Source: Radio Free Asia & Khmerization (translated to English),
May 17, 2010

More than 100 Khmer expatriates living in Norway have on 8th May held a Buddhist ceremony to commemorate and pay homage to thousands of Khmer refugees who had tragically died in Dangrek Mountain ranges after Thai troops packed them into trucks and buses and dumped them in minefields on top of Dangrek Mountains near Preah Vihear temple in 1979, reports Radio Free Asia.

When the Vietnamese army drove the Khmer Rouge out of power in 1979, tens of thousands of Khmer refugees fled to Thailand. Thousands have died after they have been inhumanly forced back on foot into Cambodia through thick minefields.

Mr. Ir Channa, Secretary General of the Cambodian Watchdog Council International (CWCI) for the Norwegian city of Kristiansand, an organizer of the event, said the event is to remember the tragic deaths of tens of thousands of Khmer refugees when Thai troops dumped them on top of the mountains and forced them at gun points to walk into minefields back to Cambodia. “(They) were sent back by Thai soldiers so they can get killed (by landmines). Some people were shot dead by Thai soldiers and other fell to their deaths (from the mountain cliffs). They (ceremony participants) want to participate in the ceremony in order to pray to the soul of those who died so their spirit will reach a peaceful world”, he said.

The UNHCR’s report, on page 494, written in 1979 stated that Thai troops forced about 45,000 Khmer refugees, including the old, the young, the sick and women, at gun-points to walk back to Cambodia through minefields near Preah Vihear temple. The report quoted Thai Prime Minister Kriangsak Chomanan as saying that Thailand was forced to take the steps to repatriate these refugees back to Cambodia because the international community did not come to their aid fast enough and had left Thailand to deal with these refugees alone.

Mr. Ir Chhana said he is trying to make efforts to take a class action against Thailand in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. “Thai leaders at that time massacred the Khmer people using the pretext that the UN did not come to help the Khmer refugees fast enough, so this is a really inhuman act. They should think of us (Khmer) as their fellow human-beings. They should help to save us and allow us to live (in Thailand) until the UN can come and help us. But they didn’t think like that. They knew many Cambodians have been killed inside our country (by the Khmer Rouge) and we just want to escape death in order to survive and they (the Thais) killed us again. The Khmer race had nearly become extinct! So, this is another genocide against the Khmer people, if we think carefully about it”, he said.

Mr. Khoeun Samkhann, a Khmer-American who is the editor and publisher of a poetry book “Oh! Maha Mount Dangrek!” which describes about Khmer refugee’s suffering in the Dangrek Mountain ranges at the hands of the Thai soldiers, said the commemoration service by Cambodians living in Norway is a good example. “That (the commemoration) is a good thing to do. It is the best thing we can do. I think that what they are doing now is an eternal remembrance, especially for those compatriots who have died. Another thing is that it is a very good testimony”, he said.

Mr. Samkhann encourages all Khmers around the world to hold this sort of ceremony to commemorate their spirit or to remind about the tragic event. He urged all families or relatives of the victims of that event to compile the documents or write their testimonies to tell the world on how the Thai soldiers pushed them down of the Dangrek Mountains into minefields so that they can find justice for them.