The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee is recruiting Khmer Krom people living in Cambodia to hold a demonstration next month at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, a committee official said.
Kim Vanchheng, committee executive director, said the demonstration, scheduled for around Dec 10, is to protest the embassy’s refusal to allow supporters to take 10,000 Khmer-language Buddhist books to Khmer Krom pagodas in southern Vietnam without using passports.
“We don’t want to hold passports when we go to Kampuchea Krom because this is our land,” he said. “First we will demand not to use passports, then we will demand our land back.”
There will be 1,949 demonstrators to represent the year that France handed the territory known as Kampuchea Krom, or lower Cambodia, over to Vietnam, Kim Vanchheng said.
He said his group would take responsibility if the demonstration turned violent. The loss of Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam is an emotional issue for many Cambodians.
One Khmer Krom who refused to be named said Wednesday that he recently received approval to take 110 Buddhist books to Kampuchea Krom after he filled out documents from Vietnam’s provincial Department of Cults and Religion.
He accused the Khmer Krom group of stirring up trouble by trying to enter Vietnam without passports.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the organizers of the planned demonstration should ask permission from municipal authorities 72 hours in advance.