Interior Backs Kampuchea Krom Nationality

The Interior Ministry has agreed to end ambiguity in the citizenship rights of ethnic Khmers from Vietnam, and will start offering applicants Cambo­­dian nationality, ethnic Khmer rights workers said on Friday.

However, a senior police official said the Interior Ministry’s agreement was still contingent on support from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee—an um­brella group of seven advocacy organizations—said the Inter­ior Ministry agreed in a meeting on Friday to grant Cambodian citizenship to all ethnic Khmers from Vietnam who apply.

“The Ministry of Interior has agreed on three proposed suggestions,” San Sang, spokesman for the coordination committee, said after meeting with the interior officials.

No official documentation from Vietnam will be needed to qualifying for citizenship, and ethnic Khmers will not be prevented or harassed on entering Cambodia without proper immigration papers, he said.

San Sang said the ministry also agreed the term “Kampuchea Krom,” could be used as the official place of birth for ethnic Khmer from Vietnam.

Around 1 million ethnic Khmers living in Cambodia do not have papers recognizing them as citizens of this country, he said.

“We hope the government will keep its promise.”

Kampuchea Krom, a territory engulfing most of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, is home to some 12 million ethnic Khmers and has long been claimed as Cambodian territory.

Nuth Sa An, adviser to co-Inter­ior Minister Sar Kheng, said a committee will be set up to en­sure the agreement is implemented.

But a senior Interior Ministry official said no agreement had been reached, the only agreement was on accepting the advocacy groups’ proposals.

“The ministry did no agree yet, but accepted what they suggested,” the officials said on condition of anonymity.

“The Interior Ministry will have to discuss with the Prime Minis­ter,” he said.



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