I have just been to the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh when my friends told me that our friend Lyna is seeing me for the first time since our months in China, so I agreed to walk around the nearby park, which I later knew as the park where the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument was built. The monument stands proud amidst the dark years of Khmer Rouge who plundered the Kingdom’s precious resources, its human capital. It is the pivotal structure that stood the horrors of genocide and stops the evil regime of Pol Pot from decimating the country further. As a student of foreign policy, I never have touched the issue between the years 1975-1979 in Cambodia and what triggered the invasion from Vietnam, however, as I see it now, Vietnam’s invasion has thrown away the evil regime and restores the democracy of the Kingdom and gave hopes to the people whose lives were forever altered because of genocide.
It was built in later part of the 1970s after the Cambodia-Vietnam War which saw the overthrow of the Khmer Regime. The unique sculptural attributes of the monument is its 1930’s relics of Soviet soldiers in the Socialist Realist style and a mother holding her baby that raises their hands in strong defiance of atrocities and harm.
This monument also sees tests of time when in 1998, Cambodians attempted to burn the monument to the ground and in 2007, the base of the monument was bombed. Now, as I was walking in front of the monument, I see freedom and the sensibilities of all Cambodians towards their historic affiliation to freedom and democracy which was plagued by war and genocide. As I was observing that fateful afternoon, there are no other backpacker or tourist come to the park and the monument where this landmark sits proudly.
Nearby the monument is a children’s park where younger generations of Cambodians play and relax. I told myself that this strong friendship will usher further, years of cooperation and sustained civility and thus fostering democracy and freedom.