Khmer Krom Group Denied Use of Pagoda

Phnom Penh Municipality has rejected a second request from the SRP-affiliated Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community to use a public place to mark the 59th anniversary of the official ceding of Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam, officials said.

The KKKC request was initially rejected May 20 in a letter from Municipal Governor Kep Chuk­tema. In the letter, Kep Chuktema told Thach Setha, executive director of the KKKC, that their annual ceremony could not be held at the park in front of Wat Botum. Instead, the ceremony could be held at the organization’s Russei Keo district office, the governor wrote.

A subsequent request to hold the ceremony in a pagoda was also denied, Thach Setha said Tuesday.

“We will have to comply with the law even though it is very unjust,” he said, noting that the celebration will be held inside his office today at 7 am.

“The government should understand that what we are doing is for the sake of our ancestors’ sacrifice,” he added.

Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment.

The rival CPP-affiliated Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee has successfully petitioned the municipality to allow it to hold a celebration at 7 am today inside the Angtaming Pagoda in Dangkao district.

The KKKCC originally wanted to have its group gather at Wat Botum, and then at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall.

“We have decided [to hold the ceremony at Angtaming Pagoda] according to the city’s advice, which we cannot oppose,” KKKCC Executive Director Kim Van Chheng said.

“Chaktomuk theater is for a national conference, not the Buddhist ceremony, and it is small,” he added.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization Executive Director Ang Chanrith said he would participate in the KKKC ceremony and called City Hall’s handling of the competing ceremony requests “discrimination.”


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