for the truth (Khmer version). Number 17, May 2001
Statement of the Communist
Party of Kampuchea [CPK]
the Communist Workers' Party of Denmark, July
On behalf of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, I wish to
express our deep thanks for your visit to Kampuchea. It is a great honour and a
source of encouragement for us to have you here...
I. On Party-building 1960-67
the beginning we believed it was necessary to have a party led by the working
class and to base ourselves upon the contradictions in Kampuchean society. In
that period, that is, in 1960, Kampuchean society was neo-colonial and
semi-feudal. The contradiction between the Kampuchean nation and US imperialism
was very sharp. That was the external contradiction. As for the internal
contradiction, it was between, on the one hand the working class and the
capitalists and on the other the poor peasants and the feudal class. At that
time, capitalists and reactionaries together oppressed our people.
the basis of these contradictions, the party determined its revolutionary tasks:
to make the national democratic revolution; to fight US imperialism and the
feudal class; to liberate the Kampuchean nation and the poor peasant class. It
laid down this strategic line for the national democratic revolution:
party leading the revolution had to be a party of the working class. It had to
lead the revolution directly and not allow other classes to lead the revolution
or the party. The party had to define the forces of the revolution; firstly, the
strategic forces in the revolution and secondly, the tactical forces in the
forces are the workers, peasants and some of the petty bourgeoisie. Of these, we
see the working class, as basic class while the petty bourgeoisie was something
like allied force. National capitalists were supplementary forces. Moreover, we
regarded some high-ranking personalities within the ruling Class-some big
capitalists and officials in the civil service and government, and some Buddhist
monks -as supplementary forces. Those people had to have a patriotic,
progressive and national outlook, that is, progressive in relation to the
Based on this classification of forces, we tried to
construct a national democratic front for the purpose of struggling against US
imperialism and its lackey. We wish to stress to you that all of these forces
depended upon the leadership of the working class and the party.
party chose two forms of struggle: political struggle and armed struggle. These
are interrelated. The political struggle was promoted through legal struggle and
illegal struggle, with the illegal being the basic from of struggle. Now we
struggle openly and in secret with secret struggle as the basis of our struggle.
We define the forms of struggle in this way as a result of our own experience.
Defending, expanding and building our forces required working in this
took up the struggle in the city as well as in the
struggle in the countryside was the basic one, especially the struggle in the
most backward and remote areas. Those were base areas.
recognized that we had to conduct people's war, to overcome all obstacles, make
any sacrifice, so as resolutely and finally to win victory and to launch a final
offensive. We resolved never to put ourselves on the defensive but always to
take the offensive.
strategic line took as its premises: independence; sovereignty; self-reliance.
It was based upon the right to choose our own destiny with
struggle was based on international solidarity with all brotherly parties in the
world and with all peoples and countries in the world who oppose revisionism,
imperialism, neo-colonialism and colonialism of any kind.
These principles and practices are not new. They have been
recognized around the world, but we review them with you because they reflect
our own experiences. We have followed these principles in our struggle and we
have learned from them. This line was adopted by the first congress of our party
on 30 September 1960.
would like to stress that putting this line into practice was not easy.
Especially before 1970. In 1960, we were badly affected by the twentieth party
congress in the Soviet Union. Vietnam also opposed our party line especially the
armed struggle, as well as our line of independence, sovereignty and
self-re1iance. The Vietnamese said we had to make the national democratic
revolution on the basis of the documents of the twentieth congress in the Soviet
Union. They said it was not clear how the classes in Kampuchea had to be
divided. They believed the feudal class had a progressive function in Kampuchea
and that it would be able to make the revolution with us. Moreover, they thought
the revolution could be achieved through the parliament and on the basis of
co-operation among different classes. Then and now, they saw and still see our
line as putchist and too much to the left. But we defended our party line.
Having correctly defined our party line and our party activities, we sent most
of our cadres to work in the countryside. We kept only a few in the cities.
army was built from scratch, from a small army to a big army. In the beginning,
we created some secret self-defence corps. We selected the best youth. Almost
all cadres had to do illegal work at that time. Only a few worked legally; some
in the parliament, some in the administration, some in the press. The legal work
was for the purpose of mobilizing popular forces but the basic work was the work
done in the countryside and among the workers; it had to be done illegally and
secretly. This meant that our enemies-the US imperialists, their lackey and the
reactionary classes - could not find out who was leading our revolution. They
knew the names of a few comrades such as Khieu Samphan.1 They thought
those comrades were the real leaders of the revolution. But they did not know
the real leaders. And as they could take action against known people only, most
of our leaders were able to work safely.
1960-67, we organized and consolidated many bases in the countryside. The
movement in favour of production and against land- owners was very strong.
Peasants pitted their strength against the ruling class. They had nothing but
used everything: stones, knives, sticks, axes. Some of the wives of poor
peasants participated by taking their children to demonstrate in front of the
National Assembly. Revolutionary forces in the rural areas were very strong
then. We let our party members from the working class go there to work among the
poor and middle peasants.
the cities, there was a related movement among workers and students. They
demanded that the government cut off US aid and kick out the US ambassador.
Demonstrators burnt the US flag and the embassy.2
the countryside, the movement of the people ignited. Those who were hungry rose
up against traitors, reactionaries and agents of the administration. The slogan
was 'Make the National Democratic Revolution', that is, fight US imperialism.
