FORTY YEARS OF THE DEMOCRATIC KAMPUCHEA VICTORY!
Foreword by Unión Obrera Comunista (mlm) when republished in Workers Revolution · December 2nd, 2015
The following is a public material prepared by a French intellectual with the backing of his circle comrades, already made known in the labour movement by other revolutionaries. However, it also arrived to our mail a few weeks ago, through a reader abroad. We want to make the material known on our own, because it is excellent. In it a defense is made to the just popular war of the people of Cambodia in Southeast Asia, which the Colombian people must know to enrich their conviction in the justness of the armed rebellion and the invincibility of the people’s war.
It begins by recalling that Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were three nationalities oppressed by imperialism, first French, then Japanese, then Yankee and then Soviet, to return to US domination. In these countries, under the guidance of the Third International, the Communist Party of Indochina was created, and then each party was constituted separately once the class struggle developed. While the Communist Party of Kampuchea maintained its consequent independence in the confrontation against imperialism (and this is the most important thing to emphasize in it), that of Vietnam gave way to Soviet social-imperialism.
Questioning who led the people’s war of liberation in Cambodia, is aimed at muddying communism and hiding the crime of these birds of prey against a people that was literally devastated by the fact to rebel against the barbaric western domination led by France and the USA. The bombing received by Cambodia at the hands of the greatest genocide that humanity has had, was much higher than that suffered by Japan in World War II, this being a society – unlike the Japanese – rural, backward and that depended exclusively on cultivation of rice. Imperialism burned entire countries like Cambodia for the sake of democracy, and today its purpose is demonstrated: implement the most atrocious wage slavery that has endured anywhere else on the planet.
The popular war of the people of Cambodia against their centuries-old enemies was justified, even though the chains of salaried exploitation today make them even more submissive, because they taught the working class and the peasants of the world how to confront the bloodthirsty imperialists, as well as made clear the traitorous role of revisionism. Other peoples have drunk from this experience and the Colombian must also do so in order to be able to triumph in their fight against the centenarians who oppress and exploit them.
What Vietnamese revisionism did in Cambodia is similar to what was done by the armed revisionism of the FARC in Colombia: to help a faction of imperialism to win the booty of oppression and exploitation. The FARC guaranteed by blood and fire – killing many other revolutionaries and fighters – the domination of strategic zones for the interests of capitalist profit. Today, their leaders share the revenue of this war that cost thousands of deaths and millions of victims. Revisionism is a traitor detachment of the workers movement, subservient to the interests of capital and anti-revolutionary, both in Colombia and in Cambodia.
Federico Lenzi | Introduction | París October 2015
On April 17, 2015, 40 years of the struggle of the Cambodian people for their freedom, independence and socialism were celebrated. It was on this occasion that Abel Kelen, comrade of our MLSM Debate Center, wrote this document, which summarizes in a dialectical materialist character, the recent history, of the events of the struggle of the Cambodian people and its glorious revolution led by the PCK (Party Communist of Kampuchea).
This document that reminds us, like Cambodia and later Democratic Kampuchea, was bombarded by the Yankee imperialists and allies, and the Vietnamese traitors and their Soviet social-imperialist allies to the point that in 1972 Henry Kissinger threatened (and then fulfilled) that strategic aircraft of USA would destroy Kampuchea in 72 hours.
Imperialist propaganda, after the destruction of Democratic Kampuchea, needed to imagine a scenario, destruction and death that was awarded to the Khmer Rouge, for all those deaths and destructions that they themselves committed, in their race for the domination of other towns.
This document, which puts us squarely in recent history, as well as in the lies about the Red Khmer spread by all the imperialist media, is enlightening, of the struggle of the Cambodian people, and reminds us of the only path of socialist revolution that which bequeathed to us Marx, Engels, Lenin Stalin and Mao, which is the way to spread, and to practice for all the revolutionary peoples.
Abel Kelen | FORTY YEARS OF THE DEMOCRATIC KAMPUCHEA VICTORY! | April 17, 2015
Unité des cercles communistes
The imperialist historiography has always dirtied the memory of the past revolutions that broke their domination for a time. There are innumerable intellectuals of all kinds, feather-bearers of imperialism, “specialists” in the USSR of Lenin and Stalin, in the People’s Republic of China in Mao’s time, all of whom are responsible for the peoples’ endorsement of the fears and fears of the bourgeoisie; His task is therefore to describe to what extent the revolution is something disgusting; how the revolutionary leaders were monsters thirsting for blood and chaos and-oh, how much-Communism is an abomination.
Among those slandered revolutions, that of Cambodia occupies a particular place. In this case, we are facing a powerful and permanent campaign of historical falsification. It is possibly the only revolution before which even pretended “communists” who reject reformism and advocate the need for armed revolution give in to such ludicrous propaganda and share the indignation of the bourgeoisie, covering up their lies. This revolution has certainly led to many regrets. And even the most zealous (verbal) defenders of the anti-imperialist struggle become timid when the bourgeoisie waves the “Khmer Rouge” wild card, before which all are ordered to kneel and apologize for having supported and for having “believed »In that revolution, etc. In the face of a true revolution, even history becomes a taboo subject for all the propagandists of imperialism. Evoke the causes of the struggle of the Cambodian people, the class struggle in Cambodian society, the world political context of the time and the fact that the US government has given Cambodia the sad record of being the most bombed country in history, everyone does not care! Write, cry, sing, recite the words “genocide” and “dictatorship”, it is all that the bourgeoisie will allow you to do in relation to this question. Beyond the dominant thought, they will accuse you of doing revisionism! Some have learned the lesson well. All you have to do is remind Alain Badiou to excuse himself, during a television program, for writing “Kampuchea will win!” At the time when Vietnam invaded the country. Such an attitude of renunciation is to extend a red carpet to imperialism, which tries to reduce the history of the revolution in Cambodia to the work of four madmen from nowhere who imposed a blind terror on their people. Is there anything more practical than this idealistic scheme to disguise the barbaric crimes of the imperialists and deny the class struggle that took place in that country, as well as the heroic national liberation struggle led by the FUNK? But as Nuon Chea has said during his process:
«… those evil, immoral beings will not be able to deceive and hide reality in the eyes of the people and the popular masses, they will not be able to hide the reality of the courageous struggle of the Cambodian people and the support obtained from the peoples of the world that they love peace and justice ».
Even the repentant Suong Sikoeun came to testify in Le Monde on August 8, 2014:
“I am convinced that Pol Pot’s Marxist analysis of the socio-economic situation of Cambodia, a poor and sparsely populated country, was correct. The remedies he had imagined were also, in my opinion, the right ones. The question was: where to find the means that could ensure the development of Cambodia? The answer was clear: it had to rely on the ricicultura, in a country in which the cultivation of rice is essential. This, which could provide agricultural surpluses, would then have allowed to provide the necessary means to lay the foundations of an industrialization. It was a good policy in itself ».
A policy that, however, imperialism – Cambodia’s worst enemy – will punish. Thus, despite the underdevelopment caused by several decades of French colonialism, domination and the war of extermination carried out by the US, and the subsequent Vietnamese aggression with the support of Soviet imperialism, Cambodia has not stopped fighting for real independence. And the only true independence he has known in the imperialist era was that of the very short stage of Democratic Kampuchea. This is a fact that bothers many.
