Students Call for French Intervention in Border Disputes

Several dozen students staged a four-hour rally at the French Embassy on Saturday, calling on the French government to help resolve border disputes between Cambodia and Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

The students, who are members of the Democratic Front of Khmer Students and Intel­lectuals, say current disputes would not be occurring if France had drawn Cambodia’s borders properly during its century of colonial rule.

Sociology student Chhlam Seng Hour, 21, who led the march, said the demonstrators asked for a meeting with diplomatic personnel.

While embassy personnel did not allow demonstrators to enter the embassy Sunday, Chhlam Seng Hour said they did accept copies of the students’ petition and a formal meeting is possible today.

Embassy officials could not be reached Sunday for comment.

The students’ petition accuses France of a variety of wrongdoing, including imposing the Roman alphabet on the Khmer people and ceding Kampuchea Krom, a large area in the southeast, to Vietnam in 1949.

The students are demanding that France help redraw the boundaries under dispute “in order to solve the present boundary issues, both land and sea.”

They also want France “to confess its mistakes and make a public apology, and [to] resolve Khmer Krom,” so that the people living in that area will not face political persecution.

They also called on France to return any historically or culturally significant objects removed from Cambodia over the years. The students are also forwarding copies of their petition to all 18 countries who signed the Paris Peace Agree­ment of Oct 23, 1991.



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