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Cambodia: 1983

1956: Cambodia

1957: Cambodia
1958: Cambodia
1959: Cambodia
1960: Cambodia
1961: Cambodia
1962: Cambodia
1963: Cambodia
1964: Cambodia
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1966: Cambodia
1967: Cambodia
1968: Cambodia
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1970: Cambodia
1971: Cambodia
1972: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
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1974: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
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1983: Cambodia
1984: Cambodia
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1998: Archaeology: Radar Reveals Hidden Ruins in Cambodia
1998: Cambodia: Hun Sen Declares Election Victory
1998: Pol Pot Dies at 73
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Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.


1983: Cambodia

The Heng Samrin government, upheld by Vietnamese occupation forces, tightened its grip over the population of Cambodia (Kampuchea), curtailing freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and contacts between Cambodians and foreigners. But the three principal resistance groups (the Communist Khmer Rouge, the non-Communist Khmer People's National Liberation Front, and Prince Norodom Sihanouk's National United Front) continued to oppose the regime and seek the ouster of its Vietnamese protectors.

Politics and government.

The Heng Samrin regime actively repressed the Buddhist faith, locking up pagodas for all but important holy days and forbidding religious instruction to lay people or novices. And although a new amnesty program for bureaucrats, officials, and soldiers of the former Khmer Rouge government of Pol Pot (deposed in 1979) was announced, non-Communist Cambodians still were prohibited from returning to the country. The government also inaugurated purges against suspected KPNLF sympathizers, reportedly arresting this summer some 300 officials in the northwestern province of Siem Reap, along with an unknown number of civilians.

In April reports that the Vietnamese government had initiated a program to install Vietnamese settlers in eastern Cambodia provoked an international outcry. Hanoi, confirming the resettlement program, said that it would bring economic gains to Cambodia. The resistance groups, together with several foreign governments, charged that it would lead to colonization. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese settlers in place ranged from 100,000 to 400,000.

Internal war.

Despite earlier pledges not to do so, Vietnamese forces launched a fierce dry-season offensive in Cambodia this year—the biggest such attack since their 1978 invasion of the country. Fighting began with small probes by the KPNLF against Vietnamese outposts. The Vietnamese responded late in January with a massive attack against the KPNLF camp at Nong Chan, destroying the homes of 40,000 refugees. Then, in March, Vietnamese forces overran an important Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Chat.

In April the Vietnamese pursued Cambodian resistance troops inside Thailand, where for the first time in the war the Vietnamese engaged in sustained combat with Thai forces. The Vietnamese also attacked the base camps of the National United Front, and by mid-April an estimated 50,000 Cambodian civilians had fled to Thailand to avoid the fighting. Refugee sources alleged that in the course of an assault on O Smach, Sihanouk's military headquarters, in early April, hundreds of civilians were massacred by the attacking forces.

The Vietnamese withdrew from their forward positions in late April, and on May 3 the Heng Samrin regime held a ceremony marking the alleged withdrawal of an estimated 10,000 Vietnamese troops from Cambodia. Thai intelligence sources claimed, however, that 2,000 fresh Vietnamese troops were sent to Cambodia the day after the ceremony.

Resistance groups.

In its first year of existence, the would-be coalition government of Democratic Kampuchea, formed in mid-1982 by the Khmer Rouge, the KPNLF, and the National United Front, suffered from internal strife but gained valuable foreign recognition. In June 1983, Sihanouk threatened to resign as president of the coalition after complaining that the KPNLF's Son Sann had secretly criticized him and that Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan had done so publicly. Tempers cooled on all sides, however, and a breakup of the coalition was averted.

In his role as president of the coalition, Sihanouk accepted the credentials of the ambassadors of Malaysia, China, North Korea, Bangladesh, and Mauritania at a ceremony held on the Thai-Cambodian border on April 30. A week earlier, French President François Mitterrand had welcomed Sihanouk to Paris with the honors accorded a visiting head of state, a gesture tending to counter the impression among some observers that France was leaning toward Vietnam on the Cambodian question.

Foreign affairs.

At the long-awaited Indochina summit meeting, convened in February in Vientiane, Laos, the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia formalized their relations as an emerging bloc dominated by Hanoi. The summit was hailed as a success by the three governments, who reiterated their strategy of waiting until the Cambodian resistance wears out and the Heng Samrin regime wins de facto foreign recognition. The resistance groups, on the other hand, saw the summit as proof of Hanoi's ambitions to "absorb" Cambodia.

The international diplomatic stalemate over Cambodia continued, despite efforts by several parties to initiate negotiations among the governments involved. In March, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach suggested unconditional talks between Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), but the Khmer Rouge said no. Two months later, the new Labor Party government of Australia offered to negotiate between the two sides, but although both camps said they welcomed the Australian initiative, no concrete proposals were made. Then, in June, Asean suggested opening a "dialogue" with Hanoi on separate parts of the problem; the Vietnamese, however, ignored the proposal. The Heng Samrin regime did announce in July that it would not insist on attending the proposed Indochina-Asean conference—a significant concession to the Asean states. Neither side, however, showed a willingness to make major changes in its position.

Food supply.

The rice crop this year was up some 30 percent, to an estimated 2 million metric tons. Nevertheless, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization predicted a food deficit of 100,000 metric tons for 1983, and a Unicef report issued this year found that 60 percent of the rural children in the country suffered from malnutrition.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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