Today, reactionary intellectuals strive to work for public opinion so that Pol Pot is compared to Hitler, and Democratic Kampuchea is compared to the Islamic State. With this, what they intend is to deny the fundamentally different character of the social classes that hide behind these realities and the class nature of the conflicts that underlie them. Never will the bourgeois media dare to compare Nazi barbarism with French colonialism or with the US aggression army, and this despite the fact that they are undoubtedly three great forces of aggression and enslavement of the peoples in universal history No one can deny what the German fascists have done during the Second World War, or what the French and British colonialists did for centuries in their colonies in Africa and Asia. Slavery, mass rapes, racist massacres, raids on entire populations to perform forced labour and to participate in wars, displacements of peoples, organized famines, ethnic segregation, etc. As for the US, they have not only been black slavers and have carried out the genocide of the Indians, but they have also been the authors of the two most criminal attacks on civilians in history in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and have made suffer a terrible war to, among others, the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and have destroyed Iraq, having submerged this country in a chaos that has not been able to leave for more than 10 years. Who is, therefore, the one who reviews the story?
Who is the main promoter of wars and genocides? Who is the guarantor of the survival of obscurantism? The world imperialist system, and only him! Comparing the armed movement led by the Communist Party of Kampuchea with the Nazis is tantamount to putting on the same level the resistance forces and the aggressor that they fight and betray their struggle for their freedom. It is the same dishonest way of proceeding that is used today to put the Palestinian armed resistance and the Zionist occupation forces on the same level.
For that very reason, defending the heroic struggle of the people of Cambodia against imperialism and its lackeys is a matter of principle. As for any legitimate criticism of the mistakes of the Cambodian comrades – a criticism that should be made against the working class and the poor peasants of Cambodia – this should not lead us to forget the necessary recommendation of Mao Tse Tung on the importance of drawing the line of demarcation between the revolution and the counterrevolution. The “Khmer Rouge” were revolutionaries who fought for independence and socialism In front of all the bureaucrats of the bourgeoisie who will appropriate this date of April 17, 2015 to attack the revolution and Communism, we must continue to reaffirm them, and always reaffirm them.
This task is even more important for us, communists of France, because of the historical ties that exist between the peoples of France and Cambodia. In our country, the Jemeres Student Association (AEK) was born, which worked to find ways to get Cambodia out of the clutches of imperialism and our country also hosted the headquarters of the Committee of Patriots of Democratic Kampuchea abroad and welcomed the various Cambodian comrades who were then active in the ranks of the French Communist Party. Proletarian internationalism is due to our Cambodian comrades, we do not forget them! The crimes committed against a brotherly people, we do not forgive them! From support for the revolutionary experience of Democratic Kampuchea, we do not regret it!
A HEROIC PEOPLE, A GREAT REVOLUTION
There is something that should not be forgotten. The entire historical period from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 70s was marked by the struggles of national liberation in the colonies and semi-colonies dominated by imperialism. From the victory of the insurrection that proclaimed the independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 to that of the people’s war under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, and of the Cuban revolution in 1959 to the revolutionary wars for the independence of the peoples of Cameroon, Algeria, the two Congo, Palestine, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique, etc. The struggle of the Cambodian people is part of the numerous struggles that confront the oppressed peoples with imperialism.
Understanding the Cambodian revolution is impossible without understanding the time and context in which this revolution emerges. Since 1930, the year of the creation of the Indochinese Communist Party, which brought together the peoples of what was then called “French Indochina” (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos), they organize at first the revolutionary armed struggle against French colonialism, then against the Japanese fascists when they take the place of France during the Nazi occupation, and later against the American imperialism that wanted to succeed the French colonialists in this vast territory of Southeast Asia.
After the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and the evolution of the struggle of the three peoples of “French Indochina”, the Communist Party of Indochina, after verifying the particularities of the struggle in each country, makes the decision of dissolve in 1951 and leave thus each country that organizes the struggle autonomously. In 1953 the independence of Cambodia is recognized by France (Sihanouk had proclaimed it in 1945), although it was an independence of the kind that will be agreed upon by French colonialism in all its colonies in Africa, which meant the end of the direct administration of the country by France but instead continued the economic domination of French monopolies and the imposition, in fact, on Cambodia to follow a policy in accordance with the interests of those monopolies. In spite of everything, that exit of Cambodia of the French colonial empire is going to be taken advantage of by the American imperialists to obtain in the country a dominant position. Faced with this situation, the Communist Party of Kampuchea, founded on September 30, 1960, had to correctly determine the semi-colonial character of Cambodian society:
“Kampuchea at that time depended on imperialism, in particular on American imperialism … Has this analysis been possible without struggle? We had to fight within our ranks, we had to fight in certain media of society. At that time, within the nation, some argued that Kampuchea was independent since 1949, others claimed that independence had been conquered in 1954 thanks to the Geneva agreements. These two opinions, in short, despite the divergence in date, affirmed that Kampuchea was independent. But could one speak of independence given the true nature of the society of that time, of the true nature of the country? Neither the economy nor the culture were independent. Not even politics: some sectors were independent, but others were not. The same could be said about social life ».
Cambodia was in effect a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, and in that framework it is in which the Cambodian communists fought. A country dominated by imperialism and its lackeys which were mainly: the comprador bourgeoisie-patrons of import-export companies on behalf of foreign companies, and the bureaucratic bourgeoisie-corrupt officials, especially army officers who got rich doing business with merchants and some landowners.
In their book “Phnom Penh libérée“, Jérôme and Jocelyne Steinbach described in this way the vicious exploitation that the comprador bourgeoisie made the Khmer peasants suffer:
«… this comprador bourgeoisie hoarded the agricultural riches in the form of usurious interest: between two harvests, the peasants who could not face the multiple family, administrative or religious expenses, went to the merchant of the town that bought them the rice before harvest at half their value or lend them the equivalent of 15 kg of reimbursable rice … for the price of 30 kg at the time of harvest.
The money he made this way – from the work of the peasants – he deposited it in foreign banks, and bought properties in France, gold or jewels. Some built in Phnom Penh chalets that they rented to rich foreigners, especially Americans – rent that used to be paid in foreign currencies ».
But for the Cambodian revolutionaries, the class struggle in Cambodia is a complex problem and requires adopting a fair strategy and tactics. Prince Norodom Sihanouk, champion of opportunism and fine political strategist, knew how to use the reforms but also the contradictions between the different foreign forces with influence in the country to perpetuate his regime. On the one hand, it accepts US economic aid and represses the revolutionary movement and, on the other hand, participates in the Bandung conference and recognizes People’s China. In addition, he refuses to integrate Cambodia into the SEATO, the anti-communist military organization of Asia created by the US to wage war on the revolutionaries of Vietnam and undertake the nationalization of foreign trade and the banking sector. The danger posed by the CIA’s manoeuvres to destabilize the Sihanouk government (armed aggression by the Thai army, financial support to the fascist organization “Khmer Serei”) forces the revolutionaries to determine who are the main and secondary enemies.
The PCK will understand, therefore, the need to play on two boards: a legal struggle, using the parliamentary tribune to defend the rights of workers and peasants and support the policy of Sihanouk when it hits blows to imperialism and a struggle clandestine that rests on several factors: to avoid the repression of the police of Lon Nol that persecutes the revolutionaries and in prevention of a coup d’etat of the Lon Nol-Sirik Matak clique. The PCK will remember how the tragic events in Indonesia in 1965 convinced him to have chosen the right path by preparing for the clandestine struggle while organizing the legal struggle, which led him to introduce very strict security measures. The party undertakes an important work in the bosom of the masses:
“At nightfall, between 5 and 10 men, not all armed, enter a town where some residents of confidence usually wait for them. The security measures are very discreet and are installed in the house as simple visitors, sometimes in the room of the pagoda, where neighbours traditionally come together to listen to those who come from afar. They talk, joke and laugh, but above all they help the peasants to express their complaints about the officials and the police, and to become aware of the social injustices they suffer. Then, after having slipped some suggestions about the means to protect themselves from State agents and after going to respectfully greet the superior of the Buddhist monastery, the small group continues its route. A few hours before, the group itself has sent a neighbour to the nearest military post with the mission of discovering the presence of the rebels before they accuse the people of being favourable to them … The next visit of the rebels will allow analysing corruption and the infamies of the great mandarins and the environment of the head of state, leaving the inhabitants, some leaflets against the regime and the Lon Nol-Sirik Matak clique. The “Khmer Rouge” always strive to avoid confrontations with the government troops, since what they want above all is to try to do a deep work of masses ».
