Khmer Krom Texts Barred

Groups advocating for the rights of the Khmer Krom, the pop­ulation of ethnic Cambodians liv­ing in present-day southern Viet­nam, have expressed anger at the Vietnamese Embassy for what they are calling discrimination.

Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Duy Hung has refused to meet with representatives of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coor­di­nation Committee to discuss their plans to take Khmer-language “Buddhist Bibles” into Vietnam. The ambassador said he had no objection to the plan but that the group should go through proper channels. “If they want to come to Viet­nam, they have to apply for a visa,” he said.

Mom Sarin, a spokesman for the committee, said the rebuff puts him in a bind. “We will have no problems entering Kampu­chea Krom personally by using our passports and visas to visit relatives,” he said. But, he said, if they try to hand out the Buddhist texts without special permission, “we will be given many problems, or we will be ar­rested by Viet­namese authorities.”

“We have sent three letters to the Vietnamese ambassador in Cam­bodia to set up a meeting aimed at asking his opinion on carrying Buddhist Bibles to Kam­puchea Krom,” Mom Sarin said. “We have, unfortunately, so far not received any official written reply.”

Nguyen Duy Hung said he had answered the group.

“I have spoken to them already, and told them I am very busy right now,” he said. “I do not have time to deal with this group.”

Mom Sarin is also president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Hu­­m­an Rights Association, which claims that Khmer Krom in Viet­nam are being subjected to severe ethnic and religious persecution.

The Vietnamese Embassy de­nies these allegations. The Khmer Krom have “complete freedom of worship,” the ambassador said.

The area around the Mekong Delta was ceded to Vietnam by the French when they abandoned their colonial interests. Khmer Krom advocacy groups have long been trying to get France to re­nege on the gift, and Kam­­puchea Krom separatism has been a sensitive issue in Cambo­dian-Viet­namese relations for years.

Khmer Krom advocacy groups have long been trying to get France to re­nege on the gift, and

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