The Lon Nol Khmer(Cambodia) Civil War 1970-1974

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The Lon Nol Khmer(Cambodia) War 1970-1974

A. The Lon Nol Cambodia ‘s Chronologic Historic Collections

LonNol_Small.jpg (10825 bytes)

1. 1970

1)Cambodian coup of 1970(The 1970 Coup)

Sihanouk later claimed that the 1970 coup against him was the result of an alliance between his longstanding enemy, exiled politician Son Ngoc Thanh and Sirik Matak, with CIA support and planning.[7] It seems likely that Lon Nol initially intended to strengthen his position against the North Vietnamese with the ultimate aim of preventing their troops (and those of the Viet Cong) from operating within Cambodian borders, and wished to apply pressure on Sihanouk to achieve this.[8] However, events rapidly developed far beyond the original plan, and with the encouragement of Sirik Matak – who wished to see Sihanouk deposed as Head of State – Lon Nol was ultimately to engineer Sihanouk’s removal.

 

The three men behind the coup of 1970. From left to right, Sirik Matak, Lon Nol, and In Tam.

Sirik Matak’s power increased substantially after Lon Nol became Prime Minister in August 1969. Appointed Lon Nol’s deputy, he proceeded to organise a series of economic denationalisation and deregulation measures in opposition to Sihanouk’s previous policy of state control of import and export, banking, and production of pharmaceuticals and alcohol.[4] Sirik Matak even visited Hanoi secretly to find out what could be done to remove Vietnamese troops from Cambodian soil. He was infuriated when he was shown documents signed by Sihanouk agreeing to the establishment of Vietnamese bases and the transport of Vietnamese supplies through Cambodian ports.[5] On March 12, 1970, while Sihanouk was on a trip abroad, Sirik Matak canceled Sihanouk’s trade agreements and Lon Nol demanded that all North Vietnamese and NLF troops leave Cambodia by dawn on March 15 (the deadline passed without any response from the Vietnamese).[6] 2.March 1970

(1)March ,10th,1972

While Sihanouk was abroad during March 1970, there were anti-Vietnamese riots in Phnom Penh. Lon Nol became the first and only President of Cambodia in 1970. Akkek Sena Tekka Kong Tok Lon Nol or Lok Sena Bra Mok Lon Nol (President Lon Nol)

(2)On 12 March 1970

Lon Nol and Sirik Matak closed the port of Sihanoukville, through which weapons were being smuggled to the Viet Cong, to the North Vietnamese and issued an ultimatum: all PAVN (North Vietnamese) and NLF (Viet Cong) forces were to withdraw from Cambodian soil within 72 hours or face military action.[9]

Lon Nol initially refused to countenance Sihanouk being deposed as Head of State; to force his hand, Sirik Matak played him a tape-recorded press conference from Paris, in which Sihanouk blamed them for the unrest and threatened to execute them both on his return to Phnom Penh.[10] However, the Prime Minister remained uncertain as to whether to instigate a vote in the National Assembly.

On March 12, 1970, while Sihanouk was on a trip abroad, Sirik Matak canceled Sihanouk’s trade agreements .and  On the night of 17 March, Sirik Matak, accompanied by three army officers, went to the Prime Ministers’s residence and compelled a weeping Lon Nol to sign the necessary documents at gunpoint.[11]

(4) March,15th 1970

Lon Nol demanded that all North Vietnamese and NLF troops leave Cambodia by dawn on March 15 (the deadline passed without any response from the Vietnamese).[

(5) March,17th.1970

March,18th.1970

A vote was taken in the National Assembly on 18 March in which Sihanouk was stripped of his power. Lon Nol assumed the powers of the Head of State on an emergency basis.

On March 18, Sirik Matak assisted Lon Nol in organising a vote of the National Assembly to depose Sihanouk as head of state. The pretext was given by a series of anti-Vietnamese riots – likely encouraged by the Prime Minister and his deputy – in front of the North Vietnamese embassy. Foreign media subsequently suggested that Sirik Matak, who continued as Lon Nol’s deputy in the new government, was the real organisational force behind the coup;[7] it was claimed that in order to finally convince Lon Nol, Sirik Matak had played him a tape-recorded press conference from Paris, in which Sihanouk threatened to execute them both on his return to Phnom Penh.[8] It was even reported that Sirik Matak compelled Lon Nol at gunpoint to commit to deposing Sihanouk

(6) March ,28th and 29th,1970

On 28 and 29 March there were large-scale popular demonstrations in favour of Sihanouk in several provincial cities, but Lon Nol’s forces suppressed them, causing several hundred deaths.[12]

(7) April,1972

In the meantime, the Cambodian Campaign of April 1970, in which US and South Vietnamese forces entered Cambodian territory in pursuit of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, had irrevocably involved Lon Nol’s regime in the Second Indochina War.

