A continuing loss of donor funding will eventually cause The Khmer Krom Human Rights Association to end its operations if the trend is not reversed, KKHRA President Ang Chanrith said Thursday.
The group’s budget has dwindled from $120,000 in 2005 to $60,000 in 2008 and to $50,000 in 2009, Ang Chanrith said.
Budget shortfalls in 2006 forced the group to close seven provincial offices, he added.
“I am so sad and I am having a hard time finding other donors. My organization might close if it does not have more funds.” Over the past few years donor countries have tended to fund larger organizations instead of a smattering of smaller ones such as KKHRA, he said, adding that the organization still has four offices: in Phnom Penh, and in Kandal, Takeo and Sihanoukville provinces.
The organization was opened in 1996 to champion the cause of the Khmer Krom minority, which are ethnic Khmers born in what is today southern Vietnam. The Khmer Krom community has long claimed rights abuses at the hand of the majority Vietnamese in Vietnam, and discrimination in Cambodia by fellow Khmers who do not consider the Khmer Krom truly Khmer.
“If we do not have funds we cannot support projects involving Khmer Krom,” Ang Chanrith said.
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community President Thach Setha said the restriction of KKHRA’s reach has decreased the amount of human rights protection for the Khmer Krom.
“I am concerned that Khmer Krom human rights might be lost if the KKHRA closes,” he said.
“I do not want the KKHRA to close, but how could I help?”
Khmer Krom Monks Association President Yeoung Sin described the potential closure as a huge loss to his people.
“This is a big organization in our community,” he said.
Yont Tharo, an SRP lawmaker and a Khmer Krom, said Thursday that he would ask all donors to continue supporting the respected organization.
“I do not want the KKHRA’s leaders to be hopeless,” he said.