Phnom Penh (FN), June 20 – Cambodia’s Defence Ministry commemorated the 43rd anniversary of the historical journey that led to the overthrow of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime.

Senior defence officials, the Vietnamese ambassador and foreign embassies’ Attachè, with thousands of people today gathered at Tbong Khmum province’s Koh Thmar village near the Vietnamese border.

June 20 is a reminder of Hun Sen’s struggle to liberate Cambodian people after defecting from his position as the Khmer Rouge’s deputy regimental commander in Region 21 of the Eastern Zone.

Comrade Hun Sen and four of his trusted soldiers – Nhek Huon, Nuch Than, San Sanh, and Paor Ean started their long trek to Vietnam at 9 p.m on 20 June 1977 to seek assistance to fight for national freedom.

Death by a Vietnamese bullet was preferable to a living death under the Khmer Rouge regime, wrote the Mehta couples in a famous book “Hun Sen: Strongman of Cambodia”.

The premier’s crossing point on the Cambodian side was the tiny Koh Thmar village in Kompong Cham’s Memot district and just ahead lay the forbidding Vietnamese district of Loc Ninh in Song Be province.

“Before stepping on Vietnamese soil, I looked back toward Cambodia with tears and emotionally recalled [at the age of 13, I left my hometown because there were no schools, and at 25 I fled my country because of the butchers],” the premier recalled.

Many have wondered that without the sacrifices, would Cambodian people be able to enjoy the freedom and living in peace as today?

Cambodian historians have stated that without the struggles of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the patriotic Khmer dignitaries to rise up for national liberation, the nation and the people of Cambodia would not have survived the Pol Pot regime.