(8)October ,1972

The Khmer Republic was formally declared that October, and Sihanouk – who had formed a government-in-exile, the GRUNK, incorporating the Khmer Rouge communists – was condemned to death in absentia.  2.1971

3.1973

4.1974

march 1974

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March 1974, Cambodia – President Lon Nol

March 1974, Cambodia — President Lon Nol. Since the Lon Nol coup in March 1970, two groups fought for control of Cambodia, the Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK), supported by the USA and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), pitted against the Cambodian People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (composed of Maoist nationalists and Khmer Rouge communists), supported by North Vietnam and the Vietcong.

april

mei

1975

1)  april,1975

The Khmer Rouge force captured Phnom Penh in April 1975; then evacuated the city and began a radical revolutionary experiment. Under Pol Pot leadership, the Khmer Rouge are responsible for the death of over a million and a half Cambodians, and the near total destruction of Cambodia’s social, economic, and cultural foundations.polpot2_Small.jpg (6048 bytes)

After the Vietnamese invasion in 1978, Pol Pot and the remnants of the Khmer Rouge forces escaped to the Thai border where, with support from ASEAN and China, they set up resistance against the Vietnamese troops and the Vietnamese backed government in Phnom Penh. Throughout the 1980s and the first half of 1990s, Pol Pot continued to exercise leadership over the Khmer Rouge guerrilla forces. He is believed to play a crucial role in influencing the movement to participate in the negotiation leading to the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement and also to the subsequently boycott of the peace process and the elections supervised by UNTAC.

2)By 1975, the government was eventually reduced to holding little more than Phnom Penh. The FANK had run out of ammunition. Lon Nol was increasingly dependent on the advice of soothsayers and Buddhist mystics: at one point during a Khmer Rouge assault on Phnom Penh, he sprinkled a circular line of consecrated sand in order to defend the city.

2)April,1st.1975

Finally, on April 1, 1975, he resigned and fled the country into exile, as the Khmer Rouge had vowed to execute him.

3)Exile

(a)The first priority of the Khmer Rouge after conquering Cambodia and overthrowing the Khmer Republic was to execute all its leaders and high officials without delay,[13] a fate that Lon Nol escaped.

Lon Nol fled from Cambodia to Indonesia and then to the United States;

first settling in Hawaii ,Oahu became home for ex-Cambodian leader’s exile

 
Exiled Cambodian President Lon Nol lived on O’ahu from 1975 to 1979
 
1979   moving to California.  in Fullerton, California.

He died on November 17, 1985.

B.The Biography Of Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Siri Matak

1.Lon Nol

LonNol_Small.jpg (10825 bytes)Lon Nol was born on November 13, 1913 in Prey Veng province. He was a long time social servant first under the French colonial administration and later under Sihanouk. Because of his loyalty to Sihanouk, Lon Nol was assigned various important portfolios within the Sihanouk regime, including chief of police, governor, command-in-chief and minister of defense and prime minister twice from 1966 to 1967 and again in 1969.

In 1970, as Prince Sihanouk’s hold on power began to slip, Lon Nol with hesitation, collaborated with Prince Sisovath Sirik Matak to overthrow Sihanouk in a coup d’etat, abolishing the monarchy and declaring Cambodia a republic with himself as the president. Lon Nol proved to be an incompetent leader who made decisions based on mystical beliefs rather sound judgment when faced with stiff challenges from Vietnamese forces and Khmer Rouge. His government was ripe with corruption. In 1971, Lon Nol suffered a serious stroke. His regime was sustained by massive US military assistance and a long-term bombing campaign. He went into exile in Hawaii just days before the Khmer Rouge soldiers entered Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. Lon Nol lived there until 1979 and then moved to California where he died in November, 1985.

 
 
Lon Nol

In office
March 10, 1972 – April 1, 1975
Preceded by Cheng Heng
Succeeded by Saukam Khoy

In office
October 25, 1966 – May 1, 1967
August 14, 1969 – March 11, 1972
Preceded by Norodom Kantol
Samdech Penn Nouth
Succeeded by Son Sann
Sisowath Sirik Matak
Personal details
Born November 13, 1913(1913-11-13)
Prey Veng, Cambodia
Died November 17, 1985(1985-11-17) (aged 72)
Fullerton, California,
United States
This article contains Khmer text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Khmer script.

