Gov’t Condemns Murder of Ethnic Vietnamese

The government this weekend condemned the murders of ethnic Vietnamese, vowing to arrest and prosecute the killers.

Police, however, said Sunday no arrests have been made in connection with the killings.

At least four ethnic Vietnamese have been killed since Thursday by angry mobs, who accused the victims of being responsible for putting poison in food and water.

The municipal police official in charge of foreigners, Mok Chito, put the number of attacks since Thursday at 11, including one Friday night on Monivong Boule­vard during which a woman who was being beaten was rescued by police, he said.

There have been no further attacks or killings he said. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu So­pheak on Sunday also said he knew of no additional killings.

The government statement, released Saturday, was broadcast repeatedly on state-run television and radio over the weekend as rumors continued to circulate following the deaths last week of dozens of people from tainted rice wine.

“The government strongly condemns this barbarous and inhumane act,” it stated, referring to the mob murders. “The government stresses it will investigate, find the criminals  and the leaders and send them to court to be tried in accordance with the law.”

At least two of the murders have been attributed to people affiliated with opposition party protests, human rights workers told Agence France-Presse, and they said the opposition has taken advantage of the food poisoning scare for political purposes.

The anti-Hanoi rhetoric used by opposition politicians during the election is believed to have fueled the fears that food and water around the city has been contaminated by ethnic Vietna­mese residents.

“All of these people are ethnic Vietnamese and without a doubt it is related to the political rhet­oric,” a senior UN official told AFP, referring to the ongoing op­position rallies protesting the official results of the July elections.

The Vietnam Embassy has also blamed anti-Hanoi mood on opposition politicians. On Sat­urday, it issued a statement slamming articles in two opposition newspapers, Samleng Yuvachon Khmer (Voice of Khmer Youth), Mon­eaksekar Khmer (Khmer Ideo­logy). The articles, which the em­bassy called “fabricated and ill intentioned” claimed that widespread poisoning was a Viet­nam­ese plot to kill Cam­bodians.

“The foreign policy of Vietnam is constantly to see a Cambodia of independence, peace stability, neutrality, non-alignment, and prosperity and having friendly relations with all countries,” it stated.

London-based Amnesty Inter­national on Friday condemned the killings and called upon opposition politicians to stop using inflammatory language and their supporters not to use violence.

(Reporting by Kay Kimsong, Touch Rotha and Debra Boyce)

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