Saturday, March 31, 2007

Will we abandon ours?

Via Flopping Aces :

The leader of Cambodia in 1975, wrote a letter to the US Ambassador John Dean as Mr. Dean made plans to evacuate him and his family out of the country in which the US would no longer help:
Dear Excellency and friend,

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion.

As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can do nothing about it. You leave us and it is my wish that you and your country will find happiness under the sky.

But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we are all born and must die one day. I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans.

Please accept, Excellency, my dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.

Sirik Matak.
He was executed within days of the Khmer Rouge taking power.


chuck said...

The father of one of my girlfrieds was a nisei in California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He didn't wait to be interned, instead he hitchhiked across the country and enlisted on the east coast. He fought throughout WWII, then in Korea and Vietnam. After Vietnam he left the service, he was disgusted by the country America had become. He also managed to smuggle at least one refugee into this country when he came home, but that is another story.

Buddy Larsen said...

Bet it's a helluva one. What a book the old guy must've had in him.

who, me? said...

There is the story of Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia, the German granddaughter of Queen Victoria who became as a young widow the abbess of a small order of nursing nuns. When the Russian Revolution was heating up, the Kaiser arranged her escape. She refused to leave, unless her Russian nuns could go with her.

She died in 1918 with others, thrown down a mine in the countryside. The locals reported hours of the sound of singing under the ground.

And Maximilian Kolbe, who stepped up for death by carbolic acid in a 1941 concentration camp so a famly man could survive the war. He too sang until the end.

At the beginning of Christians' Holy Week, and as citizens of a nation whose founders when circumstances required staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, we do well to ponder these noble choices in the face of such alternatives.

terrye said...

who me:

That was wonderful.

Buddy Larsen said...

It was that for sure.

Chhayrann said...

Sirik Matak was kicked out of the French Embassy to his death? French complicit to his death?

"I will have, within a deadline that cannot exceed 24 hours, to deliver the name of
these officials …"

January 16, 2007
Le Monde

The diplomatic telegrams, through their terseness, cut directly trough to the
essential. Those which were exchanged between the [French] consul, Jean Dyrac, and the Quai d'Orsay [the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs] show that the presence of Cambodian officials [inside the compound of the French embassy in Phnom Penh] was undesirable by Paris. Below are the main excerpts found in the legal file of the
Créteil court.

April 17, 1975, 12:45 PM, sent by Mr. Dyrac
The diplomat announced that Ung Bun Hor, President of the National Assembly, "had forced his entry" into the French embassy at 10:00 AM. "He pleaded for the right to asylum for the immediate protection of his life," the diplomat wrote. "With the assistance of security guards, I attempted, in vain, to push him out. He is
currently maintained under our control in one of the buildings. Furthermore, Prince
Sirik Matak tried to contact me by phone to ask also for asylum. I will be indebted
to the department to please let me know in extreme urgency, on how to deal with them in the case where the new authorities would ask that these officials be handed to them."

April 17, 1975, 12:50 PM, sent by Mr. Dyrac
"Prince Sirik Matak succeeded in entering the compound of our embassy by crossing
the gates, with two of his bodyguards in civilian clothes."

April 17, 1975, 02:09 PM, sent by the office of the Minister [of Foreign Affair] to
Mr. Dyrac
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented its viewpoint: impossible to
fulfill the demands made by the officials: "Therefore, it remains to them to
appreciate that it is in their interest to find refuge elsewhere and to quickly
leave the territory of our establishment ."

April 18, 1975, 03:18 PM, sent by Mr. Dyrac to the directors of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs
At 02:00 PM, the consul provided an update on the situation inside the embassy
compound. With an elegant euphemism, he explained that his talk with the
representatives of the city committee was held with "a reserved cordiality." The
Khmer Rouge expressed their "true satisfaction" for the recognition of the new
regime by the French government. They claimed that the general evacuation of Phnom Penh "which was deemed necessary, does not apply to embassies, and especially not to the French citizens," several weeks later the event turned out otherwise from the Khmer Rouge claim. Furthermore, the consul noted, the Khmer Rouge wished to see a list of the wounded which "will be provided to them." Another demand: being able to visit the embassy. "To which we replied with the promise of setting a list of people present within three days."

April 18, 1975, 03:18 PM, also sent by Mr. Dyrac
Cornered, fearing a forced entry into the embassy, the consul gave in on the rest.
"Following ultimatum of the city delegation committee, I find myself obliged, in
order to assure the safekeeping of our compatriots, to include in the list of people
present in the embassy: (1) Prince Sirik Matak and two of his officers; (2) Princess
Mom Manivong of Lao origin (3rd wife of Prince Sihanouk [She is also the mother of
Princess Arun Rasmy, the wife of Keo Puth Rasmey, the current F'pec president ]);
(3) Mr. Ung Bun Hor, the President of the National Assembly [added by KI-Media]; (4) Mr. Loeung Nal, Health Minister. Except for express and immediate order from the department charging me to give them political asylum, I will have, within a deadline that cannot exceed 24 hours, to deliver the name of these officials."

April 18, 1975, 06:10 PM, sent from the office of the Minister to Mr. Dyrac
"Please establish the list of names of Cambodian citizens who are inside the embassy
compound, so that it is ready to be provided at the expiration of the deadline which
was given to you."

April 20, 1975, 11:55 AM sent by Mr. Dyrac
"After my intervention, the city committee had authorized this morning the Cambodian citizens who took refuge in our embassy to get out freely, except for the officials of the old regime. The latter will be part of another group," the French consul explained.

April 20, 1975, 01:26 PM, from the Asian policy office of the Ministry to Mr. Dyrac
"Please provide detail on the conditions for the planned departure of the group of
officials from old regime."

April 20, 1975, 02:44 AM sent by Mr. Dyrac
"Prince Sirik Matak and other officials cited previously presented themselves in a
very dignified manner this afternoon to an unidentified committee (FUNK or ANL
[Armée Nationale de Libération, National Liberation Army]) which came to take them in Jeep in front of the embassy gate.

Article published on January 17, 2007