Cambodia celebrates fall of Khmer Rouge on Victory Day

Phnom Penh, Jan 7 (IANS) Supporters of Cambodia’s ruling party gathered on Saturday to celebrate the country’s Victory Day, marking the 38th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Prime Minister Hun Sen led celebrations at the headquarters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which were joined by thousands of supporters, government officials and diplomats, Efe news reported.

The annual Victory Over Genocide Day marks the anniversary of the fall of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people during its rule from April 1975 to January 1979.

The event on Saturday included a blessing ceremony performed by Buddhist monks, traditional dance performances and a speech from the prime minister in which he recalled the challenges with rebuilding the country after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

Following the event, Hun Sen continued to discuss the importance of the day on his Facebook page.

January 7 “is the second life of all Cambodian people in Cambodia, living again from the Khmer Rouge regime… (It) gave life and freedom to the people”, he wrote in his native Khmer language.

However, while the CPP holds large-scale events each year to mark the national holiday, others are less keen to celebrate the day that Vietnamese forces and members of Hun Sen’s government toppled the regime.

Taking to his own Facebook page, Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, described the day as a “military and political show organised by the communist Vietnamese”, whom he accused of helping the Khmer Rouge take power in 1975.

“They say they came to liberate us from the Khmer Rouge. But if there were no communist Vietnamese in the first place there would be no Khmer Rouge either,” he argued.