Lon Nol (Khmer: លន់ នល់; ​November 13, 1913 – November 17, 1985) was a Cambodian politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice, as well as serving repeatedly as Defense Minister. He led a military coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk and became self-proclaimed President of the newly-created Khmer Republic.

Contents

 

 Biography

Early life

Nol was born in Prey Veng Province on November 13, 1913, to a family of mixed ChineseKhmer descent.[1][2] His father, Lon Hin, served as a district chief in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom, after making a name for himself ‘pacifying’ bandit groups in Prey Veng.[3] Nol was educated in the relatively privileged surroundings of the Lycée Chasseloup-Laubat in Saigon, followed by the Cambodian Royal Military Academy.

Employment in the colonial government

Nol found employment with the French colonial civil service in 1937. He became a magistrate, and soon proved himself as an efficient enforcer of French rule against a series of anti-colonial disturbances in 1939.[3] By 1946, he had risen to the post of Governor of Kratie Province. He became an associate of King Norodom Sihanouk, and by the late 1940s, when he set up a right-wing, monarchist, pro-independence political group, was becoming increasingly involved in the developing Cambodian political scene. Joining the army in 1952, he carried out military operations against the Viet Minh.

After independence, Nol’s nationalist Khmer Renovation party (along with small right-wing parties headed by Sam Sary and Dap Chhuon) became the core of the Sangkum, the organisation set up by Sihanouk to fight the 1955 elections.[4]

In the administration of Sihanouk, 1955–70

Nol was appointed the Army Chief of Staff in 1955, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces in 1960, as well as serving as Defence Minister. At the time, he was a trusted supporter of Sihanouk, his police being instrumental in the suppression of the small, clandestine communist movement in Cambodia. He was appointed deputy Premier in 1963. While Sihanouk – in an attempt to distance his country from the effects of the Second Indochina War – was pursuing a foreign policy of “extreme neutrality”, which involved association with China and toleration of North Vietnamese activity on the eastern borders, Nol remained friendly towards the United States, and indicated that he regretted the ending of US aid after 1963.[5]

The 1966 parliamentary elections represented a major shift in the balance of power towards Lon Nol and the rightist elements of the Sangkum, as conservative and right-wing candidates were overwhelmingly elected.[6] Lon Nol became Prime Minister, and the following year his troops were used by Sihanouk to carry out a savage repression of a leftist-inspired revolt, the Samlaut Uprising, in Battambang Province.

Nol was injured in a car crash later in 1967, and temporarily retired from politics. In 1968, however, he returned as Minister of Defence and in 1969 became Prime Minister a second time, appointing the vocally anti-Sihanouk, and pro-US politician Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak as his deputy.

The 1970 Coup

 

Sihanouk later claimed that the 1970 coup against him was the result of an alliance between his longstanding enemy, exiled politician Son Ngoc Thanh and Sirik Matak, with CIA support and planning.[7] It seems likely that Lon Nol initially intended to strengthen his position against the North Vietnamese with the ultimate aim of preventing their troops (and those of the Viet Cong) from operating within Cambodian borders, and wished to apply pressure on Sihanouk to achieve this.[8] However, events rapidly developed far beyond the original plan, and with the encouragement of Sirik Matak – who wished to see Sihanouk deposed as Head of State – Lon Nol was ultimately to engineer Sihanouk’s removal.

While Sihanouk was abroad during March 1970, there were anti-Vietnamese riots in Phnom Penh. On 12 March, Lon Nol and Sirik Matak closed the port of Sihanoukville, through which weapons were being smuggled to the Viet Cong, to the North Vietnamese and issued an ultimatum: all PAVN (North Vietnamese) and NLF (Viet Cong) forces were to withdraw from Cambodian soil within 72 hours or face military action.[9]

Lon Nol initially refused to countenance Sihanouk being deposed as Head of State; to force his hand, Sirik Matak played him a tape-recorded press conference from Paris, in which Sihanouk blamed them for the unrest and threatened to execute them both on his return to Phnom Penh.[10] However, the Prime Minister remained uncertain as to whether to instigate a vote in the National Assembly. On the night of 17 March, Sirik Matak, accompanied by three army officers, went to the Prime Ministers’s residence and compelled a weeping Lon Nol to sign the necessary documents at gunpoint.[11]

A vote was taken in the National Assembly on 18 March in which Sihanouk was stripped of his power. Lon Nol assumed the powers of the Head of State on an emergency basis. On 28 and 29 March there were large-scale popular demonstrations in favour of Sihanouk in several provincial cities, but Lon Nol’s forces suppressed them, causing several hundred deaths.[12] The Khmer Republic was formally declared that October, and Sihanouk – who had formed a government-in-exile, the GRUNK, incorporating the Khmer Rouge communists – was condemned to death in absentia. In the meantime, the Cambodian Campaign of April 1970, in which US and South Vietnamese forces entered Cambodian territory in pursuit of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, had irrevocably involved Lon Nol’s regime in the Second Indochina War.

