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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Krom want apology

Khmer Krom monks and supporters protest against the Vietnamese government
Khmer Krom monks and supporters protest against the Vietnamese government and appeal to the international community during a demonstration at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh last year. Pha Lina

Khmer Krom want apology

A Khmer Krom association threatened this week to protest against the Vietnamese government after an official said that the former Kampuchea Krom provinces belonged to Vietnam long before France’s official transfer of the land in 1949.

The threats from the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association for Human Rights and Development (KKKAHRD) followed remarks by Trung Van Thong, a spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, during an interview with Radio Free Asia earlier this week.

“France did not cut a territory of Khmer Kampuchea Krom and give it to Vietnam, but Kampuchea Krom had been a Vietnamese territory for a very long time, and the news of [Cambodia] losing the territory has no basis [or] evidence,” he said.

Following the interview, the KKKAHRD released a statement on Wednesday calling for Van Thong or the Vietnamese government to apologise or face demonstrations.

“If there is no basic document or … evidence to confirm [his claims], Trung Van Thong or the Vietnamese government has to apologise to Cambodians publicly, or else the Kampuchea Krom Association will lead a huge, non-violent demonstration against [the Vietnamese government] until [it] acquiesces to recognize the real history of the Kampuchea Krom territory,” the statement says.

Speaking to the Post yesterday, Van Thong said he has no plans to back down.

“[The complaints] raised by the organisation were malign. [The KKKAHRD] has no evidence to confirm that France cut the territory … to give it to Vietnam,” he said.

Van Thong added that he had nothing to apologise for and would take “no notice” of the organisation’s threats.

Last week, ongoing tensions over the land were highlighted at a ceremony to mark 65 years since the official transfer.

At the event, deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha said that Vietnam might have orchestrated the Koh Pich bridge stampede that killed more than 350 people in 2010 as part of a plot to “eliminate the Khmer race, tradition and culture”.

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