The spirit of patriotism was very high. Everybody felt they had to fight US
imperialism. But we divided the struggle into two parts: the national struggle
and the democratic struggle. In the latter, we raised slogans demanding rights
for students, workers and peasants; higher wages; land to the peasants; better
prices for rice, bean curd and meat and better living conditions for the people.
The struggle embraced big issues and small and involved all regions and means.
The enemy tried to suppress us but failed because we fought legally and
secretly, big and little battles at the same time. In this way, we were able to
defend and strengthen revolutionary forces step-by-step.
-Through struggle, we built up the leadership of the party,
recruiting good cadres from among the workers, peasants, civil servants in the
administration, Buddhist monks and women. In struggle we were able to temper
cadres from all strata. Thus the contradictions in our society deepened, the
contradictions between workers and capitalists, between the peasants and
landlords, between workers and government officials. The enemy tried harder to
suppress our movement. In this situation, confronting these acute
contradictions, we had a Central Committee meeting. We decided we could no
longer continue the legal struggle. And that we had to start the uprising. This
was in January 1968.
Soviet ambassador in Phnom Penh opposed us. The Soviets said our party was out
of its mind to launch armed struggle. They began to build a new party aimed
against us, gathering people who had surrendered to the enemy and who were
traitors, opportunists and vagabonds. Vietnam also opposed our armed struggle.
Vietnamese cadres took action against us, by sneaking around giving our cadres
pamphlets such as Lenin's Left-Wing
Communism: An Infantile Disorder. They said we were too left.
tell you this in order to point out that Vietnam did not help us! A lot of
people misunderstand this. It was at tcl1at moment that our party consolidated
its position as independent and sovereign. We realized our case was different.
We had to take account of the concrete situation in order to resolve our social
contradictions. Perhaps it is different in other places, but this is what it was
like here. We had to determine our line on the basis of our own contradictions.
The situation was favourable for armed struggle. Because our party was united on
this principle and this line and our people supported the revolution
wholeheartedly, the uprising against the ruling classes began in 17 out of 19
provinces. We had no weapons to speak of and no aid from outside. We had only a
few carbines captured from the enemy. Sometimes we had weapons but no
ammunition. Sometimes even if we had no ammunition we carried rifles so as to
frighten the enemy. Step-by-step we were able to expand our forces because we
followed the party line of people's war.
II. The Armed Struggle, 1968-75
people gave us support by hiding food and by hiding our guerrilla forces and
cadres. This taught our cadres to be vigilant in following the party line of
combining with the masses and relying upon the masses. Our army was not very big
then. It fought with bows and arrows, especially in the northeast base areas. We
gained the confidence of the people by showing them that traditional weapons
could kill the enemy. The people then believed in the party line and in the
revolution. The enemy used all kinds of weapons especially in the north-east
where our Central Committee had its base. But this region was very strong; the
enemy could not do a thing to us. However, the Vietnamese revolution was in
trouble then because the enemy had built strategic villages in South Vietnam.
Having no land to escape to, the Vietnamese asked us for refuge and got it. This
led to the 18 March 1970 coup d'état
of the US.
US sought to destroy our revolution, but as we were strong, we began
establishing our own state power in the liberated areas. We were successful
immediately in 70 per cent of the rural areas; if the US had not invaded, we
could have liberated the whole country by June 1970. In 1967-68 many people said
we were ultra-leftist; in 1970, everyone agreed we had the correct position.
Everyone followed us. Socialist countries and other countries around the world
supported us, enabling us to continue our economic, military and international
work better than before. But I would like to stress that even with favourable
conditions we kept the existence of our party secret and we continued to build
upon the secret struggle as a fundamental tactic. We became masters of the
situation because we had our bases in the rural areas, and because we had the
forces of the united front.3
first, we did not notice our contradictions with Vietnam. To be frank, we
thought the Vietnamese were our friends. But instead of helping us Vietnam came
to seize forces, to build up its own forces and to grasp our party as a whole.
There were lots of difficulties. We had to fight the US-Thieu forces sent to
help Lon Nol, while at the same time they tried to stab us in the back. Our
party, of course, decided to resolve the principal contradiction first that is,
to win victory over Lon Nol.
contradiction between us and Vietnam deepened towards 1973 when Vietnam united
with the US at the negotiating table. The US immediately imposed conditions,
obliging Vietnam to pressure Kampuchea to come to the negotiating table. They
tried but we refused. The Vietnamese then made every effort to undermine our
revolution. Meanwhile, as Vietnam and Laos laid down their arms, the US
mobilized all its forces to bomb Kampuchea — all its forces in South-East Asia!
– for 200 days and 200 nights, to force us to the negotiating table. Our party
was resolutely opposed to kneeling to the US. Had we done so the Lon Nol
traitors in Phnom Penh would have gained time to build up their forces. We
decided to struggle to the end. We were in any case able to resist the US air
war, and by defeating the US air war confidence grew in our party line. More and
more people were convinced that our line was correct I must make clear that
awareness of the party line did not come overnight or through theoretical
studies. It grew as a result of the concrete experiences and suffering of the
people and as a result of class hatred. It was only through practice that
understanding of the party line deepened.
