An ethnic Khmer man was detained last week in Vietnam after returning from Cambodia with publications related to Vietnam’s ethnic Khmer community, while Cambodian police are reportedly searching for a man from Svay Rieng province who was the source of the books, a local organization claimed.
Vietnamese police detained Kim Vasna, 32, along with 11 other Khmer Krom, near the border Feb 15 when they returned from a relative’s wedding in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district, Thach Setha, president of the Kampuchea Krom Community, said Tuesday.
According to Thach Setha, Kim Vasna, 32, was searched and found to be carrying a third-grade Cambodian history book published by the Ministry of Education, a bulletin for Khmer Krom women and a book on the history of the Kampuchea Krom region, which was previously Cambodian territory but is now Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region.
The 11 were released shortly afterward, while Kim Vasna was detained until Feb 18 by Long An provincial police, Thach Setha said.
Svay Rieng provincial monitor for local human rights group Licadho, Mom Lyda, said he had been informed about the arrest in Vietnam of a Khmer Krom man, and that Cambodian police were also looking for a member of the Khmer Krom Friends Association.
SRP lawmaker Yout Tharo, who is also Khmer Krom, said that he had met a man, Srey Sothy, who had fled his home in Svay Rieng as a result of the Khmer Krom book investigation, which had led Cambodian police to search the man’s home.
Such a search is a “violation of the rule of law,” Yout Tharo said.
Srey Sothy, 61, said he was hiding from police, after his wife had warned him that five police officers and one Vietnamese police officer had visited his house in Chantrea district Thursday.
Svay Rieng provincial deputy police Chief Leuk Chamroeun said he had only heard about both cases through the media.