115. Telegram From the Embassy in Cambodia to the Department of State 1

908. Embassy under heavy demonstration and rock throwing attack from 9 am this morning and attack still going on at time this message being sent. First signs impending demonstration noted 0820. Informed presences crowds arriving given instructions by older men, report reached Embassy thru local employee. Demonstration scheduled for 10 am.

Actual demonstration started 9:00 a.m. led by group bearing placards indicating it was from Ministry Information of Cambodian Government. Just before demonstration began, men carrying red paint tins and brushes painted sign “US go home” on Embassy and USIS buildings. Police who were standing by in increased numbers made no effort interfere with them. SecState for Agriculture Chau Seng observed directing traffic of procession two blocks away from Embassy. SecState for Information Tim Dong observed taking prominent part in organization of procession, which included pre-printed placards and banderolles. After about twenty minutes of peaceful procession past Embassy, violence began with rock throwing. Within twenty minutes, violence had increased to point where virtually every window in Embassy and USIS broken, and at least one official vehicle completely destroyed. At time drafting this, no one has yet been able to venture out of building attempt assess total extent of damage.

No Embassy employees injured, and no indication demonstration has spread to residential portions of city, although at this moment telephone communications outside Embassy cut off. There can be no possible doubt this demonstration occurred with knowledge and permission, if not actual cooperation, RKG. At 8:25, suspecting demonstration was in wind, I spoke on telephone to highest ranking FonOff official I could reach, Director of PolAffrs Chan Youran. He said SecState FonAffrs Sambath not available but he (Chan Youran) would attempt convey to Sambath soonest my communication. At 9:28, with telephone communication still possible, I again telephoned FonOff and spoke with Sambathʼs private secretary (he was reported still unavailable), protesting in strongest terms against failure police give Embassy protection required by international law and practice. Private secretary again promised he would attempt convey my message to Sambath.

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At 9:45, with violence at its peak and all personnel inside Embassy building gathered for protection into most secure area, police began making feeble efforts hold demonstrators back. At present time (11:14) demonstration has ended and police are holding back crowds at some distance. Quick survey reveals massive damage ground floor of Embassy into which demonstrators penetrated by breaking down front doors. Further reports damage will be sent soonest.

I shall continue my efforts see Sambath and shall, unless Department immediately instructs otherwise, repeat to him strongest protest against this demonstration.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CAMB. Unclassified; Flash. Passed to the White House, CIA, and National Military Communication Center. There was no time of dispatch on the source text, which arrived at the Department of State at 11:36 p.m.
  2. Spivack reported that he met with Huot Sambath, Cambodiaʼs Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at 6 p.m. on March 11. Sambath immediately stated that Cambodia regretted the violence against the U.S. Embassy and offered compensation for the damage. Spivack said he would inform the Department of Sambathʼs expressions of regret and offer of compensation, but he had to protest the fact that the demonstration had at least Cambodian Governmentʼs approval. (Telegram 914 from Phnom Penh, March 11; Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CAMB)