Plan To Protest Visiting VN Premier Is Blocked

The Phnom Penh Municipality has denied permission to the Kam­pu­chea Krom Community to dem­onstrate against this morning’s scheduled arrival of Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, an official with the organization said.

Up to one thousand people had been hoping to protest against the three-day visit, but the demonstration will now have to be held in the organization’s Russei Keo district of­fice rather than on the streets of the capital, Thach Setha, an opposition senator and the community’s exe­cutive director, said Friday.

“Authorities do not allow us, saying they are concerned about public order, security and national dignity,” he said, adding that municipal officials proposed on Friday at a City Hall meeting that the organization protest at their office instead.

“We had better accept this re­quest instead of doing nothing,” Thach Setha said.

The territory known as Kampu­chea Krom, once part of Cambodia, was officially ceded to Vietnam in 1949. Khmer Krom organizations have long accused Vietnam of mistreating ethnic Khmers in the re­gion. The community had originally hoped to demonstrate along Rus­sian Boulevard as Phan Van Khai was driven from Phnom Penh In­ter­­national Airport, and then to de­liver a petition to the Vietnamese Em­­bassy, calling for better human rights and freedom for ethnic Khmers in southern Vietnam.

Thach Setha said the organization still has permission to deliver the petition.

Vietnamese Embassy officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday, but Phnom Penh Gov­ernor Kep Chuktema said he gave the organization permission to pro­test inside their office.

“The cooperation between Cam­bo­­dia and Vietnam is very good. We should not allow them to do anything” that would affect relations between the two countries, he said.

            (Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)


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