1974, the year after the air war, our party decided to launch the final big
offensive, to liberate Phnom Penh and the whole country in the dry season of
1975. Vietnam was naturally informed. The Vietnamese believed the US would not
allow us to win. Moreover they were not prepared to allow us to have victory in
advance of their victory. Consequently, they refused to transport ammunition
being sent from China and other countries, but especially from China. We had to
use ammunition captured from the enemy; we received nothing from Vietnam. The
Vietnamese opposed our winning because they wanted to liberate Saigon and then
send their forces to liberate Phnom Penh, to build up a political apparatus here
and to create a new party, thereby eliminating the Communist Party of Kampuchea
and establishing an Indochinese Federation.
spite of these difficult conditions, our party did its best and liberated Phnom
Penh on 17 April 1975, two weeks in advance of the liberation of Saigon. Once we
had liberated the whole country and secured our independence and sovereignty,
that is in June 1975, the Vietnamese sent their troops to occupy our island, Koh
Way. We defended it and forced Vietnam to withdraw. What we want to make clear
to you is that, throughout the period of national democratic revolution, there
was a hard, complicated struggle involving difficulties with the Soviet Union
and Vietnam but we overcame these and won victory.
the time of the founding of the Communist Party, was there any discussion of the
political line for the period leading to communism?
written in our party programme that we shall continue our socialist revolution
and advance towards communism after the national democratic revolution, but we
did not go into details. We worked out our present tasks of socialist
construction after liberation.4
main tasks are to defend our state power and to continue the socialist
revolution and socialist construction. We have defended our territory and
sovereignty since liberation in a fierce, complicated struggle, especially
against Vietnam. We think this struggle will last a long time since Vietnam has
enormous ambitions. It wants to force Kampuchea into an Indochinese Federation
and will pursue expansionist aims in all of South-east Asia.
for living conditions, we have basically solved our problems by means of
irrigation projects. We are accumulating capital for the development of our
country on the basis of independence and self-reliance.
III. On Building the Party
the right political line was not enough to ensure victory .Our party had to
have, in addition, a firm revolutionary standpoint. This is partly because So
much of our struggle was illegal. Thus, sometimes, if our cadres were not
ideologically committed, they would surrender to the enemy or, once captured,
they would tell secrets. To avoid this, we stressed ideological education.
During the struggle, we encountered many difficulties. For
example, cadres separated from their families and not ideologically firm would
sometimes decide to run back to their families and away from the revolution. And
sometimes cadres were working underground within the enemy administration and
receiving very high wages. Lacking a firm revolutionary standpoint, they would
be bought. Thus our party could see that ideology was the key factor in
implementing the political line as well as the organizational line. Ideological
party building was done in two ways: by destroying incorrect ideological
standpoints and by building up the correct ideological standpoints of the party.
For example, we had to:
build up the
ideological standpoint of the basic class in the party, the working class
consciousness. To do this we had to define the different classes in our society
and the contradictions between them. From this base, we armed our cadres
ideologically with the viewpoints of the working class. This was done by
explaining the spirit of sacrifice for the good of all and the need to abandon
private ownership in favour of collective ownership; and by teaching them party
discipline, love of party work, methods of self-criticism and ways to unite
closely with the masses;
build up the
ideological standpoint of revolutionary patriotism and revolutionary
internationalism, the first being the fundamental standpoint. By this we mean
striving energetically to make our own revolution, struggling successfully
against imperialism and revisionism in our own country. This advances and
supports the international struggle. To speak only of internationalism while
failing to carry out the revolution in one's own country is meaningless. We have
to be concrete in this. We try to teach our people the principle of
self-reliance in order to avoid making ourselves a burden for friendly
countries. While they might like to help us, they must make their own
revolutions and improve the living standard of their own people. Thus, we try as
much as possible to avoid outside aid, to overcome all forms of suffering
without seeking aid unless it is absolutely necessary .On the one hand, we try
to avoid being too nationalistic, and on the other, to avoid being too
build up the
ideological standpoint of constantly maintaining revolutionary ardour,
especially the desire to be like ordinary people, especially the poor peasants.
This is why our party cadres and our men and women in the army do not receive
wages; they are told to serve the party and to receive only from the party. In
this way, we avoid creating a new ruling class separated from the people;
build up the
concept of the mass outlook and of the mass line, that is, to have full
confidence in the masses and to live among the masses, especially the poor
peasants. Only by doing this can the revolution win victory and build its
forces. We stress this to cadres because there are some who have petty bourgeois
class backgrounds, specifically intellectuals who lack real confidence in the
masses, especially in the poor peasants. We try to make them understand that
these poor people can do everything. They conquered the enemy, do productive
work and everything. Because they do everything, we must serve them;
also instructed in revolutionary vigilance, that is, taking care to be on guard
against the enemy;
We arm them
with an understanding of dialectical materialism to enable them to analyse
things and to understand the ideological standpoints of the party.
All of these ideological standpoints have been propagated
in the branches and cells of the party. This was done not by the reading out of
documents but by analysing daily activities, determining what was done wrongly
and correcting shortcomings.
for our books, they are only a few pages in length, as brief documents are more
suitable for poor peasants. We also have some courses, mostly short ones for
small groups -in underground work for two to three people-once or twice a month.
