What Happened on January 7th, 1979

Today is Jan 7th, 2018; which is the 39th anniversary of the victory against Pol Pot. Victory over Genocide Day is a public holiday in Cambodia.

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To understand what happened on January 7th, 1979 we need to quickly review some history.

Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge and took part in the Cambodian genocide. When his forces, the Khmer Rouge, captured Phnom Penh on April 17th, 1975 he declared himself the leader of Cambodia.

On December 25th, 1978, Vietnam and the KUFNS forces launched an invasion against the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge directly challenged Vietnam’s military, but this tactic resulted in the loss of half of their forces within two weeks. The heavy defeats made most of the leadership evacuate towards the western regions of the country.

On January 7th, 1979, the Vietnamese Army and members of the KUFNS entered Phnom Penh. The next day, a new government, known as the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK), was put in place. 10 years later, the Vietnamese finally returned home but their over-extended stay grew resentment among many Khmer people.

Remember, an estimated 1.5 – 3 million Khmers were killed between 1975 – 1979. This completely changed the countries demographics. Nowadays, 68% of the population is under 30 years old.

On this day we need to reflect on the painful past hopefully, to never let such an atrocity occur again.

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