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Vietnam's efforts to free Cambodia forever remembered
Son Nguyen 17:44, 2024/01/06
Vietnamese military officials, soldiers and experts spent 10 years helping Cambodians settle and rebuild.

The help provided by the Vietnamese armed forces and people will forever remain in the hearts of Cambodians, an event commemorating the 45th anniversary of the victory in the Southwest Border Defense War heard on January 6.

Chea Kim Tha, Cambodian Ambassador to Vietnam, said she and other Cambodians would always remember the Vietnamese people's great contributions to the country's development.

"Their efforts were among the factors that proved the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia, in which we are willing to help each other overcome challenges for further growth and improve our bilateral relations in all fields," she said.

Faced with abductions and killings of Vietnamese in the southwestern border region and attacks on Vietnamese territory in late April 1977, Vietnamese volunteer forces launched an offensive against Pol Pot's forces in Cambodia, liberating the capital Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979. In the decade since, the Vietnamese Government, armed forces and experts have helped Cambodians rebuild and develop their country.

Speaking to The Hanoi Times, Khuat Duy Tien, former commander of Corps 3 who fought in Cambodia, recalled his memories of the war and the fierce battles.

"Pop Pot's forces used guerrilla tactics and caused us so much trouble. They would hide during the day and attack our camps at night," he said.

"We struggled with their methods until we figured out how to deal with guerrilla warfare by sending small groups of soldiers to trap the enemy outside the camps," he said.

Artists performed at the ceremony on January 6.  Photo: Hanoi Union of Friendship Organisations

As a soldier who fought in the southwest border war, Major Colonel Le Cuong said those were unforgettable days in his life.

"We marched through villages where there were no survivors and those who suffered the most painful death in mass graves. And we can't forget the images of people staggering back to their homes, hungry and exhausted," he said.

He also recalled the hunger and thirst he endured while pursuing Pol Pot's army, and the rainforest diseases that plagued his unit.

"All these difficulties were nothing compared to our will and determination to stand with the Cambodian people to overcome hardship and rebuild their country," Cuong said.

Former Cambodian specialist Chu Van Chuan was one of the first 14 Vietnamese sent to the northwestern province of Siem Reap in January 1979. Since then, the number of Vietnamese experts working in Cambodia has risen to 100.

"We helped displaced people return to their homes and settle down, provided security, set up their local governments and continued to hunt down the remnants of Pol Pot's forces," he said.

After the victory, the Vietnamese military and other professionals stayed in Cambodia until 1989 to help the Cambodian people rebuild their lives, promote socio-economic growth and improve their living conditions.

Vietnam-Cambodia long friendship

 Vice Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Nguyen Van Phong, 6th from left, and former military officers who fought in Cambodia reunite at the ceremony. Photo: Hanoi Union of Friendship Organisations

Although born in peace, Chhon Sreyni, a Cambodian student at Huu Nghi (Friendship) School in Hanoi's Son Tay District, said she and other young Cambodians had grown up grateful for the contribution of Vietnamese and Cambodian people and soldiers to their independence.

She said the younger Cambodians would strive to study and educate themselves to strengthen ties between Vietnam and Cambodia and between Hanoi and Phnom Penh.

President of the Hanoi Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Associations Le Kim Anh said over the past 45 years, the efforts of the Vietnamese have always been in the hearts of the Cambodian people, proving the long-standing friendship and brotherhood between the two nations

"The victory of the Southeast Border Defense War against the tyranny and genocidal authority of Pol Pot reaffirms the will of the Vietnamese people for national independence and self-reliance while honoring and respecting the sovereignty of other nations," Anh sâid.

We would like to pay our respect and honor to the heroic Vietnamese mothers, invalids and families of martyrs, ex-soldiers and specialists who have made great achievements during the 10 years of international service."

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