Kampuchea Krom Protests End Amid Threats

As five days of anti-Vietnamese protests came to a close Wednesday, one of the leaders of the rallies, which saw multiple Vietnamese flags burned in front of the Vietnamese Embassy, said that he had received multiple death threats.

Since Saturday, protesters have been marching through the city and to the Vietnamese Embassy to demand an apology for comments made in June by then-embassy spokesman Tran Van Thong, who in a radio interview rejected claims that the Kampuchea Krom provinces—now southern Vietnam—belonged to Cambodia before colonial France ceded them in 1949.

Thach Setha, head of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, addresses protesters Wednesday outside the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, on the last day of a five-day demonstration to demand an apology for comments made by an embassy spokesman in June. (John Vink)
Thach Setha, head of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, addresses protesters Wednesday outside the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, on the last day of a five-day demonstration to demand an apology for comments made by an embassy spokesman in June. (John Vink)

Thach Setha, who heads the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, which has been at the forefront of the protests, said that over the past three days, he had received a number of threatening phone calls from a man speaking Vietnamese.

“[The caller] threatened to shoot me if I didn’t stop coming to the [Vietnamese] Embassy, because he has his many soldiers in Cambodia,” Mr. Setha said.

Mr. Setha said most of the calls came from a private number, but that the first several had an Ontario, Canada, area code. When a reporter called the number Wednesday, an English-speaking man who identified himself as Tuan said he knew nothing about the death threats.

Before hanging up, Mr. Tuan said he moved from Vietnam to Canada 20 years ago, but has not been back since and has never heard of the Khmer Krom.

Mr. Setha said he was not worried about the threats, but informed authorities anyway.

“We did [the protest] in Khmer territory,” he said. “We have shown our braveness and we will not withdraw.”

Mr. Setha said his group’s next move was to wait for a response to petitions protesters delivered to the U.N. and National Assembly on Tuesday requesting help in getting an apology from the Vietnamese Embassy.

dara@cambodiadaily.com, mueller@cambodiadaily.com

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