Khmer Krom Groups Threaten to Hold Protest

Khmer Krom advocacy groups threatened Thursday to take to the streets to protest the Viet­namese Embassy, which has declined to meet with them to discuss a plan to carry Khmer-language Buddhist religious materials into southern Vietnam.

The protests would be a last resort if the embassy continues to ignore requests for a meeting, said Kim Vanchheng, executive director of the Khmer Kam­puchea Krom Coordination Com­mittee.

Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Duy Hung has said he has spoken to the group, and does not have time to give special attention to its concerns.

Representatives of the groups say they plan first to hold a news conference to present their complaint to the media and other embassies; then, if no compromise is forthcoming, they say they will protest. The plan was outlined Thursday in a news release.

Kim Vanchheng said he has not asked authorities about permits for a demonstration. Munici­pal officials said Thursday they have not heard of the proposed march and declined comment.

“I’m concerned about the violence that could happen any time” that police try to prevent demonstrators from exercising their rights, said Thun Saray, director of the human rights group Adhoc.

Some of the Khmer Krom groups involved have been vocal in their opposition to Prime Min­ister Hun Sen’s CPP government and their support for opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

“It’s hard to say,” said Thun Saray. The government may try to crack down severely, “and that is when violence happens.”

“We always think about that,” said San Sann, director of one Khmer Krom group. “But…we need to do…. I always think that the government in Phnom Penh, they understand…what we are do­ing here, that is not to make a problem for the government.”

 

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