Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng on Monday warned Kampuchea Krom advocates away from any sort of armed struggle to free parts of the Mekong River delta from Vietnam following last month’s calls to arms by the Kampuchea Krom Liberation Front, a Cambodia organization located in the US.
“This is absolutely not acceptable,” Sar Kheng said, adding that part of the KKLF’s platform was the creation of military bases.
Kampuchea Krom, a territory the engulfs large portions of the Mekong River delta, has become the focus of several sharp exchanges between Hanoi and advocates who claim Vietnamese authorities are abusing ethnic Khmers living in the area.
Khmer Krom in Cambodia claim the area was lost to them after the French handed it over to Vietnam. But until a massive gathering of Khmer Krom in June, the issue had remained largely in the background.
Since then Hanoi has demanded the Cambodian government deal with what it characterized as extreme elements intent on making trouble for the Vietnamese. Last month the KKLF stated it would overthrow the Vietnamese government.
Khmer Krom advocates here, though, have denied any connection to the US-based group, saying they would never use force to solve the Kampuchea Krom issue, according to opposition Senator Thach Setha, who is also president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordinating Committee.
Some advocates say they are alarmed by Sar Kheng’s warning, claiming it can be used by the government as an excuse to crackdown on its political opponents.
Similar complaints were made during the arrests of dozens of suspected members of another US-based anti-government group, the Cambodian Freedom Fighters.
Some of those arrested were Funcinpec members and opposition party members said the CFF manhunts were disrupting preparations for the commune council elections.