Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

Pol Pot alive and fighting

First Published: The Call, Vol. 8, No. 18, May 7, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Intense fighting characterizes the current situation in Indochina four months after Vietnam launched its blitzkrieg invasion of Kampuchea (Cambodia). Below are some of the main military and political developments that have taken place recently in the area:

Pol Pot, the Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea, is alive and well inside the country, and is continuing to lead the resistance against the Vietnamese invaders. This is in spite of rumors spread by Vietnamese sources that the Kampuchean leader had fled to Thailand and then to China.

Radio Democratic Kampuchea reported April 10: “The allegation that leaders of the Kampuchean people have fled to Thailand is a lie fabricated by the Le Duan-Pharn Van Dong clique of Vietnam to mislead public opinion.”

Not only have the Vietnamese claimed that Pol Pot fled the country, but they also declared “final victory” over the resistance forces after plunging more than 30,000 additional troops into a “mopping-up” operation. Wilfred Burchett, Hanoi’s main journalistic pipeline to world media, wrote last week that the Kampuchean puppets in Phnom Penh were celebrating “the final crushing a few days ago of the Pol Pot regime.” Burchett even offered purported details of the “last days of the Pol Pot forces” and declared that the Kampuchean leaders had fled to China.

All this makes good propaganda for the Vietnamese side, but it doesn’t explain how continued battles are taking place in many parts of the country, especially near the Thai-Kampuchea border. Nor does it explain why 150,000 Vietnamese troops must hang on in occupation of the country.


Democratic Kampuchea’s UN Ambassador Thiounn Prasith, in an interview with The Forge of Canada said, “The government of Democratic Kampuchea has formally denied the rumors spread by Vietnam claiming that Prime Minister Pol Pot has fled and that the headquarters of the resistance has been destroyed. ”

While Vietnam has not “wiped out” the resistance by any stretch of the imagination, its latest offensive has succeeded in bringing some key points in western Kampuchea under its control at least temporarily. But thousands of Kampucheans – according to some reports as many as 50.000 – have streamed out of these areas into Thailand, rather than face rule under Vietnamese occupation.

Quite a few, however, have crossed back into Kampuchea at other points to continue fighting the Vietnamese. “The remarkable thing is that the hard core of the Pol Pot people have held together,” an AP dispatch quoted a Bangkok observer as saying.

Even with its beefed-up military force, Vietnam has had to rely more heavily than ever on the USSR and Cuba in its efforts to stop the Kampuchean resistance. Soviet aircraft and personnel carriers are now shouldering the principal load of transporting Vietnamese troops from one flashpoint of the battle to another.

The Kampuchean Revolutionary Army has reported killing Cubans in several different battlefield engagements and other reports have indicated that several Russians and Cubans have been taken prisoner. A Kampuchean refugee in Thailand told Agence France-Presse that there are three to five Soviet advisors at each Vietnamese division’s staff headquarters. “The Cubans are fighting in Vietnamese tank units and as aircraft pilots.” he said.

Making use of the present military situation, the Soviet Union has at last stationed naval ships .in its long sought Vietnamese port, the American-built base at Cam Ranh Bay: Several Soviet vessels have called at the huge facility in recent weeks. The strategic location of this naval base gives the USSR a powerful pivot point from which to carry out operations in both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.

Desertion from the Vietnamese army is growing increasingly widespread as its officers and troops become war-weary and as the quick victories their leaders promised fail to materialize. In one such incident, four Vietnamese officers crossed the Thai-Kampuchean border on April 17 and surrendered to authorities. According to Thai newspapers, they said that they had been sent to attack Poi Pet and other points in Battambang province, but no longer wanted to fight in the war of aggression.

In the international arena, the Vietnamese-Soviet efforts to isolate China and Kampuchea suffered an important setback at a recent conference in Zambia dedicated to supporting the Southern African liberation movements. Soviet, Vietnamese and Cuban delegates tried to turn the attention of the conference away from Africa and get a resolution passed attacking China for its action in Vietnam.

The delegates rejected this, with one representative taking the floor to insist that it was Vietnam which should be condemned for its invasion of Kampuchea. Other efforts by pro-Soviet forces to attack China for having “sided with racist regimes” drew no support, with the Zambian delegation going so far as to insist that no attack on China would be allowed on Zambian soil.

On the Vietnam-China front, negotiations got underway for the first time since China was forced to deliver a three week military counter-strike in February to stop Vietnamese border incursions. Little progress has been made, however.

Several good new resource materials are available for those interested in studying the Indochina picture further. One is the book Kampuchea Will Win, written by Canadian communists who were the last visitors to Phnom Penh before it fell to the Vietnamese. It is available for $2.50 from Norman Bethune Bookstore, 1951 Rosemont Blvd., Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Another is “China and Indochina.” available for $1.00 from the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association. 41 Union Sq. West, Room 1228. N.Y., N.Y. 10003.

Still another is the first complete English translation of the “Black Paper” published by the Kampuchean government documenting the history of Vietnam’s aggression. It is available for $2.95 from G.K. RAM, P.O. Box 5857, Grand Central Station. N.Y., N.Y. 10017.