Local Group Seeks to Protect Kampuchea Krom

A Cambodian human rights group has asked Hanoi for permission to open a branch in southern Vietnam to safeguard the human rights of Khmer Kampuchea Krom minorities living there.

Last week, the Khmer Kampu­chea Krom Human Rights As­so­ciation sent a statement to the Viet­namese government requesting permission to establish the office.

The letter was prompted by a “fresh round of arrest, violence and intimidation against the Montagnards,” according to the letter signed by Mom Sarin, president of the rights group.

The statement from Mom Sarin association, drew comparisons between the current plight of the Montagnards, the ethnic minorities living in Vietnam, and the situation facing the Khmer Krom.

He charged the Vietnamese government with arresting and torturing its Buddhist leaders and said Hanoi is carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing.

The letter comes after a report from Human Rights Watch that condemned both Cam­bodia and Vietnam for continued repression and mistreatment of the Mont­agnards, who live in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region.

“I would like the Vietnamese government to respect human rights of the Montagnards,” said Mom Sarin in an interview about his request. Even if the letter does not result in the opening of an off­ice in Vietnam, he said he hoped that the statement will “help reduce punishment of the hill tribes. My statement is for promoting hu­man rights…and condemning the Vietnamese government.”

The letter was also sent to the Vietna­mese ambassador to Cam­bodia, who could not be reached for com­ment.

Although Mom Sarin’s statement condemns Vietnam, it does not mention alleged mistreatment of the Montagnards at the hands of the Cambodian government.

, which was lambasted by HRW for its failure to resettle the Montagnards.

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