Nearly 100 Cambodian refugees staged a demonstration Thursday to protest recent Vietnamese raids on Cambodian refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border. The Vietnamese attacks have left hundreds dead over the last two weeks.
The protesters, who included local Cambodian businessmen, women and children, marched behind U.S. and Cambodian flags and carried signs outside the Los Angeles Press Club. They also chanted "U.S. help free Cambodia," and burned Vietnamese and Soviet flags.
The chanting was led by Thach Soun, an actor in the movie "The Killing Fields," which tells of a reporter's efforts to rescue his Cambodian photographer after Khmer Rouge guerrillas toppled the U.S.-supported government in 1970.
40,000 in Southland
Several Cambodian refugee organizations, representing an estimated 40,000 Cambodians living in Southern California, participated in the rally. They were joined by the support committee for the Khmer People's National Liberation Front, a major Cambodian resistance group formed in 1979 to resist Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia.
Than Poc, spokesman for an organization called the United Cambodian Community, issued a plea to the American people to become more aware of the Cambodians' long struggle for an independent homeland. He asked that they urge the U.S. government to give economic aid, arms and ammunition to the Cambodian rebel forces fighting the "Vietnamization" of Cambodia.
"Vietnam has over 180,000 troops in Cambodia," Poc said. "They kill or put in jail all Cambodians who care about Cambodia. In the countryside, North Vietnamese troops rape Cambodian women and murder them in the rice fields. They use chemical bombs and yellow rain to exterminate our race and nation from the world map."
"We want the American people to understand what happens in Cambodia," said Lieath Uch, 35, who marched in the protest with her husband and three small children. She and her family left Cambodia in 1975, but her parents and a sister who stayed behind are now dead.
On Dec. 25, 1984, Vietnamese troops overran most of the Rithisen refugee camp, which is near the Thai border in Cambodia. Hundreds of Cambodians and Vietnamese have been reported killed or wounded.