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)