My dear Kacvey,
Let just run through some of the years when radical CHANGES took place in Khmer history for your students’ young memory:
1953: Cambodia became independent from France’s protectorate.
1970: Coup d’etat and the establishment of the Khmer Republic.
1975: Fall of the Khmer Republic and the establishment of the genocidal Democratic Kampuchea.
1979: Fall of the Democratic Kampuchea and the establishment of People’s Republic of Kampuchea supported by Vietnam. Between 1989 and 1993, People’s Republic of Kampuchea changed its name to the pro-Hanoi State of Cambodia. In 1993, after UNTAC, State of Cambodia changed its name to Kingdom of Cambodia.
Whereas 2016 was a year of mortal repression, 2017 was even worst when Democracy and Freedom were savagely murdered by a combined legislative-executive-judiciary force that was authored, orchestrated and meticulously choreographed by the autocrat. The fatal date was 16 November 2017, Cambodia’s democracy and freedom’s Ides of March.
From 1953 to 2017, 4 names are notorious in the history and tragedy of Cambodia: Prince Sihanouk, Lon Nol, Pol Pot and the current so-called weak and selfish strongman. None of them came to power through the free will or the rights to choose of the Khmer people; all of them came to power through violence, bloodshed, war and collaboration with foreigners. The first 3 stuck to the seat of power until they were ousted by the next one who happened to be within their circle. Do your students know where they now are?
If past is prologue, and as Karl Marx, once, said: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”, what will the fate of the 4th one be in 2018? In other words, will 2018 be a turning point for Cambodia in the 21st century?
Martin Luther King, Jr. warned all of us that “we are not makers of history; we are made by history.”