Lon Nol became the first and only President of Cambodia in 1970. Akkek Sena Tekka Kong Tok Lon Nol or Lok Sena Bra Mok Lon Nol (President Lon Nol)

 The Khmer Republic and the Civil War

Flag of the Khmer Republic.

For more details on this topic, see Cambodian Civil War.

The Khmer Republic (1970–1975) was founded in order to do away with Cambodia’s widespread corruption and to restore Cambodia’s sovereignty in its eastern regions, occupied by Vietnamese communist insurgents as a result of Sihanouk’s “neutrality” policies. Despite its high aims, the republic proved disastrous both militarily and politically. Lon Nol’s health started to decline after he suffered a stroke in February 1971. His rule became increasingly erratic and authoritarian: he appointed himself Marshal (a title previously unknown in Cambodia) in April 1971, and in October suspended the National Assembly, stating he would “no longer play the game of democracy”. Backed by his forceful, ambitious younger brother Lon Non, Nol succeeded in reducing the influence of Sirik Matak, In Tam and the other coup leaders. He also insisted on directing many of the Khmer National Armed Forces (French: Forces Armées Nationales Khmères – FANK) operations personally.

In time Lon Nol’s regime became completely dependent upon large quantities of American aid that towards the end were not backed by the political and military resolve needed to effectively help the beleaguered republic.[13] By 1975, the government was eventually reduced to holding little more than Phnom Penh. The FANK had run out of ammunition. Lon Nol was increasingly dependent on the advice of soothsayers and Buddhist mystics: at one point during a Khmer Rouge assault on Phnom Penh, he sprinkled a circular line of consecrated sand in order to defend the city. Finally, on April 1, 1975, he resigned and fled the country into exile, as the Khmer Rouge had vowed to execute him.

Exile

The first priority of the Khmer Rouge after conquering Cambodia and overthrowing the Khmer Republic was to execute all its leaders and high officials without delay,[13] a fate that Lon Nol escaped.

Lon Nol fled from Cambodia to Indonesia and then to the United States; first settling in Hawaii and in 1979 in Fullerton, California. He died on November 17, 1985.

 Political views

Despite his actions in deposing Sihanouk, Nol was a firm believer in traditional Cambodian hierarchy: after Sihanouk had been removed he prostrated himself at the Queen Mother‘s feet in order to ask forgiveness.[14] He termed his ideology, a blend of chauvinist nationalism and mysticsm, as ‘Neo-Khmerism’: he expressed an ambition of reuniting the ethnic Khmers of Cambodia with the Khmer Krom of the Mekong Delta and the Khmer Surin of Thailand, projecting a state of “thirty million” Khmers by the year 2020.[15] Asking his followers to embrace the traditions of what he referred to as Mon-Khmer ‘holy warriors’ (yuthesel), he also encouraged them to refer to him as their “Black Papa”, a name referring to the dark skin considered to be the sign of an ‘authentic’ Khmer

2.

Sisowath Sirik Matak

 
 
 
Sisowath Sirik Matak
Prince of Cambodia
File:Sisowath-sirik-matak.jpg
Spouse Mechas Norodom Kethneari
Issue
3 sons, 3 daughters
Full name
Rajavong Sisowath Sirik Matak
House House of Sisowath
Father Sisowath Rottari
Mother Troeung Yoeum
Born 22 January 1914(1914-01-22)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Died 21 April 1975(1975-04-21) (aged 61)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Religion Buddhist

Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak (January 22, 1914 — April 21, 1975) was a member of the Cambodian royal family, the Varman dynasty.

Sirik Matak was mainly notable for his involvement in Cambodian politics, particularly for his involvement in the 1970 right-wing coup against his cousin, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, and for his subsequent establishment, along with Lon Nol, of the Khmer Republic.

