Protesters Ask Cambodian Parliament Head to Demand Apology From Vietnam

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Khmer Krom monks hold religious flags during a protest in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, Aug.11, 2014.
Khmer Krom monks hold religious flags during a protest in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, Aug.11, 2014.

Hundreds of monks and other representatives from Vietnam’s Khmer Krom ethnic minority living in Cambodia held a protest Wednesday calling on Phnom Penh to demand an apology from Hanoi for statements claiming historic ownership over disputed territory, activists said.

They protested outside the Vietnamese embassy and distributed petitions to foreign embassies in the capital Phnom Penh asking that Cambodian Parliament President Heng Samrin extract the apology during his visit to Vietnam next week.

Thach Setha, speaking on behalf of the protesters, said Heng Samrin should take the opportunity to request the Vietnamese government to apologize for a June statement made by an embassy official claiming that Khmer Kampuchea Krom provinces had long been under Vietnam’s control.

The embassy official, Trung Van Thong, had said that Khmer Kampuchea Krom, a region comprising much of present-day southern Vietnam, belonged to Vietnam even before it was officially ceded to it by France in 1949.

“Our petition requests that the President of Parliament bring up the issue with the [Vietnamese] government for faking history,” he said.

The demonstration on Wednesday was the culmination of three days of peaceful protests.

Demonstrators thanked the authorities for letting them hold the protest which began at the popular Freedom Park, recently reopened after being closed for most of the year following deadly violence in the capital.

At the park, they sang nationalist songs and shared and read history books about Khmer Krom territory before part of the group marched to the Vietnamese embassy and other foreign diplomatic missions where they delivered petitions calling for intervention by foreign governments on the territorial dispute.

Protesters submitted petitions to the embassies of Malaysia and Singapore on Wednesday. They had sent similar notes previously to the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia. 

Boycott of Vietnamese goods

Demonstrators also appealed to the Cambodian people to boycott Vietnamese goods until Vietnam apologized.

One protester from Kampong Speu province said the gathering also expressed frustration over illegal Vietnamese immigration.

“We want [illegal] [Vietnamese] immigrants to go back to their country,” he said.

The poor treatment and restricted freedom of ethnic Khmer Krom in Vietnam was another issue highlighted by the demonstrators, he explained.

“We demand that the Khmer Krom people living in Khmer Krom territory enjoy the same freedom as Khmer living in Cambodia because Kampuchea Krom is also part of Khmer land,” he stated.


France’s Cochinchina colony, which included the former provinces of Kampuchea Krom, was officially ceded to Vietnam in 1949, but had been under Vietnamese control since the mid-17th century.

One of the most important seaports of Kampuchea Krom, once called Prey Nokor, is now known as Ho Chi Minh City—the financial hub of Vietnam and one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia.

Since Hanoi took control, the Khmer Krom living in Vietnam—believed to number considerably more than one million and who are ethnically similar to most Cambodians—have increasingly faced social persecution and strict religious controls, according to rights groups.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has said the Khmer Krom face serious restrictions of freedom of expression, assembly, association, information, and movement in Vietnam.  

The Vietnamese government has banned Khmer Krom human rights publications and tightly controls the practice of Theravada Buddhism by the minority group, which sees the religion as a foundation of their distinct culture and ethnic identity.

On the other side of the border, the Khmer Krom who leave Vietnam for Cambodia remain one of the country’s “most disenfranchised groups,” Human Rights Watch said.

Because they are often perceived as Vietnamese by Cambodians, many Khmer Krom in Cambodia face social and economic discrimination.

They also face hurdles in legalizing their status in the country as authorities have failed to grant many Khmer Krom citizenship or residence rights despite promises to treat them as Cambodian citizens, according to Human Rights Watch.

Reported by RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Sok Ry Sum. Written in English by Di Hoa Le.

Comments (5)

Anonymous Reader

This is a poorly written, or poorly translate article. There are many factual errors. The spoke person from the Vietnamese embassy claimed that Khmer Kampuchea Krom/South Cambodia was already under Vietnamese control in the mid 15th century. Now you says that it under control by the Vietnamese(Youn)in the mid 17th century. There were some of them the Vietnames/Youn living in Khmer territory but those provinces were clearly still under Khmer rule. This is same main issue that the protesters are demanding apology for, that the embassy was denying historical facts. There are many officially documents from different sources so the Vietnamese can't just create some made up history to suit their agenda.

Aug 14, 2014 05:33 AM

Anonymous Reader

"France’s Cochinchina colony, which included the former provinces of Kampuchea Krom, was officially ceded to Vietnam in 1949, but had been under Vietnamese control since the mid-17th century."

Yes Kampuchea Krom is part of that Cochinchina. Who was controlling Kampuchea Krom before the French came in? According to Khmer, they controlled Kampuchea Krom. But Vietnamese say they did before the French. Some say there were no borders, and that many factions were fighting to control the area until the French came in. Who is right, who is wrong? They need to dig up old documents to clear it all up.

Aug 14, 2014 12:32 PM

khmer kid

from battambang

Khmer needs to asks themselves this very important question: if the people cannot even rely on the Hun Sen government for finding justice for themselves and the entire country, then what is the likely hood that a communist Vietnamese government will apologize for anything under its control? Khmer needs the support from their own government and the international community to shine light on this issue.

Aug 14, 2014 05:08 AM

Pol Pot

The "Khmer Krom" are either too underdeveloped or too dense to look for their perdition.Let me, Pol Pot as the evilest of Asia, help you with some irresistible facts:
- After ther WWII Germany lost a big chunk of land to Russia, France and Poland. If Germany demands it back the WW-III might break out and the earth might be evaporated.
- Israel lost its nation 2000 years ago and came back after the WW-II, enlarged itself to this present State. The Palestinian run presently into perdition because they don't accept the brutal fact that the Stronger is always right.

Aug 14, 2014 04:17 AM

Anonymous Reader

More rambling from this foreign pig, who knows nothing about everything....blah blah blah has no value whatsoever.

Aug 14, 2014 07:31 PM

Pol Pot

If the populist Sam Rainsy instigates his gullible fellow Khmer to run into perdition for his personal gains like his father, his grandfather. He is worse than me, Pol Pot as the evilest Man of Asia. The Viet pigs are communists like Chinese pigs. Communist pigs never give back anything that they have hogged. Tibet, Xinjiang for China. South Vietnam for Vietnam (since 19 century.)
If the most underdeveloped Khmer could become "Asian Israeli" (LOL) they probably could take back and invade Hanoi. What a temptation...LOL

Aug 14, 2014 04:17 AM

Pol Pot

Newly I've engaged into a stupid discussion with an underdeveloped Khmer who believed that I was a Hun Sen's stooge. As long as I criticize Hun Sen I am his friend. When I started to see Sam Rainsy with objective, critical eyes I got verbal attack from those who claim to be DEMOCRATIC. If they don't tolerate my view, a view of an European, how can they tolerate the plain Khmer people when they came to power with their idol Sam Rainsy? Probably worse than Hun Sen.

Aug 14, 2014 09:36 AM

Anonymous Reader

blah blah blah from a psychopath talking to himself. He belongs in a mental institution. Never ever trust someone who proudly calling himself Pol Pot, a mentally deranged person who pretended to be someone else...LOL

Aug 14, 2014 07:42 PM

Anonymous Reader

There is no shame in saying sorry.

Aug 14, 2014 01:52 AM

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