An in-depth work that will assure the PCK the direction of the people’s struggles. Demonstrations take place in the cities of Phnom Penh and Battambang and the organization of peasant struggles. In a country where more than 80% of the population are peasants, the struggles in the countryside were numerous. The peasants rebelled above all against landlords and corrupt officials who expelled them from their lands to increase their profits. The peasant revolts in Samlaut and Stung Kragnoung in 1967 marked a turning point. The repression of the men of Lon Nol is terrible, the reactionary troops massacre thousands of peasants. The communist deputies, who until that moment continued carrying out a legal work in the Assembly, are attacked by the regime that indicates them like people in charge of the revolt. Lon Nol demands the lifting of his parliamentary immunity and his appearance before the Military Court. Khieu Samphan and Hou Yuon are forced to enter the revolutionary underground resistance to escape repression. Several of his supporters follow them.
In 1968, the PCK, with strong peasant support, made the decision to unleash armed insurrections in several areas of the country following the strategy of the people’s war. Since then, the communists develop their bases of support and expand their guerrilla bases.
The American imperialists, for their part, no longer withstanding Sihanouk’s resistance to their policy, organize with the help of their servants Lon Nol and Prince Sirik Matak a coup against the government while Sihanouk was in France. Sihanouk is dismissed on March 18, 1970. This coup will result in the liberalization of the economy for the benefit of the United States and the establishment of a stronger support base to fight against the Vietnamese revolutionaries. Lon Nol troops support the American Marines in their war against Vietnam. In the interior of Cambodia they carry out massacres against the national minorities, in particular against the Vietnamese, but this base of support will be shown to be not very solid. Sihanouk, who had found refuge in the People’s Republic of China, is going to call the armed resistance against the traitor Lon Nol, thereby expanding the resistance led by the PCK.
On March 23, 1970, the National United Front of Kampuchea was created. Sihanouk announces that the only legitimate government is the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea created on May 5, 1970. The Cambodian resistance will unleash a formidable popular war that neither the intervention of the US troops nor those of Saigon put his service will get her back. Intensive bombings that will reach their highest levels in 1973, spills of chemical products and numerous tons of nails in the rice fields … are some of the genocidal practices by which the US government will try to subdue a town of 8 million inhabitants. But the men and women of the resistance of the people, between the fires of war, organize agricultural cooperatives to face the needs of the front and the people and build factories of plowing and armament instruments as the liberated zones expanded. The most combative workers of the popular struggles join the resistance. In the course of the year 1970 the resistance is already imposed in the middle of the country. In the liberated zones, the peasants celebrate their hydraulic constructions and the agricultural production reached with a revolutionary song whose lyrics are sublime:
We no longer depend on the sky for our crops,
Let’s lean on the collective strength,
Dry season or rainy season,
Let’s grow rice all year long!
We will fish,
Let’s move the heavy stones,
Let’s throw the trees that bother us,
The virgin lands become fertile fields!
Let’s ride on our back, on the tip of our seesaws,
Let’s declare war on nature,
Let’s annihilate imperialism and its lackeys,
The grain in abundance, the life always more beautiful!
The rice ripens in the fields,
Its branches wave in the wind,
The revolution illuminates the earth,
Immense golden extensions that are our joy.
The Cambodian revolution is like that; a liberation struggle in the course of which the masses begin to build the new revolutionary power based on socialist relations of production to improve their living conditions. The bourgeois commentators, in reality pseudo experts as only the bourgeoisie can produce, have fun spreading the slander that the “Khmer Rouge” were bad combatants who only had to face combatants even worse than them. Make no mistake, that has nothing to do with reality but rather with the hatred of the lackeys of imperialism before the ineffectiveness of the powerful weapons of their masters in front of the people in struggle, much less equipped but carrying out a just war . The Chinese journalists who covered the Phnom Penh front before the seizure of power by the “Khmer Rouge” have offered us, for their part, an amusing testimony:
«The most interesting thing is that they use airframes and tanks to produce casseroles. A tool factory in the east of the country produces between 1,500 and 1,800 aluminium pots per month, which is long enough to cover the needs of the local population. The rest is sent to the front. Upon arriving in the liberated regions, a Cambodian friend told us: “Now, enemy planes no longer scare people. When they see the planes, they say they are being sent steel.” When the planes fly over the fields, the peasants laugh as they say: “You can bomb us whenever you want. One day you will become casseroles ». Check to what extent these words make note the indifference and irony of a revolutionary people before the imperialists who so much rejoice in the power of their modern weapons! ”
Bad fighters who turn planes into pans! As for Kissinger’s threats to erase the country from the map in 72 hours if the liberation forces do not disarm, it shows nothing other than the lapdog nature of this hangman of the people. Confident of the victory of the people in arms, which carries out a fight without concessions, the FAPLNK (Armed Forces of National Liberation of Kampuchea) surround Phnom Penh, bastion of Lon Nol, which survives only thanks to the help of American imperialism. But, in the month of April 1975, Lon Nol must resign. The blessings of the monks, the magic amulets, all the Buddhist superstition that he trusted so much will not prevent his defeat. You will learn first-hand that the people are the only ones who make history and not the gods and the spirits. The US, for its part, stops helping the reactionary troops of the “Khmer Republic”. by the luck that the town reserves to them, the traitors go parading. Marshal Lon Nol will find refuge in the United States and General Sosthène Fernández will be forced to ask for political asylum in France. On April 17, 1975, revolutionaries liberated Phnom Penh without fighting except for brief exchanges of fire.
For the masses the joy is great, which is an important fact to underline, even though they want to forbid us today to say that Phnom Penh was “liberated”. On the contrary, among the representatives of imperialism who lived inside the city, it is panic. In the embassy of France, the Steinbach marriage is treated as a collaborationist. The French bourgeois of Phnom Penh who see “the end of civilization” in Cambodia, describe the revolutionaries as “Nazis”. The revolutionaries, meanwhile, will account for several traitors as, for example, Sirik Matak, executed after his capture. The victory of the FUNK is guaranteed but the difficulties have not ended. Because of the murderous bombings of the Americans, millions of refugees from the countryside have been crowded into the city of Phnom Penh. Of 600,000 inhabitants before 1970, the population has increased to 3,000,000 inhabitants! The PCK had anticipated long before the liberation of the city that the supply of the population of Phnom Penh, totally dependent on parachute food launches organized by the US, would be a serious problem.. This leads him to make a historical decision, described by all the bourgeoisies of the world and their agents as one of the worst horrors of the last century: the total evacuation of the city. On this event, the reactionaries in the service of imperialism compete in fabulations and gossip: madness of the “Khmer Rouge”, agrarian utopia, gratuitous barbarism, etc. Let us restore the facts in the light of historical materialism. The declarations of the main actors of this decision will contribute to this:
On August 12, 1975, Khieu Samphan, then Deputy Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the FAPLNK, thus presented the situation to the representative of the Information Agency of Kampuchea:
“For more than 5 years, American imperialism and its servants outside the country, carried out an unprecedented war of destruction, the most barbaric, the most cruel, against the nation and the people of Kampuchea. Our economy was largely destroyed, factories, rice fields, fields, communication routes, schools, hospitals, housing, pagodas of cities and fields, were largely destroyed.
