The SRP has issued a statement condemning the alleged defrocking last week of three Khmer Krom monks in Vietnam’s Soc Trang province as a breach of their basic human rights.
Several Khmer Krom associations have claimed that the monks were defrocked by Vietnamese authorities on Feb 22 after participating in alleged anti-Hanoi demonstrations in southern Vietnam.
“SRP considers the acts of the Vietnamese authorities in strong violation of the religious rights of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom,” the SRP said in a statement Feb 23.
SRP Secretary-General Mu Sochua said Sunday that her party will “be part of any action or movement to protect the religious rights of Khmer Kampuchea Krom,” adding, “this is a very strong movement.”
Mu Sochua said she had no concern that the SRP’s position would provoke strong sentiments against ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia. “We’re talking about religious rights,” she said.
Nguyen Son Thuy, counselor at the Vietnamese Embassy, said Hanoi has issued no order to defrock the monks, adding that any tension in Soc Trang has been caused by a misunderstanding between the monks and local authorities.
He added that the Vietnamese government is not abusing the rights of Khmer Krom living in Vietnam.
Ang Chanrith, executive director of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization, alleged that border police in Takeo province have been told to tighten restrictions on admitting Khmer Krom. “[Police] are stricter than before,” he said.
Dozens of Khmer Krom have entered Takeo in recent days claiming to be fleeing Vietnam and, according to Ang Chanrith, four Khmer Krom monks arrived in Cambodia on Saturday and Sunday after fleeing Vietnam.
Ang Chanrith claims that the order to tighten restrictions at the border is likely a response to plans for a pro-Khmer Krom demonstration in Phnom Penh for which he plans to seek permission from the Interior Ministry today.
Meas Sophoan, police chief of Takeo’s Kiri Vong district, said there has been no order for his officers to stop Khmer Krom from entering Cambodia.
“The border is closed for non-document passengers,” which is in accordance with the law, he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Khmer Krom are welcome in Cambodia if they have proper documentation and intend to live peacefully.