Photographer's Note


The Vietnamese in Cambodia shared the ups and downs of the country with native people but whenever the Cambodian needed an enemy to shift the hate, they always inflicted punishment upon the Vietnamese. This situation cemented the relationship of Vietnamese community so they can quickly spread the news of danger before it comes.

“The Cambodians have massacred all the Cochinchinese [Vietnamese] that they could find in the country,” wrote a French missionary in 1751. The new Khmer king, Ang Snguon, “gave orders or permission to massacre all the Cochinchinese who could be found, and this order was executed very precisely and very cruelly; this massacre lasted a month and a half; only about twenty women and children were spared; no one knows the number of deaths, and it would be very difficult to find out, for the massacre was general from Cahon to Ha Tien, with the exception of a few who were able to escape through the forest or fled by sea.” No survivors were found of the numerous Vietnamese residents in Cambodia. Nor do other records of that pogrom survive.

In the 1960s, as US forces intervened in neighboring Vietnam, Sihanouk tried to keep Cambodia neutral. His ouster in 1970 brought the contending armies crashing over the border. Cambodia became a theatre of the Vietnam War. ‘That damned Air Force can do more about hitting Cambodia with their bombing attacks,’ President Nixon told Henry Kissinger on December 9th, 1970; ‘I want a plan where every goddamn thing that can fly goes into Cambodia and hits every target that is open … I want them to use the big planes, the small planes, everything they can.’ Kissinger ordered ‘a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.’ By 1973, half a million tons of US bombs had killed 100,000 peasants and devastated the countryside. The destruction helped Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge guerrillas recruit vengeful survivors, whom they misled, claiming that ‘The killing birds came from Phnom Penh.’ The guerrilla army expanded, and shelled the capital, diverting history against the innocent.

The Khmer Rouge won the war in April 1975, and emptied Cambodia’s cities into the countryside, persecuting and murdering the deported townspeople [see map of prisons and burial sites] . Pol Pot’s new communist regime, called Democratic Kampuchea (DK), also committed genocide against the Khmer Buddhist monkhood, the traditional bearers of cultural literacy. DK expelled 150,000 Vietnamese residents from Cambodia, killed all 10,000 who stayed.”

(Ben Kiernan Yale University’s Professor)


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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