Our compatriots were forcibly imprisoned by millions and imprisoned in concentration camps in Phnom Penh and in the other cities provisionally controlled by the enemy. The victims had no food, cholera was irreparably decimated, families were painfully separated and scattered throughout the country. Immediately after the liberation, the GRUNK, the FUNK and all the people and the popular army are determined to solve all these problems, which were but the aftermath of the wildest war of destruction and aggression of American imperialism and its agents. How to solve these problems?
On the one hand, the inhabitants of the countryside had accepted all the sacrifices to win in the war of aggression and destruction of the American imperialists and their lackeys and suffered for many years. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the cities, by millions, who had just been liberated, suffered from famine because of the enemy and were in a sorry state. This problem was of an unprecedented severity, we had to solve it without losing a moment, since it was a vital issue for our nation and our people ».
On September 4, the GRUNK Deputy Prime Minister, Ieng Sary, returns to this matter in an interview with Newsweek Latin America about the two main reasons for the evacuation of Phnom Penh:
“There were two reasons, and the first one was the food. We had estimated that the population of Phnom Penh was about 2 million inhabitants, but we had found almost 3 million when we entered the city.. Until then, the Americans had supplied between 30,000 and 40,000 tons of food each month to Phnom Penh. We lacked the means to transport the same amount of food to the capital. At the same time, the population had to look for food wherever they were, and we had to feed that population preserving our independence and dignity without demanding help from any country. ”
The second reason:
“We had discovered an enemy document that revealed all the details of a secret political-military plan of the American CIA and the Lon Nol regime to provoke unrest after our victory. That plan had three points:
We would not be able to solve the problem of the lack of provisions for the population: the enemy would foment incidents among the population provoked by its agents infiltrated among the population.
Numerous soldiers of Lon Nol who had surrendered, actually hid their weapons with which they intended to attack us once we had taken Phnom Penh;
They had planned to corrupt our fighters, weakening their fighting spirit with women, alcohol and money. ”
In adopting the decision to evacuate Phnom Penh, the PCK made a political decision, perhaps the most difficult but also the most courageous and the boldest that has ever been taken. The mobilization of the masses for agriculture in the agricultural cooperatives made it possible to escape from the terrible famine that the US government suffered. I had expected it to happen in the country. The evacuation of the population of Phnom Penh allowed at the same time to make a masterful move: to neutralize in less than 24 hours the organized counterrevolution in the city. But, deprived of adequate means, the consequences will be tragic for many of the evacuees. Most of them were poor, especially peasants who had fled the bombed fields, but there were also beggars and coolies who, however, later saw their living standards improve in the cooperatives. The workers – and also many peasants who swell the ranks of the working class – will gradually return to the city to repair and build new factories. Another part of the population of Phnom Penh was made up of a tiny minority who lived in luxury and who had to share with much regret the work of the people for the reconstruction of the country. Assured the military victory and solved the main problem that was posed in Phnom Penh, the revolution imposes an essential priority: Everything is about to rebuild.
One of the poorest countries on the planet, sparsely populated, largely decimated by many years of war, is going to launch into a gigantic productive battle of which its historical scope has never been underlined. The task was hard, very hard. But on this occasion, the people work for themselves, to build an independent and prosperous country. Once free of exploitative landlords, of usurers guilty of the misery of the peasants, and free of the capitalists of the city and of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie and buyer in the service of foreign companies, Cambodia recovers its riches and decides its own way, what that will not stop enraging all the imperialists who had an interest in the country, since the victory of the revolution in Cambodia follows the liberation of Saigon by the troops of the FNL and the total debacle of the American Marines. History has taught once again that little matter the capital invested in the war, technology and modern weapons of American imperialism: the people’s war is invincible! And the hope that the victories of the peoples of Asia aroused among the other peoples of the world in struggle was great. In the imperialist metropolises, in turn, communist and popular forces celebrate the victory of the revolutionary wars of Southeast Asia.
From then on, the capitalist press launched a smear campaign against the Cambodian revolution. Le Figaro was one of the first bourgeois newspapers to speak of genocide. In a racist style that does not surprise coming from his side, he declared on May 12, 1975:
“What the Khmer Rouge do (which mix Asian barbarism and revolutionary fanaticism) is a pure and simple genocide.”
The journalists compete in lies while the French Interior Ministry seals the Cambodian embassy in Paris and occupies its premises. The communists of Cambodia do not ignore the slander and actions directed against them from abroad. They will try to the extent of their ability to show, through the press, visits of foreign guests and reports, the conquests of the revolution. As we have pointed out above, the struggle of the Cambodian people is part of the many struggles that oppose the oppressed peoples with imperialism. However, the Cambodian revolution has certain specificities. In the first place, it is one of the rare revolutions in a country dominated, after the Chinese revolution, in which the revolutionary leadership did not carry out the armed conquest of independence with the support of the masses to move towards a new form dependence on foreign powers but did everything possible to preserve their independence and not become a semi-colony. The case of the Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions, for example, is significant. The revolution does not stop with the seizure of power. Once power is conquered, economic and political transformations have an essential character to build true independence, which is impossible without radically questioning the unequal international division of labour. In the case of Cuba, as in Vietnam, the revolutionary leaders subjected their country and its people to these unequal relations for the benefit of the social-imperialist USSR by joining COMECON, which has led to dramatic consequences from the point of view of view of its economic development as well as the political dramas that it has supposed. Without an ideologically firm direction that applies the principles of having its own forces and that understands that socialism cannot be reduced to state ownership of the means of production, it is impossible to carry out correctly the construction of socialism. This is why the experience of Democratic Kampuchea is important.
We must not forget that the context in which the construction of socialism in Cambodia takes place is unprecedented. Indeed, while the other socialist states had been able to count on the internationalist economic aid of Stalin’s USSR, Cambodia had to make its revolution under totally different conditions. The USSR, after the seizure of power by the Khrushchevite revisionists, became “social imperialism.” The People’s Republic of China, which until that time represented the only consistent aid to the Cambodian revolutionaries, fell in 1976 into the hands of the revisionist clique led by Deng Xiaoping, with which the economic cooperation that will continue to exist with the Deng regime will not be a solid guarantee in view of the new orientations of the Chinese revisionists. Having your own strength is going to be a vital principle for the PCK that will never beg for help anyway: Carrying out the task that had been proposed to be developed in these certain conditions, the PCK traces the course of its economic line in the following major features:
“In the work of national construction, we rely on the realities of our country, a backward agricultural country and destroyed by the war of aggression and devastation … We take agriculture as the fundamental factor and we use the capital accumulated by agriculture to build progressively industry and to transform Kampuchea, which has a backward agriculture, into a short period of time, into a modern country, into an industrial country, firmly clinging to the line of independence and sovereignty and having our own forces. ”
“In the field of agriculture, we give priority to solving the water problem, which is the key factor in obtaining maximum production of rice, our basic food crop.”
