First Published: The Forge, Vol. 4, No. 2, January 19, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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“You are visiting our country when we are at war. We are grateful for your support and happy to show you our accomplishments.”
With these words, Deputy Premier Ieng Sary of Democratic Kampuchea greeted us – the first Canadians ever to visit this socialist country – five members of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist).
He was well aware, as we were, that 100,000 Soviet-backed Vietnamese troops were massing at the borders. Before our trip was over, they would begin their all-out invasion. Today, their claws are extended over broad sections of the country.
But the warmth we felt talking to this veteran of 15 years of guerilla warfare as he hugged us or laughed, and the confidence he expressed as he calmly but firmly detailed his people’s resistance to aggression are the traits we found among all Kampucheans. Premier Pol Pot reflected the same determination when we had the honour to meet him.
From the day of our arrival in Phnom Penh December 23 until we left seven days later, even though the situation was difficult, we were given every opportunity to travel and see the country.
On our 1000 km voyage through six provinces in the north, central and southeast regions, we were able to stop anywhere we wanted, to ask questions. We saw with our own eyes that the stories of supposed massacres and starvation spread by the Western media were just lies and slanders designed to justify the aggression against Kampuchea.
We could feel the pulse of the people, eager and determined to rebuild their land: new homes spring up alongside B-52 bomb craters. No bloated bellies so common among starving third-world children, no signs of “forced labour” in the fields. Instead, we saw a healthy people, young and old, who gave full support to the government, the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) and its leader, Pol Pot.
The party members we met – the military leaders at the front or the heads of agricultural cooperatives – were poor peasants, rooted among their people.
But today, the Vietnamese invading army and Soviet tanks have trampled over many of the rice fields and homes we saw just a few weeks ago in Kampuchea. The Ang Knor cooperative we visited in the southeastern Takeo province, razed to the ground during the 1977 Vietnamese incursion, is once again being pillaged. A heroic people who emerged victorious three years ago from the most barbarous imperialist war in history once again are waging a guerilla war against new aggressors.
Why was Vietnam attacking Kampuchea now, we asked throughout our trip? Our Kampuchean friends explained that the Vietnamese people always were their comrades-in-arms against US imperialism. But the chauvinist leaders of Vietnam had long nurtured ambitions of annexing Kampuchea, along with Laos, into their “indochinese Federation.”
Throughout the ’50s, they blocked attempts by Kampuchean revolutionaries to create their own, independent communist party. They arrogantly told the Kampucheans they could never win their liberation war by themselves, and when Hanoi signed the 1973 Paris peace accords with the US they said the Kampucheans should lay down their arms and wait for Hanoi to liberate the entire region!
Hanoi’s leaders desperately hitched their fortunes to the Soviet Union. With the Vietnam-Soviet military treaty signed in November, the Soviets gave Hanoi the backing they needed to overrun socialist Kampuchea. The Soviets were desperate to remove this obstacle to their plans for domination in Southeast Asia.
They resorted to the brutal, naked aggression of fascism – “Hitlerite blitzkreig” as it was aptly denounced in the United Nations – to topple a sovereign, legitimate government.
But now, internationally, they find themselves isolated and condemned by many countries. And in Kampuchea, they are engulfed in the same swamp of peoples’ war that brought the US to its knees.
We left Kampuchea in the midst of the Vietnam-Soviet invasion. But we had seen how the Kampuchean people were well-prepared by the CPK to wage a successful peoples’ war. As we toured the country, all five of us recalled the many protests against the Vietnam war that we and so many Canadians participated in in Canada. Now that we have seen how Hanoi’s leaders have betrayed their own people’s cause, we too share the Kampucheans’ anger at them.
We have produced this supplement to fell the truth about what we saw and heard in Kampuchea, [MIA Note: not reproduced here] to help all anti-imperialists and revolutionaries mobilize the broadest possible support for this brave and indomitable people.