A performance depicting the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime was held on December 2, marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation, which was known by its French acronym FUNSK.
Named Blood and Tears, the performance – held in Snuol district, Kratie province – depicted the years of the Khmer Rouge regime prior to the founding of the FUNSK in 1978, with actors recreating massacres in moving scenes portraying stabbings, suffocations and beatings.
“The performance reminds the Cambodian people about the tragedy conducted by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime,” said Pankhem Bunthan, adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“If there was no December 2, there would have been no January 7,” he continued, referring to the toppling of the Khmer Rouge regime by a military coalition that included FUNSK forces in January 1979.
“The Cambodian people will always remember the heroic sacrifices of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation on December 2,” he said.
Speaking to the 20,000 in attendance that included students, government officials and members of the armed forces, National Assembly president Heng Samrin said the 40th anniversary served as a reminder of the heroism of FUNSK and Vietnamese troops who overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime.
“The genocidal regime of Pol Pot transformed Cambodia into a prison without walls, a hell, a brutal killing field. The whole national structure was completely destroyed. But on December 2, 1978, Cambodia began to move away from destruction and pain, and this date serves as an important historical reminder for Cambodia to avoid falling into this hell once again,” he said.
Heng Samrin also emphasised the role of the Cambodia People’s Party in keeping peace and stability in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, citing their instrumental role in reconstructing the country.
“We built Cambodia from scratch, with one hand building the country and another hand preventing the reoccurrence of the genocide regime,” he said.
The Khmer Rouge ruled Democratic Kampuchea between 1975 and 1979 under a brutal Pol Pot led regime, with the death toll estimated at between 1.5 and three million people. During the period, Cambodians were slaughtered on a large scale, forcefully displaced, subjected to forced labour, and deprived of basic necessities like food and medicine.
A history lecturer at Pannasastra University, Sambo Mannara, also heralded the impact of the December 2 movement, saying that the current government must continue to strengthen political institutions and preserve the memory of the period to prevent a recurrence of similar crimes in the future.
“They were heroic in liberating the Cambodian people from death and destitution. As a country, we value all the efforts and struggles . . . But we must learn and make an effort by ourselves to solidify our future, and prevent all such crimes from happening again,” he said.
Also marking the anniversary was the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), who organised a 40km walk from Memot district, Tbong Khmum province to the December 2 monument in Snuol district, Kratie province.