. Not only the collectivization of agriculture takes place but also the construction of new factories for the work of metals and the development of shipbuilding. Thus, the economy is reorganized and, in spite of the obvious difficulties, an economic boom is going to take place. A document written by a researcher illustrates this fact well and, although it suffers from certain bourgeois prejudices, it has the merit of fairly honestly exposing the accomplishments and achievements of the PCK in economic matters:
On the one hand, the principle of self-sufficiency according to which the country must produce, as far as possible, what is necessary for its survival. This principle will be followed profusely and the Cambodian leaders will not resort to foreign aid with the exception of the supply of machines and the technical training of the workers (Chinese, Korean, Yugoslav, and Romanian). It was not for the Cambodians to import finished products, it was necessary to manufacture them themselves. And, on the other hand, the gigantic extension of agriculture and, above all, the hydraulic constructions, made it necessary to obtain the corresponding tools: picks, shovels, motor pumps, plows, rice threshing machines, tractors …
Phnom Penh will specialize in the construction of agricultural machines, in the manufacture of spare parts and in the assembly of heavy machinery (tractors) »
But economic construction becomes a context of permanent threats. Indeed, Vietnam is going through difficulties but does not face these problems in the same way as Cambodians: for the mobilization of the masses for the reconstruction of the country. He is going to choose another way, consequence of the political betrayal of his leaders. Vietnam, after having resisted for a while, adheres to COMECOM. And this one has projects for Cambodia. The Soviets arrived at that time to an agreement with the clique of Vietnamese traitors to subject Democratic Kampuchea to a specialization of the work that Kampuchea rejects. In its economic framework, Cambodia should be limited to rice monoculture. It is the same procedure with which the USSR has subjected the Cuban economy to sugar. The Vietnamese leaders agree with this. With a population of 50 million inhabitants to feed and taking into account the monumental destructions caused by the imperialist war, the Vietnamese undertake the task of subjugating their neighbours, once brothers of struggle.
The occupation and predation of Laos and its 2 million inhabitants and that of Cambodia and its 8 million inhabitants and their abundant lands are the objectives that have been set.
Already in 1977, an attempt at a coup d’état fomented by Vietnamese agents in order to overthrow the government of Democratic Kampuchea was frustrated. Since then, the investigations to find the traitors who act masked under the orders of the Vietnam Labour Party intensify. And with them, repression. Some conspirators manage to escape. Among them, Hun Sen, current president of Cambodia, who will return in 1979 thanks to the Vietnamese tanks. In December 1977, a first armed aggression was carried out by the Vietnamese army; later, in April 1978, a second aggression took place, but both were rejected by the armed forces of Kampuchea.
In September 1978, a delegation from the PCMLF (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of France) visited Democratic Kampuchea. In his farewell, the secretary general of the PCK will refer to the future of the conflict in these terms:
“French comrades, you return to your country. In a short time you will know the news that Vietnam, supported by the Soviet social-imperialism, will have launched a new attack of great magnitude against Kampuchea and will try to invade the country.
At that moment, there will be two options: either our forces will fall apart, and that will show that the people were not satisfied with our policy; or else our forces will resist victoriously and reject the Vietnamese aggressors, which will prove that our people are satisfied with our policy and, consequently, will support it. ”
A few months later, Vietnam launches a major offensive on Cambodia. A powerful offensive in which 100,000 men enter the country supported by Soviet material and manage to overthrow the government of Democratic Kampuchea.. The Vietnamese will be the first, along with the Soviets, to foment a powerful propaganda machine against the government of Democratic Kampuchea in order to impose a new one under their boots. The stacks of skulls, of which all reactionary propaganda is still used today to show the barbarism of the “Khmer Rouge” will be one of its staging. The Cambodians must thereafter reorganize the struggle through guerrilla warfare against a party and a people apparently “brother”. We are therefore facing a tragic event that will tarnish the sacrifices of the struggle of the Asian peoples for their liberation. Even more so considering that the invading army is led by General Vo Nguyen Giap, Dien Bien Phu’s hero. This betrayal of proletarian internationalism by the “socialist” Republic of Vietnam was a hard lesson and a bitter disappointment for the international communist movement. In addition, it took place at a time when the economy and conditions of workers began to improve, the result of three years of very hard work. The consequences of Vietnam’s accession to COMECON clearly illustrate the imperialist policy of the Soviet revisionists. During the invasion, the crops are looted and the industrial machines are dismantled and taken to Vietnam. Thousands of Vietnamese peasants are taken to occupy the lands of Cambodia. Vietnam creates and imposes a “communist” party and a new government at its service with the help of Cambodian traitors and Khmer Khroms (Cambodian minority of Vietnam). A practice of colonization, in short, tending to deliver Cambodia to the Khmer minority, which clearly demonstrates the way of action of the Vietnamese revisionists and their betrayal of a brotherly people. For the Cambodian revolutionaries, in spite of a strong resistance, it is the debacle. This new situation entails a radical change of strategy. In order to face this aggression, it is necessary then to organize “a broad national front of all the patriotic and democratic forces both inside and outside the country” against the invader. A political program for the constitution of a “National Patriotic and Democratic Great Front of Kampuchea Front” is drawn up. The bourgeois democratic orientation of the Front’s program and the class alliances that take place in the Resistance struggle are proof that the Cambodian society had not reached the “great concord” as naively assumed in the 1976 constitution.
The Khmer-Vietnamese war will involve other foreign actors with their own interests. The US, anxious not to let the influence of the USSR extend into Asia, is going to support the government of Democratic Kampuchea against Vietnam, like Deng Xiaoping’s China, in this case also because of its conflicts with the USSR. What is important to underline is that the UN missions in Cambodia (MIPRENUC and APRONUC) fail to impose the disarmament of the resistant Khmer Rouge or their strategy of peace agreements with a view to holding “democratic” elections. And that despite the commitments they tried to impose on Chinese leaders. The Vietnamese occupation will withdraw from the country in 1991 and the UN will end its mission in 1993, after having left the sad memory of numerous cases of child rapes committed by UNTAC soldiers. The “Khmer Rouge” continued to be a major guerrilla force until 1998, date of the implosion of the movement. In 1996, Ieng Sary took the path of treachery taking with him 4,000 fighters. The movement will be weakened with a last pocket of resistance in Anlong Veng. The betrayal of Ta Mok, organizing a parody of popular court against the former leader Pol Pot and other cadres, will mean the final fall of the “Khmer Rouge.” The last “Khmer Rouge” who judged Pol Pot to be a “traitor” will be the same ones who will liquidate the armed movement, which will lead to the abandonment of the riches of Cambodia and its labour force for the benefit of the imperialists. History has ruled who the traitors were.
THE REVENGE OF THE IMPERIALISTS
Imperialism is merciful. He has no problem in paying tribute to Mandela for having extended his arms to the oppressors of his people and joining his cause. But like the God of the Bible, his mercy is only comparable to his revenge against the rebels. He condemns them to life imprisonment in his material life and undertakes the task of dirtying his memory and his struggle in the heads of the people for centuries of the centuries, when he does not kill them as in the case of Ernesto Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, Um Nyobé, Thomas Sankara, Edith Lagos and many other worthy sons and daughters of the town.
It is convenient at this point to return to the recent sentence in perpetuity of the last still alive leaders of Democratic Kampuchea pronounced by the imperialist court that takes the name of “extraordinary Chambers in the bosom of the Cambodian Courts” (CETC). It is not a secret that this court has been established thanks to the money of the imperialists, among which are the exploiters of Cambodia: USA and France. Other countries that helped with equipment and military training to the Lon Nol regime, such as Japan and Australia, also participated:
“The payment of the salaries of national personnel depends entirely (underlined by us) of the voluntary contributions of the friendly countries of the CETC. The main donor countries according to their national composition are Japan, the European Union, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom. ”
It will easily be understood that this court is not that of “Justice” with a big “J” as they want to present it, but that of the organized revenge of the imperialist plunderers in a great campaign of criminalization of Communism and submission of Kampuchea.
Nuon Chea’s lawyer, Victor Koppe, had the courage to question the legitimacy of the court, stating that it was intended to actually carry out “a generalized offensive against communism as such”. Indeed, did not the court reproach Nuon Chea, who still considers himself Marxist-Leninist, to have read Stalin and Mao?
