The government of Cambodia (Kampuchea) has complained to the United Nations about Vietnamese attacks across her border.
The government of Cambodia (Kampuchea) has complained to the United Nations about Vietnamese attacks across her border. Fighting in the area has flared up again in the past week; and the Cambodian Foreign Minister, Ieng Sary, has called on the Security Council to demand a halt to it. He also urged the Council to ask member states to stop helping Vietnam, saying that radio broadcasts indicated that Soviet pilots were involved in bombing raids on Cambodian territory.
SYNOPSIS: There is nothing new about the enmity between Vietnam and Cambodia. Their common border has seen many fierce battles in recent years. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was fought over, in the struggle between the United States-backed Cambodian and South Vietnamese governments on the one side, and the Khmer Rouge and Viet Cong on the other. But the victory of Communist forces in both countries nearly four years ago did not bring peace to the border.
In April 1970, the corpses of several hundred Vietnamese civilians were found floating in Cambodian rivers. A month before, demonstrators in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, had sacked the Embassies of North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary government of South Vietnam. Shops owned by Vietnamese were also attacked.
The motive was partly political: Vietnamese in Cambodia were accused of helping the Communists; and partly an expression of the deep-seated mistrust between the two countries.
After the massacres, a small flotilla of South Vietnamese vessels sailed up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh to bring out as many refugees as they could carry. But thousands who wanted to leave Cambodia had to be left behind. There are still huge numbers of refugees from Cambodia making their way into Vietnam. Many of these are not Vietnamese, but Cambodians who have found the present regime oppressive. Vietnam has taken advantage of this to establish a rival Kampuchean National United Front.
Fighting has been going on along the border for more than a year. At first, the Vietnamese forces were waging a mainly defensive war. About four months ago, they were contending with Cambodian raids into Vietnam; raids which they said had been accompanied by indiscriminate slaughter of Vietnamese civilians. A Canadian reporter who visited Tay Ninh province, near the border, said that in the past year more than a thousand had been killed.
As a result, the survivors took to the road -- adding to the thousands who have abandoned or been forced from their homes by war in Indo-China. In the past quarter of a century, the people of Vietnam and Cambodia have fought the French and then the Americans; now they are fighting each other, with the Soviet Union supplying Vietnam, and China maintaining close relations with Cambodia.
Now that dry weather has returned again, the Vietnamese forces, or their allies, appear to have gone over to the offensive. Latest reports from both sides indicate heavy fighting well inside the Cambodian border, apparently aimed at the occupation of territory east of the Mekong River. Radio Hanoi, however, says that it is being carried on not by Vietnamese regular forces, but by guerrillas of the Kampuchean National United Front.