There are also other courses held about twice a year in which party members are
introduced to revolutionary concepts and educated in our political, ideological
and organizational line.
now, after liberation, we believe the ideological factor is the determining
factor. In cadre education, we place stress on destroying old society
ideological standpoints which remain powerful. Among leading cadres, we also
stress the defending and building up of working class consciousness. This is to
avoid revisionism. When a party becomes revisionist, it is not because the
ordinary member becomes revisionist but because the leadership leads the party
towards revisionism. Although we say very little about revisionism outside the
party, inside the party we have fought a lot against revisionism. It is partly
for this reason that we avoid using the documents of others. We rely mostly on
our own assessments of class struggle. This is more concrete. Some of our cadres
who have lived overseas, and who worked with foreign communist panics, regularly
request foreign documents, claiming we neglect the study of Marxism-Leninism.
But we tell them that Marxism-Leninism develops by means of the struggle of the
people; our experiences are genuine Marxist-Leninist documents.
IV. The Organizational Line of
build the party ideologically and organizationally by relying on our class
analysis, taking the poor peasant and worker classes as the basic classes. Those
who joined from the petty bourgeoisie or other classes tried to promote the
standpoints of those classes, but they had to renounce their old standpoints and
develop working class consciousness. Cadres are evaluated on the basis of their
concrete activities. Their spirit has to be clean uncorrupted and without
entangling contacts with the enemy. We investigate life histories and class
background both before and after they join the revolution. We do this to prevent
infiltration by, for example, CIA, KGB or Vietnamese agents. By adopting these
organizational principles, we have unity in the party and can cleanse our party
of bad elements.5 We have not been 100 per cent successful. The enemy
is still attempting to undermine the party. Consequently, we are striving to
strengthen political and ideological education and to clean the party.
In summation, we can say that our party is integrated and
united through this political, ideological, and organizational work. It has
become stronger and stronger. We have learned that, as soon as you have a strong
and clean party, you will have a strong revolutionary movement. We still have
some distance to travel on this path, and the enemy, both the imperialists and
the revisionists as well as the Vietnamese, continue to fight us. Thus, the
building of the party continues from one generation to the next. We hope to
avoid the possibility of the next generation becoming revisionist. If we can
guard safely the interests of our country, we will also contribute to the
struggle in the whole world. We know about the emergence of revisionism in the
Soviet Union and we are saddened by this. And about the destruction of the
Indonesian party by the enemy. We have learned from these experiences, and the
experiences of other parties. We have tried not to fall by the wayside.
there a danger – from outside the country or inside the party – a danger of a
new class being created?
clarify the nature of the struggle inside the party, yes, there are both
dangers. Inside the party, there is a contradiction between the standpoints of
private ownership and collective ownership. If we do not take care, it may
become antagonistic. The other contradiction is external. Vietnam, in
particular, is trying to undermine our party by military, political, economic
and ideological means. The Vietnamese also try to infiltrate our party. We are
not worried about the external, military aggression. We worry most of all about
the enemy inside.
is illegal work still the fundamental or basic work?
this period, after liberation, it is secret work that is fundamental. We no
longer use the terms 'legal' and 'illegal'; we use the terms 'secret' and
'open'. Secret work is fundamental in all that we do. For example, the elections
of comrades to leading work are secret. The places where our leaders live are
secret. We keep meeting times and places secret, and so on. On the one hand,
this is a matter of general principle, and on the other, it is a way to defend
ourselves from the danger of enemy infiltration. As long as there is class
struggle or imperialism, secret work will remain fundamental. Only through
secrecy can we be masters of the situation and win victory over the enemy who
cannot find out who is who.
also applies to foreign affairs. For example, the Soviet Union asked to come to
Phnom Penh at liberation. They were preparing to send men to the Embassy. We
said we could not possibly receive them and they were furious. We base
everything on secrecy. This is in the interests of the working classes.
do you not mention the Soviets externally?
the party we struggle resolutely against the Soviet Union, but we have many
enemies now – US imperialism, Thailand, Vietnam – and for tactical reasons we
must limit our enemies as much as possible. It should be clear that we oppose
the Soviet Union and revisionism, but our line has to be different from the line
taken in China because we are a small country.
Take another example: our attitude towards 'the three
worlds'. We have the same standpoint, exactly the same, but as for what we do,
we have to bear in mind the concrete interests of our country.
you have a party programme?
we have one but only in Kampuchean. We still have many tasks; we have not done
enough propaganda work internationally. The Vietnamese enemy has been able to
make so much international propaganda against us because of shortcomings in our
propaganda work in the international arena.
Concrete Work Before and After Liberation
Before liberation, legal activities concerned work
undertaken by different organizations such as the students' union, workers'
associations, women's association and other organizations. We did everything we
were allowed to do under the enemy's laws. There are also sub-categories of
non-legal or non-open activities: semi-open and semi-secret forms or semi-legal
and semi-illegal forms. Celebrating May 1st, for example, was both
legal and illegal. Even though the ruling class might have caught us, we
celebrated May 1st We maintained the tradition once it was
established. Perhaps it is different in your place.
