At least 600 Khmer Kampuchea Krom are planning to gather at Phnom Penh’s Mekong Hotel to observe Human Rights Day on Wednesday, a function organizer said Monday.
Director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee, Kim Vanchheng, said that 500 Kampuchea Krom people and 100 monks from Kandal, Phnom Penh and Takeo provinces are expected to attend.
Speeches calling on Vietnam’s government to respect the human rights of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom and urging Cambodians not to discriminate against their own ethnicity, regardless of Vietnamese citizenship, will be made, Kim Vanchheng said.
“The Cambodian people are biased against the Kampuchea Krom people. They accuse the Kampuchea Krom people of being Vietnamese because they cannot speak clearly,” he said, referring to his people’s unique accent and dialect.
“The Vietnamese government is abusing the human rights of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom. They don’t allow them to speak freely and the Kampuchea Krom people cannot establish Khmer schools to study in,” he said.
He said Khmer Kampuchea Krom are prohibited from speaking about Cambodian politics or groups that lobby for their improved conditions. If Kampuchea Krom people want their children to study Khmer, they must send them to a pagoda, he added.
Kim Vanchheng also accused Cambodian authorities of ignoring the Kampuchea Krom people, saying that official documents such as identity cards and family books are rarely issued to people from the former Cambodian territory.
The committee has notified the necessary authorities to attain permission for its gathering. Map Sarin, Phnom Penh deputy governor, said that permission would be granted and the proper security provided.
The Vietnam Embassy’s press officer could not be reached for comment Monday. France officially ceded the territory known to Cambodians as Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam in 1949.