I would like to express my appreciation to CPP lawmaker Suos Yara for bringing up an interesting issue about the Cham community in his letter “Cham Voters Must Consider CNRP’s Racism” (March 24).
I totally agree with him on the point that the Khmer Rouge betrayed the Cham people.
According to my research experience at the Documentation Center of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Chams were some of the most brutally abused victims of Pol Pot’s regime. There is no existing piece of evidence showing that current CNRP leaders were involved in this regime of bloodshed.
In contrast, evidence shows that some senior CPP leaders had connections with the regime, and possibly the deadly suppression in 1975 of Cham rebellions in Kroch Chhmar district.
The Cham and Khmer people have had a special relationship for hundreds of years. Today, they are still close as friends, classmates, colleagues and life partners. This peaceful coexistence that the two communities enjoy is from the heritage of their ancestors and not from the effort of the current government.
In his letter, Mr. Yara stressed that Cham voters must consider the CNRP’s racism. But I would like to refute his claim. Leaders of the CNRP are all pure Khmer. They will manage the country without having any foreign interference and on a human rights and democracy basis.
Thus, I don’t have any fear that they will mistreat the Cham people, as is happening in Vietnam and China. Having lived under the current government for a few decades, Chams will use their best judgement to choose the right leader.
Many Cham people in Cambodia, for example in Kratie province, have lost their plantations because of land grabbing. They lost their Cham Voice on the radio, and over time their religious leadership has come under the influence of the ruling party.
In the next election, everyone from the Cham community will decide wisely on whom they trust. I am sure they will not continue to support anyone who intends to grab land, as happened at their great mosque in Phnom Penh last year. They have been betrayed long enough.
Chairman of the Khmer Islam Movement of the CNRP