European Parliament Member and Transnational Radical Party President Marco Pannella met with Khmer Krom leaders in Phnom Penh on Sunday to discuss alleged human rights abuses against the ethnic Khmer community in Vietnam, officials said at a news conference.
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community President Thach Setha called on Pannella at the conference to help “find solutions” to save “the citizens of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom from the systematic elimination of their ethnic identity and obtain their human rights.”
Thach Setha listed numerous abuses and called for the release of five Khmer Buddhist monks from prison in Vietnam, and for the repatriation of Tim Sakhorn, the Khmer Krom monk who has been held under house arrest in Vietnam since his release from prison earlier this year. Tim Sakhorn was deported from Cambodia to Vietnam for allegedly undermining relations with Hanoi and was later jailed.
The European Parliament issued a resolution in October calling on Vietnam to put an end to the “current systematic violation of democracy and human rights” in that country, with particular attention to issues facing Vietnam’s ethnic Khmer community.
At Sunday’s news conference, Thach Setha praised Pannella and the European Union for its October resolution.
“There has never been an international organization that paid any attention to the sufferings of the people of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom,” he said.
Pannella, who spoke in French at the conference, said he supported the Khmer Krom in their effort to resolve their conflict with the Vietnamese government without violence.
Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trinh Ba Cam reiterated that there are no human rights abuses in his country and called the accusations by the Khmer Krom “political.”
“I’ve told you what they have done is just for their own political issue,” he said by telephone Sunday.