CMAC official lashes out at US over row with Chinese embassy

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A deminer works with an unexploded bomb. Source: CMAC

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre has lashed out at the United States for comments made on Facebook accusing China of supporting Pol Pot’s regime from 1975 to 1979.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said in an online post Sunday that the US helped Marshal Lon Nol stage a coup d’état in the 1970s.

“Do not make Cambodians suffer any longer,” Mr Ratana said. “Cambodians have enough intelligence and memory to understand the facts.”

According to the US embassy last week, there was no evidence that the US supported Marshal Nol’s rise to power.

“There is no substantiated evidence that the US was involved in a coup which brought Lon Nol to power,” the embassy said in its post last week. “Instead, there is a lot of evidence showing that the Chinese government actively supported the Khmer Rouge regime.”

Chinese embassy staffers did not comment on the matter yesterday, but on Friday the embassy said the US was mainly responsible for Cambodia’s decades of civil war.

“Recently, an embassy of a powerful country in Cambodia said publicly that it was not involved in the coup led by Lon Nol in the 1970s,” the embassy said. “In fact, the coup that plunged Cambodia into years of war was not involved with the US, but the CIA.”

The US embassy declined to comment yesterday. However, US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said on Sunday that the US has been working to address its war legacy.

“The US has addressed its war legacy by long-standing and substantial efforts for humanitarian demining and recovering unexploded ordnance,” Mr Zwartjes said.

These include the removal of hundreds of thousands of Chinese-made mines, which have injured and killed people for decades.”

Mr Ratana said four to five million bombs produced in Europe, China, Russia and the US were dropped in Cambodia.

He added that US President Richard Nixon’s administration dropped millions of bombs on Cambodia during the height of the Vietnam War from 1965 to about 1973.

“The blood and tears of Khmer children and the separation of families still linger in the forests,” Mr Ratana said. “Do not think that this nation is ignorant and unaware.”

“We should join hands together to accept the reality and cooperate to heal wounds and suffering,” he added. “It is in order to preserve peace and the future. It is also a way to avoid history from repeating itself.”

Sambo Manara, a historian at Pannasatra University, yesterday said that the US and other countries were involved in plunging Cambodia into decades of civil war.

“I can’t say which country is better than theother – they were all involved in the events that led to the civil war,” Mr Manara said, noting that the Cambodian civil war erupted during the US war against North Vietnam. “Powerful countries should remember that Cambodia was a battlefield for them to gain political influence.”

Mr Manara noted US support for Marshal Nol was not quite apparent at first. However, he said that the US gave support to the Lon Nol regime by providing weapons after the coup.

“We ask who did Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam get their weapons from?” he added. “It was clear that all three countries took weapons from powerful countries, especially the US.

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