Since early 1970, the Khmer Republic -- then known as Cambodia -- has been actively involved in the Indo-China war.
GV Trees & Communist held area in B/G PAN TO deserted remains of house
GV Wrecked house ZOOM BACK TO people working in field
CU Old man farming
SV Farmers loading crop into baskets
SV Farmer watering field
SV Buffalos pulling plough seen through ruined building
GV Farmer ploughing
GV Woman & child in bullock cart past camera followed by cattle
GV Young boy (a soldier) along road to boy fishing
CU Boy fishing as other boy looks at catch
CU Both boys ZOOM OUT TO boy fishing out tiddler
SV Boy soldier joined by adult soldiers
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Since early 1970, the Khmer Republic -- then known as Cambodia -- has been actively involved in the Indo-China war.
The real fighting in Cambodia started in March that year, after Prince Norodom Sihanouk was ousted as head of state. The Prince had tolerated the presence of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong units in Cambodian sanctuaries along the South Vietnamese border. After his fall, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces fanned out into the Cambodian countryside, where they met limited resistance from a small and ill-prepared army of 30-thousand man. The communists were aided by the Khmer Rouge, a popular rebel movement that existed even before Sihanouk was deposed. It is basically communist.
With United States aid, the government of President Lon Nol expanded the army to 150-thousand men by October, 1970, when the Khmer Republic was proclaimed. Now, the Khmer Army has a strength of over 200-thousand.
The war has not gone well for the Khmer Army. Some military experts said there never was any real hope that the army, on its own, would be able to defend the entire country, much of which is barely inhabited.
The Khmer population, of about seven million, is concentrated along the country's river valleys and in a few major towns, linked by a tenuous and vulnerable road system. Much of the fighting has been over these roads -- the Communists fighting to close them and government forces counter-attacking to open them again.
Prince Sihanouk's Government-In-Exile -- based in Peking -- claims to control 85 per cent of the countryside and five million of the population. Though this figure is exaggerated, there is no question that the Communists control large areas of the country and can put pressure on the capital Phnom Penh -- denying it access to much of the food growing areas. There have also been rocket attacks on the capital.
Despite the hardships of the past, and the uncertainties of the future, the Khmers are still a happy people who have not lost many of the bassi values instilled in them by centuries of Buddhist culture. A VISNEWS correspondent, Neil Davis says the "smiling, never-say-die spirit of the Khmer people is the overwhelming impression one has when travelling through the land". This film is about these people.
SYNOPSIS: The Khmer Republic....Beyond the trees, in the jungle, Communist forces are operating. Since the country became actively involved in the Indo-Chine war, much of the land has been abandoned. Many towns -- once attractive -- are being lost to the jungle as just a few hardy villagers hang on, sometimes to nothing more than the shell of their homes.
Their troubles don't seem to have dampened their spirits.
The war, and a nationwide drought, have out back the food crops drastically. Many small farmers are prepared to work long hours on their paddies and fields for little reward. But others, who have not felt so strongly attached to the land, have swelled the ranks of refugees in Phnom Penh, the republic's capital.
It's estimated that one million people -- that's one ink every seven of the population -- are refugees. The roads leading to the capital carry a constant stream of them.
The war has forced many changes on the Khmers, a people tempered by centuries of Buddhism. Now, the army includes thousands of boys of twelve years of age. And some are as young as ten. They may carry lethal weapons, but they are still boys at heart.
When Prince Norodom Sihanouk was overthrown in nineteen-seventy, the army was a militia of thirty thousand man. It was badly trained and poorly equipped. Now, its strength is more than two-hundred-thousand. And the weapons are modern and made in America.