|(The Vietnamese Tanks rolled into Cambodia in 1979)|
However, the people in our village were so bewildered even if they had known that Pol Pot regime was overthrown by the Vietnamese, the local Khmer Rouge administrators still ruled our village and the nearby areas as usual. Every day people just went to work on their fields and ate lunch and dinner as normal. But, on January 13, we felt the reality of the regime changed when we saw a column of Vietnamese tanks and trucks slowly driven on highway 5 from Battambang toward Phnom Penh with their victory red flags on the top. Then they briefly stopped in our village searching for the Khmer Rouge troops and their locations, but no one knew where they were. After that the Vietnamese convoys continued their way to Phnom Penh precariously. Indeed, on their way to Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese elite troop columns were disrupted by land mines and severely beaten down by the regrouped Khmer Rouge special forces. Later we frequently saw the wreckage of the Vietnamese trucks and tanks along the highway 5 from Battambang to Phnom Penh.
|(A typical daily works in The Khmer Rouge Regime)|
Every day we saw the Mig-21 flying over our village to bomb the Khmer Rouge targets in different areas in Battambang. Unfortunately one day the Vietnamese jet had spotted a Khmer Rouge truck on highway 5 along with hundreds of people returning from work on rice fields; the jet made a u-turn as it had preyed a potential target. Meanwhile I was just playing in front of my home with friends then we heard a loud noise of jet in the sky above our home unleashed two big bombs, and they looked like coming straight down to our house then we quickly ran down for cover in a ditch in front of my home. suddenly, the two big explosions shook the ground killed and wounded hundreds of innocent people who had just returned from work. Two of my nephews were among those killed in the bombing. Since then every time we heard the sound of airplanes, we ran for cover. As the Vietnamese troop spearheads steadily pushed the Khmer Rouge troops back from the front line, they ordered to evacuate all people living under their control zones moving Southward along railway toward Phnom Tepadey. At the sunset, thousands of the people in the collective farm were forced to move toward Mount Tepadey to escape theVietnamese troop advance from Battambang. It's worse than 1975 evacuation when we had been evacuated from the city to villages; this time they evacuated us from villages to the jungle at night time without clear instruction. We stopped on the way and built temporary shelters to live for a few weeks then we were told to move forward again and again as the gun battles raged louder behind us.
When We got closer to Mount Tepadey, the Vietnamese vanguards tried cut us in front along the railway, so we had nowhere to go. At this time the Khmer Rouge safe haven ran out of space as the Vietnamese troops quickly captured Mount Tepadey, and the only safe places now are Tonle Sap Lake and Cardamorm Mountain in Pusat. The Khmer Rouge had a few options left; then they forced us to turn eastward, crossing highway 5 at Phum Kor Kash toward Tonle Sap Lake. At night time when we reached Tonle Sap lake Shore, what's next? luckily, at this time, all Khmer Rouge leaders and their military personnel fled for their own safety, leaving thousands of people leaderless in Tonle Sap Lake, a no man land. Now all the people had to make their own risky choices of death and life-- to follow the Khmer Rouge seems useless since they had totally abandoned us or to escape back to Battambang City might face risk of life if we were caught by the Khmer Rouge troops, we would be slaughtered mercilessly. Nevertheless, the majority of people made up their minds to escape to Battambang City through thick swam land forest along Tonle Sap Lake shores. Now a trail of tears started with hope and fear hung over our minds.
|(A similar evacuation and journey that we had experienced in 1979)|
After three exhausted day journey through the swam land forest, a glimpse of hope was in everyone's mind. About one kilometer away, we saw highway 5 in Phum Kampong Preash. At this time my family's oxcart was on the front line, but we apparently went on a wrong way. Fortunately, my family's oxcart was broken down then we stopped to fix it, and many other oxcarts quickly bypassed us. Alas, just about 100 meters away the first oxcart which had bypassed us rolled over an anti-tank mine made a very loud explosion killing four children on the cart and wounded the father while the mother survived while she was walking beside the cart. After this tragic incident, we returned to the other way where we proceeded toward highway 5 safely. First we had sense of hope and released when we saw a group of Khmer soldiers came to welcome us from a long dangerous and exhausted journey, but our hope mixed with dismay when we saw all Vietnamese soldiers everywhere stationing along highway 5 to Battambang City. We felt sad although we had just escaped from the killing field. My father, who used to joint Khmer Issarak fighting for Cambodian independence in 1953, told us that the war was not over yet since the foreign troops still occupied our country. Our family members briefly rejoined, but two of my brothers and a sister died in the Khmer Rouge Regime. In late 1979 two of my brothers and a sister fled to Thai-Cambodia border camp when they later resettled in the US in 1982. My parents, my other two sisters and I return to our old ruin village, Phum Kachrotest, to restart our new life then had been ravaged again by new war against the Vietnamese occupation until 1991 when the Paris Peace Accord was officially signed to end the protracted war.
January 7, 1979 has given us a mixed feeling of hope for surviving from the killing field and regretting for losing our country to the Vietnamese neo-colonization. Since January 7, 1979 until today we have never felt our country had a full independence. Because our country has still ruled by the regime installed by the Vietnamese tanks and guns since January 7, 1979. If Vietnam honestly liberates us from the killing field, it should let us choosing our own destination by allowing free and fair election in Cambodia guaranteed by the Paris Peace Accord in 1991. But instead Vietnam has manipulated and deeply meddled in Cambodian internal affair via its proxy power, the CPP which has ruled the country by intimidation, violence means, and election fraud. Cambodia will never ever taste a true democracy, social justice, and national independence if Hanoi has continued to hold its stake of power through its political, military, and economic networks throughout Cambodia. A case of Oknha Tuong Sarath and his parents, the Vietnamese tycoons who hold a high title and status in Cambodian government, is a chilling reminder that Hanoi has still operated its political and economic networks in Cambodia via its pervaded people. Thus, January 7, 1979 is the day that Cambodia has lost her independence in second times after we had gained from France in 1953. The only way that Khmer can regain true democracy and full independence from the current Vietnamese neo-colonization, all Khmer must set aside all our differences and unite in single political alliance in order to rescue our nation from a long dictatorial rule of the current Hanoi puppet regime.
Note: readers please share your personal experience at a moment of January 7, 1979 and your opinion about that day. Thanks,