Contents

 

Involvement in Politics in Cambodia

Sirik Matak was born in Phnom Penh, and was a member of the Sisowath branch of the Varman Dynasty, being the great-grandson of Sisowath of Cambodia. He was recruited into the colonial civil service in 1930.

Under the colonial French-imposed constitution, any member of the Norodom or Sisowath branches of the family could be selected as king, and Sirik Matak was therefore one of the possible contenders to the Cambodian throne. In 1941, after the death of King Sisowath Monivong, the French authorities selected Sirik Matak’s cousin Norodom Sihanouk to be King, believing him to be relatively pliant. Sihanouk later accused Sirik Matak of harbouring a deep resentment against him, stating that he “hated me from childhood days because he thought his uncle, Prince Sisowath Monireth, should have been placed on the throne instead of myself. He even had a notion that he himself should have been chosen”.[1]

After the Second World War, Sirik Matak became increasingly involved in Cambodian politics. As a part of the right-wing Khmer Renovation party headed by Lon Nol, he took part in the National Assembly elections in 1947, though the party failed to win any seats.[2] Sihanouk, then acting as Prime Minister, placed him in charge of defence in 1952,[3] formally appointing him Minister of Defence in the interim government set up after independence in 1954; Sihanouk’s Sangkum movement absorbed the Khmer Renovation Party prior to the Sangkum victory in the 1955 elections.

Despite the incorporation of much of the right-wing opposition into the Sangkum, Sirik Matak remained an implacable opponent of Sihanouk, and especially of the latter’s toleration of North Vietnamese activity within Cambodia’s borders. Throughout the 1960s, Sihanouk attempted to minimize Sirik Matak’s leverage on domestic politics by successively appointing him as Ambassador to China, the Philippines, and Japan.

Cambodian coup of 1970

The three men behind the coup of 1970. From left to right, Sirik Matak, Lon Nol, and In Tam.

Sirik Matak’s power increased substantially after Lon Nol became Prime Minister in August 1969. Appointed Lon Nol’s deputy, he proceeded to organise a series of economic denationalisation and deregulation measures in opposition to Sihanouk’s previous policy of state control of import and export, banking, and production of pharmaceuticals and alcohol.[4] Sirik Matak even visited Hanoi secretly to find out what could be done to remove Vietnamese troops from Cambodian soil. He was infuriated when he was shown documents signed by Sihanouk agreeing to the establishment of Vietnamese bases and the transport of Vietnamese supplies through Cambodian ports.[5] On March 12, 1970, while Sihanouk was on a trip abroad, Sirik Matak canceled Sihanouk’s trade agreements and Lon Nol demanded that all North Vietnamese and NLF troops leave Cambodia by dawn on March 15 (the deadline passed without any response from the Vietnamese).[6] On March 18, Sirik Matak assisted Lon Nol in organising a vote of the National Assembly to depose Sihanouk as head of state. The pretext was given by a series of anti-Vietnamese riots – likely encouraged by the Prime Minister and his deputy – in front of the North Vietnamese embassy. Foreign media subsequently suggested that Sirik Matak, who continued as Lon Nol’s deputy in the new government, was the real organisational force behind the coup;[7] it was claimed that in order to finally convince Lon Nol, Sirik Matak had played him a tape-recorded press conference from Paris, in which Sihanouk threatened to execute them both on his return to Phnom Penh.[8] It was even reported that Sirik Matak compelled Lon Nol at gunpoint to commit to deposing Sihanouk.[9]

Sihanouk also assumed his cousin to be the main force behind the coup, claiming that Sirik Matak (backed by the CIA, and in contact with long-time Sihanouk opponent Son Ngoc Thanh) had already suggested the plan to Lon Nol as early as 1969.[10] Sihanouk’s suspicions seem to have rooted in fact: Prom Thos, one of Lon Nol’s ministers, later told the historian Ben Kiernan that in around March 1969 Sirik Matak had argued that Sihanouk should be assassinated, Lon Nol rejecting the plan as “criminal insanity”.[11]

With the declaration of the Khmer Republic subsequent to the coup, Sirik Matak renounced his royal title, although he had initially planned in secret that his own son, or another member of the Sisowath family, possibly his son-in-law Prince Sisowath Duongchivin, should take the throne.[12]

Lon Nol’s regime was behind the massacre of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese residents in the period immediately after the takeover[citation needed]. There is evidence that Sirik Matak may have privately made efforts to halt these killings[citation needed].

