Europe Tells Vietnam To End Violation of Khmer

The European Parliament issued a resolution last week calling for Vietnam to put an end to the “current systematic violation of democracy and human rights” in that country; paying particular attention to issues facing Vietnam’s ethnic Khmer community. 

The resolution, which passed overwhelmingly Oct 22, recommends that the EU reassess its relationship with Vietnam before finalizing a “partnership and cooperation agreement.” EU and Vietna­mese officials had held a round of talks in Hanoi regarding the agreement Oct 20 and 21, according to a copy of the resolution.

The EU resolution lists a number of alleged Vietnamese human rights abuses, including the plight of the Khmer Krom, which ac­cording to the resolution have “suffered religious persecution and land confiscation.”

The resolution specifically calls for Vietnam to end the detention of Khmer Krom Buddhist monk Tim Sakhorn.

The abbot of a pagoda in Takeo province, Tim Sakhorn disappeared in June 2007 shortly after being defrocked by Cambodian religious authorities for allegedly un­dermining the relationship bet­ween Phnom Penh and Hanoi. He turned up some weeks later in a Vietnamese prison and was sentenced to prison for political crimes. He has been under house arrest since being released from prison in May of this year.

The EU resolution calls on the Vietnamese government “to immediately provide full freedom from house arrest to…Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn.”

Vietnamese Embassy spokes­man Trinh Ba Cam could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Oct 22 remarks from Vietnam’s Min­istry of Foreign Affairs spokes­man Le Dzung deny the assertions in the EU resolution.

“[T[he adoption by European Parliament of a resolution that does not correctly reflect Vietnam’s situation, lays down groundless conditions and negatively impacts the good cooperation between Viet­nam and the European Union is unacceptable,” Le said in remarks posted to the Foreign Affairs Min­istry Web site.



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