Communist Party of Kampuchea has never before been legal. This is also true of
other progressive organizations we created. We developed the tactic of secrecy,
firstly, to defend ourselves, secondly, to mobilize more forces, and finally to
serve our struggle, for example, in mobilizing intellectuals. We found they
would not join us if we used semi-illegal forms, but with legal forms such as
celebrations and visiting temples, they joined in. Thus, we made them join us
step-by-step. Many semi-secret and semi-illegal and secret activities were
organized so as to protect the wholly illegal and secret activities of the party
centre. Thus, when the enemy attacked from outside, he struck semi-illegal and
semi-secret activities only and we were able to defend our party and its
leadership. In the neo-colonial, semi-feudal society, we had to work in complete
secrecy, both inside the party and inside other organizations. This also applied
to party members working among the masses. Since liberation, we continue secret
work because we consider the strategic line to be more important than tactics.
We have published the names of only a few of our cadres and members. Not many
need to be public. During the war, all of them were secret in this area, we
learned from the bloodstained experience of the Communist party of
Operating secretly, our organization has the following
rules. Three members are required to form a cell, for example in a factory. If
there are more than three members, a cell secretary must direct party work. If
there are up to six people, we form two separate cells having no contact with
each other. Even with five people we organize two separate party cells, which
work secretly and separately. If the enemy discovers one cell, the other can
continue its work. There are no direct contacts among cells. In each factory,
there is one leading cadre. Only he knows this. He can go directly to the
leadership. These procedures also apply to other sectors such as students. We
form cells having no knowledge of each other and which are unable to contact
each other. The same applies to contacts between the designated leading cadre
and the leadership. Contacts are arranged through a third person. If the enemy
captures the leading cadre, he will not be able to identify the leadership, only
the go-between. This is our secret organization.
our experience, secrecy is only one aspect of building up the organization. Of
greater importance is the ideological level of the designated leading cadres.
They must display great discipline. We had to be especially careful when work
had to be done in the cities. Cadres can be forced to leave in a hurry. They
should not live with their families. When they do, things get complicated. It
takes them longer to escape. We have had some bitter experience with these
things. Afterwards, we decided to observe party discipline more strictly. Permit
me to say that we are speaking of concrete experiences and conditions in our
country. It is up to you to decide what you can learn from these experiences. We
offer these examples out of friendly revolutionary
meant avoiding the law. For example, we had to make our own identity cards so
that our names would not appear in the register. If the enemy captured genuine
identity cards, photos and work permits, it would have been easier to find us.
Also, if revolutionaries did not have any work, the enemy might have noticed us.
We opened a bookshop for ourselves, but to avoid letting out any of our names,
we took shelter behind a third person and his name. During the war many cadres
had to leave their jobs periodically, and we had to protect them. Contacts and
meetings were at night; so were political training classes. We locked ourselves
up in a room for two or three days until we were finished. Contacts between
publicly well-known leaders, such as those who worked in parliament, and secret
leaders were arranged through two or three other persons. We employed various
tactics to overcome the oppression of the enemy. For meetings in a house, for
example, we used signals, such as a scarf in front of the house. If the scarf
was in place, it was safe to enter it; if it was not, the enemy was there. In
the beginning we lost many people because the enemy knew the secret signals.
From this we learned not to go directly into the house but to walk around the
neighbourhood, maybe go into a shop, drink something and ask about what was
happening in the house. Sometimes good people would tell us in confidence about
the enemy. Sometimes the neighbours were not revolutionaries, but they would
warn us if spies and agents were there.
also used couriers for messages, letters, carrying ammunition, etc. Couriers
were not allowed to know our real places of residence. Other- wise, captured
couriers could be forced to reveal them. We had to use a bridge of two or three
other persons. If a messenger failed to show up, we did nothing for two to three
days. But after this, we had to move elsewhere. When the enemy learned this,
they tortured captured couriers right away so as to catch us. From bitter
experience, we learned to abandon a safe house at once if a messenger was two to
three hours late. The enemy came immediately a few times and we had to use arms
in order to allow leading cadres to escape. This should give you an idea of our
experiences. The tactics and techniques are of secondary importance only; most
important is the class standpoint of cadres.
liberation, our experience relates to anti-party activities organized inside our
party. They usually involve CIA, Vietnamese and KGB agents. Our experiences in
this area are very recent, but it appears from what we have been able to learn
that CIA, Vietnamese and KGB agents have been working inside the party for a
long time. When we observed that something was wrong, we thought it was an
internal contradiction and attempted to resolve it by means of persuasion,
self-criticism and so on. For example, the party had to give directives to a
branch concerning the living conditions of the people. When nothing changed, we
realized something was wrong. Where there were deviations to the left or to the
right, we looked carefully into the backgrounds of the cadres. We also sought
the opinion of the masses. We have thus been able to uncover enemy agents
step-by-step. Generally, we discovered they had been engaged in enemy activities
for a very long time. Sometimes good comrades had been imprisoned and tortured
and afterwards they surrendered to the enemy. Upon release, they served as
agents. We welcomed them back, accepted them, without looking at what had
happened in prison. We now realize they had become agents of the
more widely known that the USA planned to seize power from us six months after
liberation. The plan involved joint action on the part of the USA, the KGB and
Vietnam. There was to be combined struggle from inside and outside. But we
smashed the plan. Immediately after liberation, we evacuated the cities. The
CIA, KGB and Vietnamese agents there left for the countryside and were unable to
implement the plan. People who had infiltrated the party could not react
immediately, but we discovered them later when they planned coups d'état. Their activities were
coordinated with aggression from outside. These were not powerful people; their
intention was to exploit the opportunity provided by Vietnam's attacks to
assassinate our leaders and then announce it to the world. However, when the
Vietnamese attacked, our army defeated them and we caught the traitors inside
we say plans have been crushed, we do not mean the enemy has given up. We have
to continue to build and to defend our party, and our leadership, and to
apprehend the people who have infiltrated our party. We know the current plan
involves not only Vietnamese agents, but has something to do with US imperialism
and the KGB. All of them! A similar thing has occurred in Yemen, both North and
South. And in Afghanistan. But as these things happen, the face of the
Soviets becomes more and more clear.
co-operation between the CIA and KGB or is it rivalry for control of Kampuchea?
