Home > Local News > Vietnam and Cambodia join force to threaten Khmer Krom people

Vietnam and Cambodia join force to threaten Khmer Krom people

By Kim Pov
Cambodia Today Via Ki-Media
Source: Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Soch

 
 
Discrimination against Khmer Krom
people living in Cambodia still remains even though high ranking
Cambodian officials claimed that Khmer Krom people are full Cambodian
citizens.
Beating of Khmer Krom monks by cops serving the atheist regime in Phnom Penh
(Photo: Reuters)
Source from the Khmer Krom
Association in Cambodia indicated that no Khmer Krom people are seen
fleeing Kampuchea Krom (South Vietnam) to seek refuge in Cambodia
during the period starting from the end of 2010 until now.
Ven. Chan Sophat, President of
the Khmer Krom monk-students and students, said that even if the
fleeing situation by Khmer Krom refugees has calmed down, it does not
mean that the situation in Kampuchea Krom has been better. Quite to the
contrary, the slowdown in the fleeing of Khmer Krom is due to pressure
in Kampuchea Krom and the difficulties faced by Khmer Krom people in
Cambodia, in particular the intense discrimination they face in
Cambodia currently: “They have many ways in [Kampuchea] Krom, sometimes
they try to act nice with you, but they also threaten you when they can
do it.”
Talking over the phone with RFA
from Kampuchea Krom, Mrs. Neang Han, a 45-year-old woman, discussed
about land protests and other protests led by Khmer Krom people which
are no longer taking place after a lot of them were arrested and jailed
one after another, and also some resolution with small token provided
[to the protesting Khmer Krom people] were observed following the
protests.

Mrs. Neang Han added that many of
those who oppose the Viets would rather keep quiet even though they are
pleased or displeased with the resolution given to them and they no
longer dare flee to Cambodia like before anymore because when they flee
to Cambodia, they were arrested and sent back to their village. Some of
those who flee were also arrested after they were sent back to their
village: “Threat is like no threat, because when they flee to Cambodia,
they are afraid to be arrested, they cannot return to their homeland
[Cambodia], just like Uncle [Chau] Hen, he received a letter from the
UNHCR and everything, but they still persecuted him.”
A report from the Cambodian
ministry of Interior (MoI) indicated that, up to now, there are 86,000
Khmer Krom people living in Cambodia. These Khmer Krom people entered
Cambodia for trade, for studying and also to flee the Viet authority.
Ven. Chan Sophat claimed that
the discrimination against Khmer Krom people in Cambodia is still a
serious problem, for example, the problem of obtaining Cambodian
identification papers is a major problem face by Khmer Krom people and
this affects their livelihood. They also face various other social
pressures as well. “When they arrived [in Cambodia], they are Cambodian
citizen according to the law. However, they have to face many problems,
such as obtaining paperworks. Normally speaking, there is no problem,
but they need paperworks for identification.”
Mr. Thach Ngoc Thach, President
of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), indicated that the
Cambodian authority did not protect nor take care to defend Khmer Krom
people, unlike the Viet authority which pay a great deal of attention
to the welfare of their citizens. To the contrary, he explained that
the Cambodian authority threatens, pressures and interferes deeply in
the affair of Khmer Krom associations. The Cambodian authority is also
applying pressure and they tighten the freedom of Khmer Krom people, in
addition to conducting surveillance on them. “As for the Viet citizens,
each week, they organize all kind of programs, such as education
program and, quite to the contrary, for the Khmer authority, not only
they do not pay attention to Khmer Krom people living in Cambodia, but
it also does not pay attention to the Khmer Krom people living in
Kampuchea Krom either. We never see any high-ranking Khmer leaders
paying attention to the plight of their own people, all that they do is
to recite the 2 or 3 lines in the Constitution.”
He added that, for Khmer Krom
people in Cambodia, living without proper Cambodian identification
amounts to living without freedom and these Khmer Krom people face life
dangers constantly. While the Cambodian authority does not provide them
with identification papers, nor does it pay attention to the plight of
the Khmer Krom people, Khmer Krom people who are being pursued by the
Viet authority could not obtain help from the UNHCR to seek refugee
status even though they had fled to Cambodia or Thailand already.
As of 19 Feb 2011, we still
could not obtain clarification from the MoI on this issue. General
Khieu Sopheak, the MoI spokesman, indicated that he was busy. However,
in the past, Khieu Sopheak used to declare that Khmer Krom people are
considered full Cambodian citizens when they enter Cambodia. Therefore,
there is no need for them to ask for Cambodian citizenship, nor do they
have any reason to ask for refugee status in Cambodia either.
In March 2010, the UNHCR in
Bangkok turned down the request made by 18 Khmer Krom family members to
be resettled in a third country after these Khmer Krom people fled
their arrest by the Viet authority because they stood up to protest and
demand back their land and rice fields confiscated by the Viet
authority.
Mr. Chau Hen, a representative
of the Khmer Krom protesters, returned back to his village in Kampuchea
Krom, only to face arrest and sent to jail when he arrived there.
 
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