TV Documentary Says British Soldiers Trained Khmer Rouge Guerrillas
LONDON (AP) _ A television documentary claims British soldiers have been training Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge guerrillas, and opposition legislators said they will press for a government explanation.
The Foreign Office denied allegations by the documentary broadcast Tuesday that commandos of the Army’s elite Special Air Service regiment were involved in helping the Communist group. ″We have never given and will never give aid of any sort to the Khmer Rouge,″ it said in a statement.
The TV program’s director says the assistance began in 1985, and he claims that Britain helped the guerrillas at the request of the United States.
George Foulkes, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Labor Party, said the film demonstrated that ″the Foreign Office statement is incorrect. The television evidence seemed well-documented.″
Hundreds of thousands of people died from starvation, execution and disease during the Khmer Rouge’s rule in Cambodia from 1975 until Vietnam invaded in late 1978. A civil war involving the guerrillas continues today.
The Khmer Rouge is now the largest and strongest organization in a three- faction guerrilla coalition opposed to the Vietnamese-installed government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. The other two groups are non-Communist.
The Foreign Office said in July that Britain shared U.S. determination to prevent the Khmer Rouge from taking power.
The hourlong TV program, ″Viewpoint 90: Cambodia, the Betrayal,″ was made for Central Television by journalist John Pilger and shown on the Independent Television network. It alleged that Special Air Service men trained Khmer Rouge guerrillas in Malaysia and Thailand. It said Britain’s MI6 espionage agency was heavily involved in the covert operation.
The director of the program, David Monroe, said in a radio interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday:
″Since 1985 in various forms the British government has supplied military training directly to the Khmer Rouge in guerrilla warfare, basic mines technology and mine-laying techniques.
″From 1985 until about November of last year there were serving SAS officers who were training directly the Khmer Rouge.″
Asked in the BBC interview why Britain would want to train the Khmer Rouge, Monroe claimed the United States was trying to get others to ″do the dirty work for them.″ He said Britain undertook the task to repay U.S. favors during the 1982 Falklands War.
He added: ″The idea is to get in place in Phnom Penh a government that is anti-Vietnamese. However, I don’t think anybody actually wants to see the Khmer Rouge take power.″