In the government of the Khmer Republic

For the first year of the Republic, during which Lon Nol was often in poor health, Sirik Matak – as acting Premier – retained the most prominent role in the government. It had an overtly military character, Sirik Matak usually appearing in his full uniform as a Major-General and carrying a swagger stick.[13] Whereas Lon Nol was particularly popular amongst anti-Sihanouk students in Cambodian cities, Sirik Matak had the support of the Westernised urban ‘elite’; rural Cambodians remained overwhelmingly pro-Sihanouk.[14] Sirik Matak also had relatively little personal support within the Cambodian political establishment; his power was gradually undermined by the Prime Minister’s brother, Lon Non, and he resigned in 1972 after the latter had organised a series of demonstrations against him.[15] Despite pressure from the United States, who were strong supporters of Sirik Matak, Lon Nol kept him under effective house arrest, and he became an increasingly vocal critic of the Khmer Republic regime.

By April 1973, Lon Nol had been compelled to remove Lon Non and suspended the National Assembly, appointing a “High Political Council” composed of himself, Sirik Matak, Cheng Heng and In Tam.[16] Privately, however, Sirik Matak stated that under the circumstances it would be preferable to allow Sihanouk to return, due to his levels of popular support, stating “if the people wanted him, I would accept”. On being informed of this, an enraged Sihanouk called Sirik Matak “one of the worst reactionaries and traitors of the history of Cambodia […] we are going to hang him, quite simply hang him, hang him”.[17]

 The fall of Phnom Penh

The Khmer Rouge communists initiated their dry-season offensive to capture the beleaguered Cambodian capital on January 1, 1975. On April 1, 1975, President Lon Nol resigned and fled the country into exile in Hawaii; the Khmer Rouge had published a ‘death list’ with his name at the top, and their forces had now surrounded the capital.

On April 12, 1975, United States’s Ambassador to Cambodia John Gunther Dean, offered high officials of the Khmer Republic political asylum in the United States, but Sirik Matak, Long Boret and Lon Non, along with other members of Lon Nol’s cabinet, declined – despite the names of Boret and Sirik Matak being published by the Khmer Rouge in a list of “Seven Traitors” marked down for execution.[18] Sirik Matak’s written response to the ambassador stated:

“I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can do nothing about it. You leave us and it is my wish that you and your country will find happiness under the sky. But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we are all born and must die one day. I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans. Please accept, Excellency, my dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments. Prince Sirik Matak.[1].[19]

The letter was reproduced and added to the book Autrefois, Maison Privée.

Shortly after the official surrender of the Lon Nol government to the Khmer Rouge was announced, Sirik Matak sought refuge at the Hotel Le Phnom, where the International Red Cross was attempting to create a safe zone. He was turned away once the Red Cross learned that his name was on the list of “Seven Traitors”. Outside the hotel, Sirik Matak talked to reporters and distributed copies of his letter to Ambassador Dean.[20] Bizot reported that Sirik Matak sought political asylum at the French Embassy and that the Khmer Rouge threatened to come into the compound and remove certain individuals by force if they did not go voluntarily. Accompanied by the French Vice-Consul Jean Dyrac and journalist Jon Swain,[21] Bizot took responsibility for informing Sirik Matak that he was to be handed over to the Khmer Rouge.[22] Sirik Matak and the officials that remained along with him were likely executed by the Khmer Rouge on April 21, 1975.

The exact details of his death are unclear, but Sihanouk received confirmation that Sirik Matak, along with Long Boret, had been summarily executed by firing squad at the Phnom Penh Cercle Sportif on April 21; other reports state he was beheaded.[23] Henry Kissinger and others, however, note a report that Sirik Matak was shot in the stomach and left without medical aid to die over three days.[24]

Sirik Matak was married to Princess Norodom Kethneari; his son Prince Sisowath Sirirath (1946-) is currently one of the leaders of the royalist FUNCINPEC political party.

Quotes

  • “I understand America’s attitude of not wanting to interfere in our internal affairs. But if the United States continues to support such a regime, we will fall to the Communists. You give help to a people that wants to live freely. But when you support a regime that is not supported by the people, you help the Communists.[25]
  • “Man is born to die. I will not move. I shall stay here and face everything that happens. They can arrest me. If they kill me, what of it? I stay for my country.[26]
  • “I don’t doubt that you’ll lead our unhappy country unswervingly straight to catastrophe. Suspend everything from your stars, they’ll end up by breaking down, and the sky, collapsing on you, old scarecrow, will bury Cambodia along with its dictator! I’ll no longer lend my name to your repugnant nation: I resign.[27]

the end @ copyright Dr Iwan Suwandy 2011

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