A Vietnamese government official has promised to try to get the prison sentences of Khmer Krom monk Tim Sakhorn and five other ethnic Krom monks in Vietnam reduced, SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said.
Son Chhay said that he received the commitment from Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee member and Standing Deputy Head of the Committee for Ethnic Affairs Son Song Son during a trip to Vietnam last month. Son Chhay added that he had written to Son Song Son this week to see what progress had been made.
“His Excellency promised he would look into reducing the prison time for [Tim Sakhorn] and the five other monks in jail,” Son Chhay said in a statement Wednesday.
Tim Sakhorn was sentenced to one year in Vietnam’s An Giang provincial prison in November for undermining the “solidarity” between Vietnam and Cambodia after having being deported, some say forcibly, to Vietnam in June.
The other five were sentenced to between two and five years in prison in May for their alleged involvement in a protest in Soc Trang province.
Son Chhay said an early release for Tim Sakhorn and the other monks would defuse tensions between Vietnam and the Khmer Krom communities.
Khmer Krom Human Rights Association Executive Director Ang Chanrith said he was “not optimistic.”
“There is no real commitment on the Vietnamese or Cambodian side to resolve this issue,” he said.
Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trinh Ba Cam declined to comment on any action Son Song Son was likely to take, but said that in some cases prisoners in Vietnam are released early for good behavior.
“The court convicted [Tim Sakhorn] to one year, so it has already forgiven him a lot,” he said.