Khmer Krom Ask French for Mekong Delta Documents

Officials from nine organizations representing the ethnic Khmer population in Vietnam, which is known as the Khmer Krom, wrote an open letter to French Am­ bassador Jean-Francois Des­maz­ie­res on Mon­day, prodding him to pass on a request to French leaders to release the original document authorizing the 1949 official transfer to Vietnam of the Mekong delta region that once belonged to Cambodia.

According to SRP lawmaker Yont Tharo, a group of 16 opposition lawmakers originally wrote to the ambassador on June 25 asking him to formally request that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the president of the French National Assembly release the transfer agreement, which is housed in the National Assembly library in France.

When that letter went unanswered, Khmer Krom representatives sent Mr Desmazieres another, more urgent letter this week.

“The civil society of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom, including monks and Khmer Krom people living in Kampuchea Krom as well as those living abroad, were so proud when they knew a letter was sent to the ambassador,” the groups wrote in their second letter this week. “But the wait for a response…has been so slow-the letter was sent nearly three months ago, and we want a response soon.”

Kem Bunkeo, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Friendship Association, said it was crucial for Khmer Krom organizations to obtain the original transfer agreement.

“We think knowing about this agreement is very important for Khmer Kampuchea Krom to be able to complain to Vietnam,” he said.

Laurence Bernardi, a spokeswoman for the French embassy, wrote in an e-mail yesterday that the ambassador had received the June 25 letter and forwarded it to the French government.

“The first letter which was sent to the ambassador in June has been forwarded in early July,” she wrote. “It hasn’t received any answer yet, as it has required a specific query to our archives department. So it might take rather some time to have an answer,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Julia Wallace)





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