Khmer Krom Committee Appeals to Bush

The US-based Khmer Kampu­chea Krom Federation has ap­pealed to US President George W Bush in a letter, urging the US government to investigate the alleged killings of numerous Khmer Krom people at the hands of the Vietnamese government.

In the letter, dated Dec 13, federation President Son Tuon congratulated the US government for its arrest of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, and asked for US support for his group’s cause.

“While investigating Saddam’s genocide…we would like to suggest Mr President to please support in conducting an investigation on the international genocide, which was committed by the Vietnamese communist government over the Khmer Kampu­chea Krom,” Son Tuon wrote.

He added: “Please, Mr Presi­dent order the US Justice and Foreign Ministries to support the Khmer Krom Fed­eration.”

Son Tuon alleged that between 1976 and 1979 the Vietnamese government had forced Khmer Krom people to leave their homes and confiscated their property. He also ac­cused Viet­nam of killing thousands of Khmer Krom people, including monks, between 1984 and 1990.

The territory known to Cambo­dians as Kampuchea Krom, which is now southern Vietnam, was handed over to Vietnam during the French protectorate in 1949.

In an interview last week, Tang Sarah, the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation’s representative in Cambodia, alleged that the Vietnam­ese government continued to discriminate against the Khmer Krom. He said Khmer Krom are regularly interrogated in their hometowns by Vietnamese officials, and are often asked about their political affiliations.

Tang Sarah said the federation is also urging the UN to take control of the Khmer Krom territory and to offer its people the right to control their own land.

Vietnamese Embassy spokes­man Nguyen Thanh Duc denied the allegations made in the federation’s letter. “We have to deny this irresponsible statement. The Viet­namese government would never do that,” he said late last week.

US Embassy spokesman Heide Bronke said she had not seen the letter and could not comment.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a separate organization, the Khmer Kam­puchea Krom Coordination Committee, announced it would meet on Friday to set a date for a dem­onstration against the Viet­namese government.

Committee director Kim Vanch­heng said the rally will be held in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh to pro­test the government’s refusal to allow the committee to bring Buddhist books to monks in southern Vietnam without passports. He said nearly 2,000 protesters are ex­pected to participate. (Addi­tional reporting by Wency Leung)

, adding that the committee will inform the Ministry of Interior and the Phnom Penh Municipality of its plans. (Additional reporting by Wency Leung)


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