Kampuchea Krom petition against rights abuses

Source: Khmer Times

A Kampuchea Krom monk pleads his case for his community to have equal rights in Vietnam. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Kampuchea Krom community will today petition the Vietnamese government to stop restricting the rights of its citizens living in Vietnam.
The move comes 68 years after the French secession of Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam.
Ten organisations affiliated to the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association have signed the petition.
Son Chum Chuon, programme director at the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association, said members of the community faced religious, educational and socio-economic restrictions, as well as a lack of access to cultural information.
He said: “The Khmer Krom are still facing many challenges from Vietnamese government restrictions, so we are submitting a petition asking them to deal with these issues.”
Kampuchea Krom representatives delayed their annual commemoration of the day their territory was lost to Vietnam, because of a clash with the commune elections.
The community usually remembers those who sacrificed their lives to defend the freedom of the Kampuchea Krom on June 4 every year.
It was on that day in 1949 that French colonisers gave the 21 provinces where the Kampuchea Krom live to Vietnam.
This year, memorial events will be held on June 24 instead.
The president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community and former senator Thach Setha, said this year’s commemoration would be held at Wat Chas Pagoda in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district.
Relating to the issues facing Kampuchea Krom citizens in Vietnam, Mr Setha said:
“The monks and people there have been living with extremely difficulty under the control of Vietnam over the past 68 years.
“They are also treated by the Vietnamese authorities as a minority living on their own homeland.
“This does not only concern their rights as owners of the territory itself.
“Fundamental rights stipulated in all international conventions and treaties have also been violated almost completely by the current Vietnamese authorities.”
However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the government had helped people living in Kampuchea Krom to access the same rights as Vietnamese citizens.
He said Kampuchea Krom organisations should raise the issue with the United Nations, since Cambodia cannot intervene in another territory.
He said: “Vietnam is a sovereign nation; citizens living there actually belong to Vietnam although they are recognised as ethnically Khmer.
“International law, human rights and political rights have always been granted to those who live in Kampuchea Krom as Vietnamese citizens.”
The Vietnamese Embassy to Cambodia could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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