54 Years Later, Khmer Krom Remember

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community marked the 54th anniversary of the loss of its territory to Vietnam on Wednes­day.

Seven hundred Kampuchea Krom people from across Cambo­dia attended a ceremony in front of the National Museum that was funded by a $2,000 donation from King Norodom Sihanouk.

The president of the Khmer Kam­puchea Krom Community, Thach Setha, said he has sent petitions to National Assembly Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Senate President Chea Sim, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the King, asking them to lobby the French government to abandon the 1949 law that gave Kampuchea Krom territory to Vietnam.

“We want the French government to…hand over the territory back to us, as this law allows the Vietnamese government to put pressure on the Khmer Krom people,” Thach Setha said at the ceremony.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, an umbrella organization of smaller groups, planned to walk from the site of the ceremony to the French Em­bas­sy to petition the ambassador Wednesday. The city denied them permission.

In a letter sent to the community’s leaders, Phnom Penh Gover­nor Kep Chuktema said, “Phnom Penh municipality couldn’t offer permission because it will affect security and public protection for the Asean Ministers’ Meeting,” scheduled for June 16 to June 18.

Thach Setha called the governor’s refusal to grant permission to march an abuse of human rights. Nevertheless, he canceled the march.

Thach Setha said he was due to meet with French Ambassador Andre-Jean Libourel late Wednes­day to present the petition and try to persuade him to support it.

France should “re-examine the law [which of­fered the territory to Vietnam], because the law was made without consulting the native people,” the petition said.

“Actually, when the French government stopped colonizing the Khmer Krom territory, the French government should have handed over the land to the Khmer Krom people,” it said.

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