin have said, that the path [of advance] would be tortuous.  From the era of Lenin to the era of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, the Soviet Union has changed.  But in the future it is certain that it will return to Lenin’s path.  China is also like this.  It may turn to revisionism in the future, but it will eventually return to the path of Marx and Lenin.  Our state now is, as Lenin said, a capitalist state without capitalists.  This states protects capitalist rights, and the wages are not equal.  Under the slogan of equality, a system of inequality has been introduced.  There will exist a struggle between two lines, the struggle between the advanced and the backward, even when Communism is realized.  Today we cannot explain it completely.….

You should not completely copy China’s experience, and should think for yourself.  According to Marx, his theory is a guideline for action, but not a doctrine.

On June 21, 1997, the Cambodian government requested the UN to assist in establishing a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for crimes committed during the DK period.

On June 22, 1962, US Ambassador Frederick Nolting in Saigon wrote that the South Vietnamese denied supporting any “training of certain cadres from SVN in Taiwan for subversive political activity in Cambodia, and the sending, or facilitating the visit of, Son Ngoc Thanh to Taipei to take part in or to direct, such plotting. I was greatly disturbed by this, particularly in view of the President’s (Diem) recent assurances to me, and I asked him to look into the matter to verify that there is no action on part any branch GVN along these lines.

Diem responded immediately and without any hesitation that he had, after our last talk, checked into the matter thoroughly and was assured that nothing was going on along the lines I described. He said he could not guarantee what the Thais might be doing nor the Chinese, but that so far as GVN was concerned his original assurances to me stand. He did not press for source of my information, nor did I volunteer it.

Having given the above reassurance, Diem then launched, as is his wont, into lambasting RKG  (Cambodian government) for constant provocation against GVN, the latest being the raid of members Cambodian armed forces into Viet Nam and the stealing of 100 or so cattle. At the close, he said again he realized this sort of thing, while extremely annoying, would not justify any such foolish move in present tense conditions as an attempt from outside to unseat Sihanouk.

On June 22, 1982, Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan was replaced as Prime Minister of the exiled Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea and was replaced by Son Sann. After much of the non-communist factions of the coalition integrated with the Kingdom of Cambodia following the Paris Peace Conference, Khieu Samphan returned to head the breakaway “National Government of Cambodia”.

On June 22, 1998,  Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan stepped down as the last Prime Minister of the “National Government of Cambodia” (formally the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea).

On June 22, 2001, five defendants, including Cambodian-Americans Richard Kiri Kim and Chhun Yasith — the latter convicted in absentia — received life sentences for their involvement in an alleged abortive coup attempt by members of a US-based anti-Cambodian government organization called the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF). Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed out prison sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment for thirty suspects convicted in connection with street fighting in the Cambodian capital in November 2000.

An additional 22 suspects received prison sentences of between 13-20 years, while two defendants were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Richard Kiri Kim recently died of COVID-19 in prison.

On June 22, 2008, Cambodia closed the border crossing to Preah Vihear in response to Thai protests held at the border crossing. The protests were championed by an anti-Thaksin opposition figure, Sonthi Limthongkul, who claimed the government of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sudaravej had gained business concessions in Cambodia in return for ceding Thai territory to Cambodia when negotiating over the Preah Vihear site map that would be presented to UNESCO in Quebec, Canada.

On June 22, 2019, 28 people were killed when a building under construction in Sihanoukville collapsed.

On June 23, 1962, “The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that the MAP support of Cambodia to effect an increase of about 3184 people (to be deployed against Vietnamese forces in the Northeast) , at a cost of about $1.5 million, be approved and plans be made accordingly. However, in view of the tensions in present Cambodia–Thailand relations (over Preah Vihear), it is recommended that the implementation of expansion plans be held in abeyance until the relations between Cambodia and Thailand are improved.” The memo was passed to US Sec. of Defense Robert Strange McNamara the following day.

On June 24, 1952, Ambassador Donald R. Heath received confirmation of his appointment to Phnom Penh from the United States Senate. 

On June 24, 1967, diplomatic relations were established formally between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North VN) and Cambodia.

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