On the one hand they co-operate; on the other, they are rivals. For example,
Vietnam attacked us last October to December while the US conducted operations
near our coastal islands and along the border with Thailand with its CIA agents.
They compete for control at the same time. This is an open form of co-operation.
As for the secret one, some CIA agents joined up with the Vietnamese in order to
come to Kampuchea. Because the US was unable to come into Kampuchea, it had to
rely upon Vietnam. The Vietnamese do not discriminate in choosing agents. They
accept anybody who fights the Communist party of Kampuchea. Even CIA
leadership apparatus must be defended at any price. If we lose members but
retain the leadership, we can continue to win victories. Defending the
leadership of the party is strategic. As long as the leader- ship is there, the
party will not die. There can be no comparison between losing two to three
leading cadres and 200-300 members. Rather the latter than the former. Otherwise
the party has no head and cannot lead the struggle. This has been demonstrated
by the experience of the Communist Party of Indonesia. Its leadership was 90 per
cent destroyed. It has taken them a very long time to re-establish themselves.
Thirteen years have passed since 1965 and the party is not yet rebuilt. We do
not know how long it will take for them to regain the offensive strength, which
they had before. To build a good leadership is strategic. It takes 10-20 years
to build up a good leading communist. If you lose one, you lose a lot. And party
secrecy can be lost.
Building and Leading the Revolutionary Movement
As we have said, from 1960 we regarded the workers,
peasants, the petty bourgeoisie and progressive patriotic personalities as
strategic forces. The working class is the progressive class while the largest
class is the peasantry. The others are secondary, allied forces. The national
progressive capitalists were secondary, tactical forces mobilized in particular
instances. The next step was setting the strategic line. The rural struggle was
the fundamental struggle. We divided our cadres between the towns and the
countryside, according to their abilities. Before 1960 there was some confusion
about this. We did not have a clear party line. We had developed bases in the
countryside but the enemy had destroyed up to 90 per cent of them. Moreover, we
were not strong in the cities. We realized in 1959 that we lacked the strategic
forces necessary for advancing the revolution!
was only after 1960 that we could allocate our forces correctly. Most of them
went to work among the peasants; slightly fewer worked among the petty
Bourgeoisie, the students and intellectuals; a very few worked among national
capitalists and with high-ranking personalities in the administration. Once we
had this line we could very quickly build our forces. In particular, we built up
rural base areas. As the mass movement became stronger and stronger, we were
able to build up legal and illegal work. We could even mount mass
demonstrations. From 1962 to 1963, in particular, our forces grew stronger and
best of our cadres worked among poor peasants building base areas in the most
remote regions. They had to transform themselves so as to work among peasants.
Initially, there were a lot of problems. Meanwhile in the cities, cadres had to
become workers. The conditions in the cities and the countryside were quite
different in rural areas, living conditions were very bad but there were few
enemies. In the cities, living conditions were better but there were many
enemies. Both places had advantages and disadvantages. Cadres had to be selected
accordingly. There was a lot of malaria in the countryside. Some cadres refused
to work there, but we had work to do and we had to strengthen their ideological
we look back upon this period, we realize we would not have obtained such a big
victory without first overcoming such obstacles. We see two main turning points:
if we had not reorganized in 1960, we could not have launched the armed struggle
in 1968; if we had not launched the armed struggle in 1968, we would not have
been masters of the situation at the time of the 1970 coup d'état. The enemy might otherwise
have destroyed our forces. To be master of the situation, to rely upon your own
forces, to be sovereign – these words have meaning only if we have the forces of
the people in our hands. If we do not, they will fall into the hands of the
enemy. The most important thing was to grasp the national forces in our country.
This was for us a major lesson.
seek to stress the right thing in gathering forces. This is important in all
periods of the revolution. Today, in the period of socialist revolution, our
strength is greater than it was during the national democratic revolution. Take,
for example, the petty capitalists who were evacuated from the cities. Initially
they had difficulties living in the countryside, but gradually they have become
proud of the revolution. They see the prospects for their children, that our
revolution is clean and that we are independent and sovereign. They know we can
defend ourselves from Vietnam, and they have confidence in us. As for the
intellectuals who have remained abroad, some support us. In France, an
association has expressed solidarity with us against Vietnam. We are stronger
now than in the first revolution: 85 per cent of the population belongs to the
revolution, as workers and peasants, and 80-90 per cent of the intellectuals
belong to it. Only ten per cent are different. We try to educate these people so
that they will see that the revolution is good for them and their children. Thus
we grow stronger and stronger.
have gathered forces from different strata in different periods because everyone
recognizes the patriotic spirit of the communists. The feudalists said bad
things about Vietnam and the USA without doing anything. They were corrupt and
let Vietnam come – 100 kilometres, 200 kilometres, half a kilometre – across the
border by corrupting the police.
