Victory gained by blood
As soon as Pol Pot force took power in Cambodia in April 1975, they set their face against the Cambodian people and their revolutionary cause, killing millions of people, destroying all social bases and driving Cambodia toward genocidal disaster.
More seriously, they trampled on the good values of the traditional solidarity and friendship between the two countries and the two peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia, by waging a bloody war, seriously encroaching upon Vietnam's territory, and causing heinous crimes against the Vietnamese people.
Responding to the urgent call of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation and the Cambodian people and implementing President Ho Chi Minh's thought of "Helping our friends is helping ourselves," the Vietnamese Party, State, military and people stood alongside with the Cambodian armed forces and people to crush down on the Pol Pot regime while exercising their legitimate right to self-defense to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Fatherland and the people’s lives and properties.
Talking with reporters of the People's Army Newspaper, former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Military Culture Journal Senior Colonel Nguyen Huu Duc said that Vietnam's assistance was a righteous act in both moral and legal terms. "On the one hand, we defended ourselves. On the other hand, we responded to the call for help of the Cambodian people," Duc said.
Although decades have passed by, memories of the time carrying out international service in Cambodia remain fresh in the heart of Senior Colonel Nguyen Huu Duc, a former soldier of Army Corps 3. That year, Duc and his young comrades, who were only eighteen or twenty, left their families and freshly-liberated villages to conduct noble missions of self-defending the Fatherland and saving the Cambodian people from the genocidal disaster, reviving and developing the Cambodian nation, and building a peaceful life.
In that righteous war, many Duc's comrades sacrificed their lives or were wounded. Colonel Duc said that the victory of the Cambodian revolution on January 7, 1979 was gained by blood, tears and youth of many compatriots, officers and soldiers of the Vietnamese and Cambodian militaries.
Values of sacrifices
Senior Colonel Nguyen Huu Duc recalled that when the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers arrived in Cambodia, they were warmly welcomed by people from all over the country. Wherever the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers set their foot on, they helped the Cambodian people build and consolidate the government and armed forces. Despite numerous difficulties and shortages, the Vietnamese troops gave wholehearted assistance to the Cambodian troops and people.
The former volunteer soldier added that the Vietnamese troops strictly adhered to the spirit of not arbitrarily taking anything from the Cambodian people. In the morning, the soldiers read aloud nine oaths of the Vietnamese volunteers in Cambodia. While staying in Cambodia to trace and destroy remaining Pol Pot troops, the Vietnamese soldiers did not hesitate to share their rice, dry food, condensed milk, and medicines with hungry and ragged Cambodian people who returned home after war.
Senior Colonel Nguyen Huu Duc said that he felt honored and proud when the Cambodian people called Vietnamese volunteer soldiers "the Buddha's army" who fought side by side with them in the most difficult times to end the most painful and darkest page of Angkor’s history.
Recalling the time when his unit was stationed in Siem Reap, Battambang or Pursat, Duc said that local people used to give the unit's troops fruits and fresh home-grown vegetables. These simple things demonstrated the Cambodian people's sincere sentiment for the "Buddha's army."
Returning to the old battlefield in Cambodia twice, Senior Colonel Nguyen Huu Duc could not help but be surprised at the changes in the once war-torn country. Seeing the country revive and develop strongly and stably and its people enjoy a peaceful life, the former volunteer soldier happily thought that the sacrifices of former generations have paid off.
Another happy news was that after years of trial with hundreds of thousands of documents and evidence collected, on November 16, 2018, the United Nations-backed international tribunal of two former Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia on genocide charges officially ruled that the Khmer Rouge committed genocide against humanity. According to Colonel Duc, although decades have passed, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)’s conviction has returned justice to the innocent victims massacred by the Pol Pot force and once again affirmed the impartial and sincere support of the Vietnamese Party, State, military and people for Cambodia.
(To be continued)
Translated by Tran Hoai
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