Students demanding that Vietnam apologize for the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge were stopped by police Tuesday as they tried to deliver a petition to the Vietnamese Embassy.
The students are also planning a protest march to coincide with Monday’s arrival of Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong for a two-day visit to Cambodia.
“We could not pass our petitions to the embassy” because police barred the way, said Pho Boromey, leader of the Democratic Front of Khmer Students and Intellectuals.
Kong Saran, chief of the municipal intervention police, said 10 officers dispersed about 30 students and told them the embassy had said “it has no right to receive their petitions.”
The students were told to submit their petitions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he said. The students, writing as “victims and survivors of the Cambodian genocide,” said the country “still struggles to recover from the nightmare inspired by Vietnamese interference.”
It was the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnamese troops in 1979 that finally drove the Khmer Rouge regime from power.
For the next decade, the Vietnamese military occupied Cambodia, pushing the Khmer Rouge back towards the western border until the collapse of the Soviet Union pulled the plug on the Vietnamese effort.
The students, however, said they hold Vietnam “directly responsible” for the suffering that began in 1975 and demanded that it apologize; pay reparations; solve border issues; and accept the return of illegal Vietnamese immigrants to Cambodia.
The same student group organized a similar protest during the recent visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin to Cambodia last week.