The Vietnamese thus crawled into our country by what they
tern 'legal' means, especially in Takeo and Svay Rieng. But when power came into
the hands of the party, everyone saw that we could hold aloft the banner of
independence. They realized communists were clean, that we live as ordinary
people live, while in the old days, when people lived in a capitalist way, the
society disintegrated. As soon as people understood, they followed the communist
way and we could easily mobilize forces.
VII. Forming the National United
did we make Sihanouk join us? We were able to mobilize forces after the coup d'état because we had made
preparations for a long time. We were masters of the situation. We had an army;
we had some weapons. Thus, we were able to form a united front. We even allowed
King Sihanouk to become chairman of the front. It meant nothing because we were the masters of the situation.
Following the coup, Sihanouk was reduced from everything to nothing while for us
it was the opposite – in the cities as well as in the countryside. Forces from
the basic levels of society were essential for getting top levels to join us.
That is the first lesson.
second lesson and experience concerns front activities. We did not have an easy
time of it. The enemy tried to corrupt Sihanouk – the USA, the French, the
Soviet revisionists – and to split him away from the front. Sihanouk did not
leave because we won victory after victory at the basic level. Sihanouk would
have left us had we not done so, especially in 1973 when Vietnam sat at the
negotiating table with the USA. Sihanouk was scared to be alone; he kept asking
if we were able to continue the struggle. He wanted to negotiate but we told him
we would continue the struggle to the end.
we found we had to struggle inside the front with Sihanouk at the same time that
we united with him externally. Sihanouk asked for things; we let him have them
as long as this did not contradict our strategic policy. We had to be very
flexible towards him. The party slogan was 'Don't push anybody over to the
The Urban Struggle,
struggle in the cities had two components: the legal struggle and the secret
struggle. The urban struggle was not as important as the struggle in the
countryside but its impact was felt all over the country and on an international
level. Moreover, the struggle had an important effect on the middle level of the
ruling class, in spite of the fact that the city was the headquarters of the
ruling class and its apparatus of oppression.
Some of the legal work was undertaken in the National
Assembly. We did not attempt to obtain seats; we used patriotic personalities
for making propaganda. These dignitaries did not act in the name of the party,
but the party was in essence behind the propaganda. The work was limited. We
just let our people use strategic slogans to arouse the people. At the same
time, we used newspapers, promoted rumours and asked people to follow the
deputies whom we had managed to get into the Assembly. In this way, we worked at
the top, making people follow us while at the same time we worked at basic
we were able to work legally in the National Assembly, our deputies were
sometimes subject to repression. We would then try to sneak our ideas into other
deputies by telling them, 'If you say this and this, people will follow you and
elect you again'. And sometimes they tried it. When our slogans were used before
the people, the people applauded. The deputies were pleased. Later they would
ask us what to say and we would then sneak more of our slogans into them. Some
of our comrades could not understand this and thought that by doing this we
might strengthen the influence of the ruling class. But we did not think it did
any harm. If we could get some of the essence of our ideas to the people, then
we could get some of these people with us. There were difficulties in the
struggle with our newspapers.
the ruling class realized a particular newspaper had been secretly established
by the party, it would be closed in less than three months. We would then let
comrades write anonymously for newspapers of a more neutral nature. Sometimes
the paper would cut out half the words. We did it nonetheless; to get some ideas
out. We also let our people respond to reactionary newspaper articles, by
writing letters to the editor asking the paper to stop printing reactionary
views. In the case of the most reactionary papers, those that could not be
restrained in any other way, we called for mass demonstrations at their offices.
In the case of Phnom Penh Presse, a CIA newspaper and the most reactionary
of them all, we let the people sack the place.9 Among our other activities in
the cities, we promoted artistic performances among the people and arranged
travel to rural areas for festivals, ceremonies, and so on. We were thus able to
make our forces stronger and stronger at all levels of the society.
the right slogan, the slogan that suited the situation – asking not too much,
not too little in the situation – was crucial to our work in the cities. We did
not use words like 'revolutionary', 'communist', or 'red', for example. Instead
we used words everyone would accept such as 'Fight US Imperialism', 'Fight for
Sovereignty', etc. People were especially scared of words such as 'communist'
and 'revolutionary'. But we made them adopt our party line, in its essence, by
putting out the party line. If in this way we could make people adopt the line –
people who were otherwise afraid of 'revolution' and 'communism' – then those
people, in spite of their fears, were able to hold aloft our party flag.
