The Cambodia–Vietnam Friendship Monument stands in a normally peaceful park near the center of Phnom Penh. But that peace has been shattered on a number of occasions, by political activists who see the monument more as a memorial to the Vietnamese occupation.
On December 25, 1978, Vietnam invaded the state of Democratic Kampuchea in present-day Cambodia. Its ultimately successful goal was the removal of the Khmer Rouge government from power, but the invasion also led to a 10-year occupation of the country.
In 1979, the occupying Vietnamese built a large concrete monument in Botum Park, not far from the Royal Palace in the heart of Phnom Penh. Built in the distinctly communist socialist-realist style, it features two soldiers standing side-by-side, one Vietnamese and one Cambodian, with a Cambodian woman holding a baby as she stands under their protective gaze. Behind them rises the concrete tower, its top decorated with gold.
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