Khmer Krom Activists Seeking Diplomatic Help

Khmer Krom activists have sought the assistance of two em­bassies and the Inter-Religious Councils of Cambodia to fight al­leged persecution of Khmer Krom by the Vietnamese government.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Com­munity executive director Thach Setha said Aug 21 that he met with Canadian embassy officials Aug 16 and with a US embassy official the following day.

“We are trying our best to seek in­tervention from those ambassadors to help return [Tim Sak­horn] and to eliminate violations of religious rights,” he said, adding that the KKKC was trying to meet with other diplomats.

According to the Vietnamese Embassy, Tim Sakhorn, who was chief of Takeo province’s Phnom Den pagoda, is being detained in Vietnam and will face trial for political crimes related to alleged in­volve­ment with the US-based Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation.

A Canadian Embassy official confirmed that the embassy had met with Thach Setha but declined further comment. US Embassy spokes­man Jeff Daigle said that Charge d’Affaires Piper Campbell had met Thach Setha.

Vietnamese Embassy spokes­man Trinh Ba Cam dismissed the Khmer Krom activists’ allegations of persecution Aug 20.

“If they are going to do anything to affect the bilateral relationship between the two countries, we can ask the Cambodian government to take better action,” he added.

Khmer Krom activists also asked the Inter-Religious Councils of Cambodia to help stop allegedly wrongful defrocking of monks and revoke the ban on monks’ political rallying.

The council’s secretary-general Yi Thon said that his coalition of NGOs would not get involved with Tim Sakhorn’s case as it did not fall within the group’s mandate.

“The case of [Tim Sakhorn] is a personal matter. And it is dealing with political issues in which we cannot intervene,” he said.

Supreme Buddhist Patriarch Non Ngeth denied that any monk had been wrongfully defrocked and reiterated allegations that Tim Sakhorn had violated Buddhist principles. He added that monks should not be protesting in a peaceful country like Cambodia.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Aug 21 that the Ministry had never banned Khmer Krom from demonstrating so long as they had a legal permit to do so. (Additional reporting by James Welsh)


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