Leaving aside the dishonest manoeuvres of the court, such as the fact that the majority of the witnesses were from the prosecution -35 witnesses by the co-prosecutors, against 4 for the defence (!) – and that neither Norodom Sihanouk nor six senior officials of the party in power did not respond to the summons of the judges, the essential thing is in the sentence pronounced by the court. On August 7, 2014, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were sentenced to life imprisonment. His crime? “Crime against humanity”, of course! Here in the words of the court, what constitutes a crime against humanity?
«… Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, together with the other members of the Standing Committee and the Central Committee and the government ministers and the Zona secretaries, participated in a common criminal enterprise. This group of people had as a common project to realize a rapid socialist revolution, by all means, in favour of a “great leap forward”. The Chamber is convinced that this common project was implemented with the help, among other means, of policies that aimed to forcibly transfer the inhabitants of the cities and proceed to forced displacements of populations between the different rural areas. As a result, in April 1975, during the first phase of population displacement, Khmer Rouge soldiers proceeded to carry out the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh and to displace at least two million people under false pretences and threats, often under the pressure of arms, practically without warning, and in a situation dominated by terror and acts of violence. Once expelled, the population of Phnom Penh suffered a prolonged siege characterized by food shortages, in such a way that it was seriously weakened. It is in such a state of weakening that the population was forced to march to the rural areas during the warmest month of the year, practically without food, without water or medical care, accommodation or means of transport. The whole population of Phnom Penh without exception was evacuated, including monks, the elderly and children, the sick and wounded who were in hospitals, pregnant women and those who had just given birth. There are numerous cases in which Khmer Rouge soldiers shot and killed civilians during the evacuation and many people died of exhaustion, malnutrition or disease. ”
“The Chamber of First Instance is equally convinced that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan put the common project into action by resorting to a policy of carrying out specific measures against the former soldiers and officials of the Khmer Republic. This policy had in particular the result of the execution of Tuol Po Chrey immediately after April 17, 1975, and of at least 250 soldiers and officials of the Khmer Republic who had been taken from Pursat. ”
It is clear that nowhere in the court report is the word “genocide” mentioned, which we are sure will not prevent bourgeois media and reactionary intellectuals from spreading the word whenever they refer to Pol Pot and Democratic Kampuchea ( the term aims to scare public opinion). Thus, what has been considered a “crime against humanity” is mainly:
The evacuation of the population of Phnom Penh.
The execution of former soldiers and officials of the dictator Lon Nol.
We have seen above why the leaders of the PCK had made the decision to evacuate Phnom Penh.. But the accusers pretend that they do not know the circumstances of this decision. They did not dare to give their opinion on what should have been done. Thus, the document of the sentence itself stipulates:
“Once expelled, the population of Phnom Penh suffered a prolonged siege characterized by food shortages, in such a way that it was seriously weakened.”
But of course the court does not know that the evacuees were taken to the cooperatives precisely to solve the food problem, and that, therefore, they were not displaced free of charge with the aim of making them die. And of this situation that crossed Phnom Penh, the court tried to blame the “Khmer Rouge” and not the guilty ones of that situation; that is, to the American imperialists and their terrible bombings. And we must also take into account the situation in which all the dominated countries were located, most of them agricultural countries that could feed themselves but were subject – due to the division of labour imposed by the large foreign companies – to having to to export their food crops for the benefit of the imperialist countries and to be obliged to import food from those same countries. But far from it was the intention of the accusers – annals of imperialism – to question a catastrophic situation created by the economic system of their masters. And not to mention disgusting denialism regarding the intensity of the American bombings and their consequences on the country’s economy and the danger they represented for the future of the people of Kampuchea those conditions, not evacuating the city would have meant death for all its inhabitants. If there is no one or too few arms to farm the land in a war-ravaged country whose economy is essentially dominated by agriculture, it is clear that the famine would have hit hard and that a considerable mass of people would end up dying. Who does not recognize this simple truth is either a hypocrite or a cretin!
What the miserable people who are horrified by the evacuation of the city really mean is that the Resistance forces should not have won the war, and that Phnom Penh should have been under the control of the Americans and their lackeys of the Lon Nol clique – Sirik Matak. What they are really attacking is the change of class in power in society that followed the fall of Phnom Penh.
As for the accusation made against the Cambodian leaders of having killed – in time of war – their most dangerous enemies, it is very ridiculous and does not serve, neither more nor less, than to attack the revolution as such. The influence of the Cambodian diaspora abroad, including former officials and supporters of the coup regime of Lon Nol-Sirik Matak, who found refuge in the US and France, protective countries, is perceived in this case. Both Lon Nol, who died under the Miami sun, and Sosthène Fernández, who after living a comfortable life in “the country of the rights of Man”, returned to Cambodia where his good business flourished after the liberalization of the economy.
Obviously, it is easy to be right when monopolizing the word, information, etc. “The lie travels with the expenses paid by the government,” said Robespierre. Before the overwhelming propaganda media of imperialism it is difficult to re-establish the historical truth about Democratic Kampuchea. In this way, the history of Cambodia does not begin on April 17, 1975, contrary to the speculations about “the year zero” of the priest Ponchaud and the newspaper France Soir. However, we can share here some statements of Nuon Chea during his process. They are words too just to be silenced. On the other hand, as far as the other versions are concerned, we have not yet finished listening to them.
“… I would like to respond to the prosecutors’ allegations that the PCK used revolutionary violence even before 1975. These statements show that they address the events in Cambodia from a single point of view. They pretend not to know anything, have not seen anything and have not heard any other point of view. In legal jargon, this is called “the justice of the victors.” I remind you that before deciding to undertake the armed struggle for the liberation of the country, many members of the PCK as well as civilians were executed, detained, tortured and disappeared clandestinely every day. All Cambodians still remember those events. This type of violence existed under all the regimes that ruled Cambodia, and the victims were peasants and all of them innocent. To begin, let’s take the case of French colonialism. France colonized Cambodia for close to a century. This regime always resorted to violence through arrests, executions of unarmed peasants … in the village of Krang Leav, in the province of Kampong Chnang, these peasants did not have the means to pay taxes and demonstrated to demand justice. But, finally, the peasants were the losers and the name of their people was changed by the French to be called “People of bestiality”, or “Phum Tearunakamm” in the Khmer language. Is not that violence?
In Sangkum Reastr Niyum, the bulldozers demolished the houses and rice fields that belonged to the peasants of Andaeuk Haeb, in Samlaut, in the province of Battambang. They seized the lands of the people who had lived there for several generations. When they protested in order to protect their property, the soldiers shot at those people who were unarmed without worrying if they were men, women, young or old. And, what is even worse, the authorities tried to kill more people who had taken fear and fled to the forest. Later, the authorities accused the owners of these lands of being Khmer Rouge. Is it not in cases like this where the origins of the violence and suffering of the population are found?
Under the regime of Lon Nol, supported by the United States, the soldiers raped the women, stole the goods of the people and killed wherever they went. They decapitated the people and stuck their heads on stakes, simply because they suspected that the population was opposed to the regime or because they were involved in the Khmer Rouge revolution. Lon Nol soldiers’ systematically raped women, looted their belongings and forcibly expelled people from their homes.
The Vietnamese minorities were massacred throughout Cambodia. The United States threw tons of bombs on the villages, the houses, the rice fields and the pagodas. Tens of thousands of people, including civilians, children, the elderly and pregnant women and people with disabilities were killed. Is not this a crime against humanity or a genocide?
In 1979, Vietnam invaded and occupied Cambodia. In the following years they moved the artillery to bomb the refugee camps along the border between Cambodia and Thailand. (…) The houses were burned, the properties destroyed, many people lost their lives, including children, women, elderly and disabled people. »(…)
“If it is claimed that the PCK resorted to violence before 1975, why do not the co-prosecutors present the reality concerning the events that occurred on the other side, committed against the Cambodian people?. I want to note that the co-prosecutors have insisted on emphasizing the executions during the war and have tried to establish a relationship with the executions that occurred immediately after the end of the war. Working in this way, they try to show the camera that the PCK had a systematic plan. But it is unfair to establish this relationship. If killing during a war is a systematic plan, why then is the opposing party in that war not prosecuted by the co-prosecutors?
