Events on 17 April 1975







Mony Visal Khouy


            17 April 1975 is the day of victory over the U.S. imperialists. The Khmer Liberation Army, “or the Khmer Rouge army,” was able to eliminate the pain and suffering of the Cambodian people during a war that lasted five years, since 1970-1975. 17 April 1975 gave the people of Cambodia much hope, motivation, and happiness knowing that their country had achieved peace and prosperity.  It became a peaceful country after people united from their separation from parents, families, and relatives during the war.


            My mother and father, as well as the rest of the people in the city of Phnom Penh, came out to congratulate and welcome the Khmer Liberation Army that entered and filled the entire city of Phnom Penh.  They felt joyful and happy.  My father, like other people in the city of Phnom Penh, raised a white flag, screaming, “Bravo to victory and peace!” with a beaming face filled with hope for the future.  But it was not too long after people had become excited and joyful about this peace, that the Khmer Liberation Army, or the Khmer Rouge, began ordering people out of their homes.  For three days they would leave Phnom Penh.  The Khmer Liberation Army said, “The Americans are going to drop bombs on the city of Phnom Penh.  The Khmer Liberation Army will stay to clear out all the imperialists in the city of Phnom Penh and then you can return.  Therefore, we ask all brothers and sisters to leave without taking any of your belongings, because you will only leave for three days.”  With the threats of their guns, the Khmer Liberation Army forced my family and our neighbors to quickly leave our homes.  Anybody or any family that was not willing to leave, the Khmer Rouge Liberation Army would threaten and if they remained stubborn and were not willing to leave their homes, they would be shot and killed. 


            My family left our home that was north of Tuol Svay Prey School in Sangkat #5, Phnom Penh.  Remorse mixed with fear.  When we left our home, my father brought a motorcycle to load our clothes, a ricepot, a kettle, and a small bag of rice.  We then began our journey on Monivong Street that was filled with throngs of people, pushing and crowding each other.  Children were crying and screaming and people were calling to each other and asking for their families and relatives that they had lost along the journey.  On the side of the road, my mother saw corpses that were hit by shrapnel as well as corpses of Lon Nol soldiers dressed in military uniforms who were shot and lying dead on the ground.  At that time I was six years old and my mother who was seven months pregnant held on to my hand behind my father who was straddling his motorcycle among the crowd of thousands of people.  My younger sibling who was three years old, sat on the motorcycle with a bag of clothing, a kettle, and a small bag of rice.  We walked forward along the side of Monivong Street without knowing where we were going.  When we reached the circle intersection at the head of the road, the Khmer Liberation Army asked my father to give up his motorcycle.  At this time, my family experienced great difficulty on our journey, because my younger sibling was still very small and my mother was also pregnant.  But no matter how difficult things were we needed to continue our journey forward, because the Khmer Liberation Army kept yelling at us from behind with a gun always pointed at us.  My family crossed Kbal Khnal Bridge and towards the bank on the far eastern side.  Other evacuees felt exhausted, scared and hopeless.  I can not remember every event that took place in 1975, especially what happened on 17 April 1975, which my family and the other people throughout Cambodia have experienced in fright and terror.  My mother has told me about these events and has made me feel pity, compassion, and anger for the people who have died in innocence.  I feel especially remorseful for the events that have made me an orphan without a father. 17 April 1975 has remained a day I will always remember.








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