We even worked within the movement of Buddhist monks,
making them follow us by saying we would defend the country and religion. If the
country were to become dominated by foreigners, there would no longer be any
religion. So monks, too, held aloft our banner even if they did not like
communism. We worked not only among the rank-and-file monks – they were not so
reactionary, in any case – but also among high-ranking monks who controlled
large parts of the country. We used slogans opposing foreign suppression of the
culture of Kampuchea. Monks then became patriotic, supporting us without being
aware of it.
also worked with high personalities such as Penn Nouth.10 Here, we
had to be careful. We had to solicit his ideas, not make propositions, not
propagate. The high-ranking patriotic personalities were not an important force
but we were trying to gather all forces in support of the struggle, especially
in the cities. We asked, for example, 'What would your Excellency think if the
USA attacked the country?' He would then think about it and we would sneak in
ideas about what had to be done. The dignitaries then listened to us and spoke
to others under their influence. Thus Penn Nouth did not know that he propagated
for the communists.
were the different forms of legal struggle in the cities. However, we put most
stress upon the secret struggle. Without the secret struggle, the legal struggle
would not have succeeded. These two forms of struggle interacted and
complemented each other, but the secret work was the most
had to educate our cadres all the time about secret as well as legal work. When
the situation was easy, cadres wanted to work legally so as to have the chance
to gain a title, money, etc. And when the situation was difficult, they
preferred instead to work secretly. Consequently they had to be educated
continuously, so as to be able to remain firm at their posts even at the risk of
their lives. They could not assume new duties on their own, before the party
gave authorization. This was ideological work.
difficulties, we took precautions. We set up bases in the countryside that would
receive people engaged in secret work in the cities. Once secrecy was broken,
however, those comrades were not allowed into secret work in the countryside.
Once out in the open – always open work. We had to be careful about where people
went so that no one knew in advance. If they did, the enemy could find out.
cadres had trouble, they often asked to be sent to the countryside even when
secrecy remained unbroken. Because of this we had to work step-by-step with
their ideological standpoint, and we had to keep an eye on those working in the
cities – either secretly or legally – observing especially their living
conditions and personal circumstances. Those working secretly could not hold
jobs as ordinary people did, so we had to assist them in finding jobs to some
accordance with the party's correct line, we were able to build and to defend
our forces. Some were destroyed by the enemy, but for the most part we were able
to protect them; especially after the coup in 1970 when we had large liberated
areas. The locations of our most important bases were a secret. Even US
electronics could not discover them. Although US bombings destroyed a lot, they
were not very effective because we stuck to our secret line of struggle.
Vietnamese forces in Vietnam were less well-hidden and less secret than we were
and because of that more of them were destroyed. Even the Vietnamese here were
hit more often than we were.
Our people and soldiers called the B-52s 'the blind ones'.
When they came, they dropped bombs without looking. They did not care whether
they hit anything or not. Our people were not too afraid of the B-52s.
learned that as long as we preserved our secrecy, our struggle could continue as
long as necessary. Even US-made artillery was ineffective when it was not known
who or where we were. Within limits. Some of us were hit But we told our cadres
not to be afraid, to keep themselves well hidden and then we would all be able
to throw out the US imperialists.
Chea concluded his statement at this point as the time allocated for the meeting
statement was made orally in two parts on 30-31 July 1978. It was received by
Peter Bischoff, leader of the visiting delegation, and at that times a member of
the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Workers' Party of
Denmark. He is no longer a member of the party. The visit to Kampuchea had been
arranged by the Danish party for the purpose of obtaining information about
post-war conditions and the ruling party's policies. The Communist Workers'
Party of Denmark did not then have (and, as a result of this visit, still does,
not have) party-to-party relations with the CPK. Nuon Chea spoke to the
delegation in Khmer, the national
language of Kampuchea. His remarks were translated into English by Ngo Pin,
official interpreter of Democratic Kampuchea [note: Ngo Pin is currently
working for the Royal Government of Cambodia with the rank of secretary of state
for Planning], and recorded verbatim in Danish longhand by Peta Bischoff.
The text that follows has been retranslated into English by Peter Bischoff and
edited, abridged and annotated by Laura Summers.
1. Khieu Sarnphan was a left-wing member of the National Assembly
from 1962 until 1967 when he went underground. In 1978 he was President of
2. Nuon Chea conflates a series of events in 1963-65. US aid was
rejected in December 1963. Following public demonstrations against US aerial
attacks on Cambodian villages along the South Vietnamese border, diplomatic
relations were severed in May 1965.
3. This is a reference to the National United Front of Kampuchea,
formed with the deposed Prince Sihanouk in May 1970. The forces of the front
included Vietnamese 'volunteer' forces numbering 30,000-60,000 troops in 1970-72
and Sihanoukist forces rapidly armed and trained by the Vietnamese.
4. This means after April 1975. Nuon Chea fails to report
conflicts within the party concerning the strategy for the transition, for
reasons that become clear later.
5. To 'cleanse' the party means to purge the party. The
interpreter has translated Nuon Chea's comment literally.
6. Before October 1965 the PKI strategic line of legal,
parliamentary struggle had been commended to the CPK. In 1966 the CPK Central
Committee concluded that dependence upon non-revolutionary forces and 'others'
would isolate the party. It resolved to 'push harder' for the principle of
independence and self-reliance in political struggle.
7. Only three branches of the proto-communist Khmer People's
Revolutionary Party were active: one in Phnom Penh, one in the south-west and
one in the Central Committee. The party's secretary had defected to Sihanouk in
8. Pol Pot became Acting Secretary of the CPK in 1962 and was
elected Secretary in 1963.
9. Phnom Penh Presse
offices were sacked in 1967 during demonstrations initially encouraged by
10. Penn Nouth
was head of a wealthy and influential family, a trusted adviser to Prince
Sihanouk and many times Prime Minister in the government. He was also President
of the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Association, which was dissolved in 1967 for
sponsoring pro-PRC activities.