The PCK had a plan to wage war in order to liberate the country from destruction. The strategy in combat was to defeat the enemy, which in itself is not an illegal act. In many countries of the world, people fight against their government in the name of the cause in which they believe, and demand changes and, in particular, the right to decide their own destiny and that of their countries.
To cite some examples, Sri Lanka, Syria, Libya, Vietnam and Iraq. All these countries have known a civil war and, during those wars, the various factions developed plans to destroy the enemy.
If the Chamber considers that the planning of a war constitutes a criminal intention, as the co-prosecutors claim, then the leaders of those countries must be persecuted, and the governments … and the opposition leaders, and above all, the United, Vietnam and the current Cambodian leaders. It is not enough to chase only the crocodile’s body and allow the head and tail to escape the law. ”
“The co-prosecutors claim that the PCK encircled Phnom Penh and that this caused food shortages. The indictment also states that it was inhumane to bomb the military bases of Lon Nol established in the city. However, the indictment does not say that Lon Nol’s soldiers were equipped with US-supplied artillery and that they threw millions of ammunition, as well as more than 500,000 tons of bombs that devastated the country, destroyed houses, property, animals, farms … and killed tens of thousands of people (…) Is not this a crime or an inhumane act?
The Americans launched three times more bombs on Cambodia than on Japan during the Second World War. For the PCK, the inhabitants of the cities were not enemies, contrary to what the accusation advances. The inhabitants of Phnom Penh were mainly workers, peasants, petty-bourgeois and intellectuals, of whom the PCK needed to rely on their forces to build the revolution. ”
“I would also like to respond to the allegations of the prosecution that the regime of Democratic Kampuchea would have been a slave state. That is not true. My compatriots know that the PCK did not fight to liberate the country with the objective of subjugating the population, as the accusation states. Quite the contrary, the PCK liberated the people, who were being subjugated. We must all understand that before the liberation of April 17, 1975, most of the peasants were poor: they could not meet their daily basic needs, they were faced with great difficulties, there were no public services or social protection for the poor, corruption it was omnipresent, corruption and injustice were deeply rooted in the high Cambodian hierarchies … Thus, people became increasingly poor. The poor had to borrow money from the rich to cover their basic needs, go to the doctor and pay their taxes. The rich, for their part, took advantage of this situation and harassed the poor, demanding an interest at their discretion and practicing usurious rates. Monthly interest could reach not less than 50 percent of the loaned capital. Considering this type of excessive interest, people did not have the necessary means to pay back their debts. In this way, the creditors confiscated their farm, their rice and their house, and when the people no longer had a farm, rice or house, they were forced to work as slaves in order to repay a debt that could never be repaid. Very often, they were forced to sell their children to work as slaves for other people in exchange for food. This type of exploitation and the misery of the population was one of the numerous problems that the PCK was determined to solve by freeing the country and its people from slavery, the exploitation of human beings and the invasion of their territory by from other countries. And, for that, we had to build a country where everyone lived in equality, benefiting from independence, from autonomy; a country that decided for itself its destiny (…) the PCK never conceived any policy or a plan destined to reduce the population to slavery, to deprive them of food, to force them to work or to kill them. On the contrary, in mid-1976, the Standing Committee prepared and adopted a four-year plan for the construction of socialism in all domains. ”
Nuon Chea, and Pol Pot before him, never denied that there have been errors and crimes, but they resituate them in their context: lies of certain local cadres about working conditions in the cooperatives, personal vendettas against the inhabitants of the cities by part of the peasants who had suffered during the war, the inexperience and the pressures exerted by the Vietnamese plots, etc. It is also evident that the cadres of the PCK have great responsibilities. For example, weakness in the application of democratic centralism, a metaphysical view of the class struggle under socialism, etc But objective historical conditions should not be forgotten. “The revolutionaries are the heirs of poisoned situations,” as Catherine Quiminal rightly said. It must be taken into account that Democratic Kampuchea has not had more than three years and eight months to rebuild and develop, and both the isolation of the Cambodian revolution and the degree of destruction suffered during the war, in addition to the betrayal of Vietnam, has not been chosen by the revolutionaries of Cambodia, but they have had to face it. It was that or not to continue with the revolution.
And then the imperialist monopolies impose on Cambodia the unequal international division of labour that the working masses pay with their lives. The scoundrel of prosecutor Andrew Cayley had the shame of declaring: “The defendants who are before you are time robbers and vulgar murderers of a whole generation of Cambodians. They have stolen decades of development and prosperity in that country. “They wanted to make the masses believe that it is not imperialism that is responsible for the past and present misery of Cambodia, which is not the one that “steals decades of development and prosperity in that country. Obviously Democratic Kampuchea has not carried out the reconstruction of the country with the help of international financial institutions that deliver the wealth of the people into the hands of imperialist monopolies. Evidently when neither the land nor the factories belong to the imperialists and their local puppets, when the exploiters cannot overexploit the labour power of the dominated peoples, they regard the agricultural production of Democratic Kampuchea as a “subjection to slavery.”
Lies and huge slanders have been thrown against this revolution! And you do not have to be a communist to recognize it. The American intellectual Noam Chomsky, who cannot be accused of sympathy for Communism, honestly declared the following about the term “the genocide of the Khmer Rouge”:
“You have to be a little cautious about this matter of” genocide …. It is not evident that Pol Pot has killed so many people, or even simply more people than the United States killed in Cambodia in the first half of the 70s. We do not speak of “genocide” more than when it is the others who massacre [United States bombed and invaded Cambodia from 1969, and supported the anti-parliamentary rights forces during a civil war that lasted until 1975; Pol Pot ruled the country between 1975 and 1978There is, therefore, much uncertainty as to the exact importance of the massacre perpetrated by Pol Pot, but the best study that exists today estimates the deaths in Cambodia, among all possible causes, during the period of Pol Pot, in a figure from several hundred thousand to a maximum of one million. So, just take a look at the massacre that took place between 1970 and 1975, the period in which we are responsible, in this case the dead were also hundreds of thousands.
Also, if you really want to take this story seriously – let’s say that a million people died during the Pol Pot years, to take the higher figure – it is necessary to remember that when the United States put an end to its attacks in the interior of Cambodia In 1975, American officials predicted that in the postwar period around one million Cambodians would die more because of the effects of the American war. At the time when the United States withdrew from Cambodia, only in Phnom Penh – forgetting the rest of the country – people were dying of hunger at a rate of 100,000 people a year. The last mission of USAID [the agency of cooperation and American development] in Cambodia predicted that it would take two years of slave labour and famine before the country can barely start working again. Thus, it is not so easy to calculate the number of deaths that must be attributed to the United States during the Pol Pot period, although it is clearly a large figure: when the agricultural system of a country is annihilated and a million people are displaced from their homes to the cities in which they become refugees, of course many people will die, and the responsibility of their death is not the regime that took the baton but those who traced the path ».
“In conclusion, if we are honest about the term” genocide “, we will distinguish between the deaths in the Pol Pot era a main part that are our responsibility, the responsibility of the United States.”
