Khmer Kroms Ask Hun Sen to Discuss Grievances With VN Vietnam

A Khmer Krom organization sent senior Cambodian officials a letter yesterday urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss the plight of its people with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nong Duc Manh.

Sent on the eve of Mr Manh’s visit to Cambodia today, the letter listed examples of abuses and restrictions placed on Khmer Kroms, ethnic Khmers living in south­ern Vietnam, and appealed to the premier to bring up the controversial matter with the party secretary general.

“On behalf of the Khmer Kam­puchea Krom Community I would like Samdech Hun Sen to raise the issue on the suffering of the Khmer Kampuchea Kroms, who face seriously difficulties nowadays, to Nong Duc Manh in order to discuss and solve the problem,” read the letter signed by Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community.

Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and individuals are monitored and threatened by Vietnamese authorities, the letter continued, and are not allowed to contact one another or hold meetings about social or po­litical issues. Many are forced to adopt Vietnamese citizenship.

“They dissolve Khmer citizens in­to Vietnamese citizens,” the letter stated.

Invited by King Norodom Si­hamoni, Mr Manh is scheduled to arrive today for a three-day visit in Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province, according to Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong. He said Mr Manh would meet with the premier, Senate President Chea Sim, National Assembly President Heng Samrin, the King and others.

Mr Kuong said he did not know if the government would broach the Khmer Krom grievances, saying the decision was up to Mr Hun Sen. He added he was not aware of the organization’s letter.

Spokesman for the Vietnamese Em­bassy Trinh Ba Cam declined to provide details on the visit or what topics may be discussed during the party leader’s stay, referring all questions to the Cambodian Royal Palace.

Mr Setha said in an interview he doubted Mr Hun Sen would heed his request but was pleased to know the government was at least aware of the group’s complaints.


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