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Kampuchea Krom demo set for capital

About 200 monks and supporters plan on gathering in Phnom Penh tomorrow, to demand the Vietnamese government release two ethnic Khmer monks arrested last week.

The arrest occurred in an area of southern Vietnam that was once part of the Khmer empire and is referred to by some as Kampuchea Krom.

Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng met with Kampuchea Krom community members on Friday and approved a demonstration at Freedom Park tomorrow, said Son Chumchuon, program manager for the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association.

“We were allowed to demonstrate, but were not allowed to march to the Vietnamese embassy to file our petition,” Chumchuon said.

The roughly 200 people expected at the demonstration will support monks Liv Ny and Thach Thoeun, both 30, Chumchuon said. The monks were arrested last month on charges of associating with members of pro-Khmer Krom organisations abroad.

Protesters are also calling for Vietnamese authorities to re-ordain monk Li Chenda, who was arrested on the same charges last month and defrocked, but released.

“We suggest that Vietnam officials must stop all threats and oppression . . . of Kampuchea Krom monks and people in Kampuchea Krom territory,” Chumchuon said.

On the day of the protest a Phnom Penh Municipal Hall employee will deliver the group’s petition to the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, according to a meeting note signed by Sreng and put on the Kampuchea Krom human rights association’s website.

Protestors are not allowed to march to the Vietnamese embassy because it could cause traffic problems, and the demonstration must end by 12pm.

“The demonstration will not be used to serve a political party, will not [be] influenced [by] the monarchy, neighbouring government and countries or any public figures,” the note read.Several calls from the Post to the Vietnamese Embassy went unanswered yesterday.

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