But the imperialists have invented many other slanders and have spread many other nonsense, as is the case with the stupid lie that the “Khmer Rouge” repressed all those who wore glasses (!).Here is a lie in the style of Goebbels: the bigger, more people will believe it. “Lie, lie, lie, something will remain,” as the Nazi propagandist proclaimed. Thus, Democratic Kampuchea would have supposed nothing other than “chaos”, “nothing” and “obscurantism”; How can one characterize the productive struggle for the reconstruction of a country devastated by war? And the hydraulic constructions and the works carried out by the people that allowed to provide two harvests per year (the never seen in that country until then)? And the reconstruction of roads and bridges and the appearance of the first infrastructures for heavy industry? It is an insult against the people and their history. Obscurantism? The heroic partisans of Democratic Kampuchea could testify to this. The role they played in the revolution was immense, both in the armed struggle and in production, in a country in which women had no rights. Today, they have been disarmed in order to integrate them more easily into the sex tourism economy that the capitalists call the “entertainment sector”. And, proof that feudalism and obscurantism survive thanks to imperialism, is that even young virgins are sold. Women workers are killed in response to their strikes in the textile industry. And they still try to equate the “Khmer Rouge” with the mercenaries of the Islamic State! It is necessary to remember that prostitution had been eradicated in Democratic Kampuchea, and that in order that each woman could find the necessary means to live in that way having a role to play in the common task of building socialism. Intellectual charlatans describe prostitution as an inevitable evil of all human societies under the pretext that it is “the oldest profession in the world.” History shows that only the Dictatorship of the proletariat manages to sweep away prostitution, and it does so by attacking the social roots of sexual exploitation and the mafias, and that from the Paris Commune! But, obviously, for many western bourgeois it is better to go on vacation to the Cambodia of the prostitutes than to the Cambodia of the partisans. A woman with a rifle and a job is less easy to prostitute…
It is said that the “Khmer Rouge” were racists. It is certainly easy to accuse of racism a people assaulted by foreign armed forces.. We will therefore forgo refuting the accusation of anti-Vietnamese racism, even more so given that we could accuse the Corsicans, the Kanaks and even the Comorians towards the French, for example, of racism. Nor would we accuse the French of racism against those who, in the 1940s, were called “boches”. The accusation of racism towards the Vietnamese and the Chinese of Cambodia categorically ignores the fact that, in a given country, the different nationalities can have a class character. The historical development of Cambodia has given rise to the fact that there were many – if not almost all – of the buyers traders who were of Chinese origin, or Chinese-Khmer, and it is from this objective fact that the repression of «Khmer Rouge» against the Cambodian Chinese.
And, of course, there is another fact that exasperates the bourgeois intellectuals: the abolition of the currency. The philistines educated in bourgeois prejudices conceive the currency as something indispensable for humanity, but currency does not appear in nature in the same way as trees and birds, but it has a social history that is inscribed in the relations of production of exploitation between humans. Introduced by colonialism to, among other reasons, make the peasants pay taxes, the currency has played a destructive role in all the colonized countries. So, it is normal for the capitalist press to make a lot of noise around this issue. In the capitalist society in which everything is bought and everything is sold, the currency is the supreme God. Without it, the human being would be separated from all social relationships. Even our teenagers, under the influence of the dominant ideology, do not stop praising its virtues. We will never stop listening to say how much you need and how much you want. However, currency does not exist in societies in which pre-capitalist economic formations subsist, as was the case in Cambodia. On the question of currency and wages, Pol Pot responded thus to the French comrades who visited Cambodia in 1978:
“With regard to the role of currency, the wage system and trade, I wanted to say the following: in 1970-1971, we had already released between 75 and 80% of our country. At that time, we had the political power and the military power, but we did not have the economic power, since the economy was in the hands of the landlords and the capitalists. In turn, the latter hoarded the entire production because they had the money (…)
The population suffered many difficulties in the alimentary plane, like our army. These difficulties had a negative impact on the National Liberation War. Thus, after having studied this situation well, we decided to create cooperatives in order to control the economy and agricultural production in the countryside and deal with the management, distribution, procurement and exchanges between cooperatives, on the one hand, and between cooperatives and the State, on the other hand. This is how we could control agricultural production and solve the problems of the living conditions of the people. The people were enthusiastic about this situation and sent their children to the army to fight the enemy. When cooperatives began to collaborate and develop product exchanges among themselves, the role of the currency was progressively diminishing. In 1974, the currency decreased by 80%. Before the liberation, only the State [refers to the revolutionary government] used the currency, and used it to buy various products in the area that was not yet released to cover the needs of the liberated area that was under its control. After these experiences, we consulted the people and the latter felt that the money did not have any use because the cooperatives could carry out the exchanges between them without having to resort to money. Thus, at that moment, in the liberated zone that extended over more than 90% of the country with close to 6 million inhabitants, we had already solved that problem. When the inhabitants of the cities were transferred to the countryside, the cooperatives took charge of them in their entirety. In short, this experience led us to not use the currency so far. What will happen in the future? If the population thinks that the currency should be used again, we will use it, but if it thinks that this is not necessary, it will be decided accordingly (…)
In relation to the wage system, also the practices acquired in the past in the revolutionary movement, especially during the National Liberation War, which determined that both the cadres and the army had no salary. Before the liberation, in the liberated zone, the cadres, the army, the population … that is, close to 6 million people, became accustomed to living without salary.. We had emphasized that previously, most of our people had no salary, except for the officials. Thus, with these acquired practices, the population of the cities joined the cooperatives. The civil and military cadres, the men and women combatants of the army and the workers continued with this supply regime in force during the war. We believe that this prevents a heavy burden from falling on the backs of the people and allows us to reserve money mainly for national defense and construction. What will happen in the future in relation to this issue? That will depend on the concrete situation and the people. ”
We have not said that Cambodia would have been able to carry out its development project following this route had Soviet-Vietnamese aggression not taken place. The economist Samir Amin had made in 1977 a positive critique of the economic orientation followed by the PCK in the construction of socialism, analysing that it could be applied to other countries with similar characteristics (especially in Africa). Without forgetting that the construction of socialism is determined above all by its political orientation – it is politics that guides the economy – the experience of Democratic Kampuchea, studied in a critical way, could serve the future struggles of the proletariat and the peoples of the underdeveloped countries.
If the imperialists and the reaction in power in Cambodia want to soil the achievements of Democratic Kampuchea, it is because, on the one hand, the process against the Khmer Rouge provides an important opportunity to make anti-communist propaganda before the whole world, and, On the other hand, there is an intense class struggle in Cambodia, to the point that Hun Sen had to resort last year to a state of emergency in the face of workers’ strikes. What will the peasants expelled from their lands and the textile workers who are hard-hit and repressed do if they take the revolutionary heritage back into their own hands? Will the Marxist analysis of society carried out by the Cambodian proletarians continue to make the Cambodian people understand where real independence lies in a country torn between US imperialism and Chinese imperialism? Where is the true independence when a subsidiary of EDF (French) manages electricity in Phnom Penh? Or where is it when the Australian Toll controls railroads and agriculture? During the period of Democratic Kampuchea, were not their children the ones who took care of the electrical installations? Today, our imperialists will tell us without a doubt that they are occupied because they have the “savoir faire”. Cambodians have had to forget how electricity works …
The imperialist tribunal has not only condemned the old resistance “Khmer Rouge” but has also announced projects whose objective is the confiscation of the memory of the people of Cambodia in order to direct it towards the path of submission: the establishment of a day national memorial service and the construction in Phnom Penh of a commemorative monument in honor of the victims of forced evacuations as well as a ridiculous “peace learning center” (or how to teach “peace” to the people to maintain the monopoly of the violence. Let us hope that the Cambodian people, inheritors of a long tradition of fighting against colonialism since the 19th century, will not allow their exploiters of their land and their children to dictate for a long time their history and their future. As for the internationalist communists, they must celebrate April 17 as the day of the victory of a heroic people over imperialism.
Abel Kelen, April 17, 2015