Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rights groups ask VN to free Khmer Krom

Rights groups ask VN to free Khmer Krom

Rights groups ask VN to free Khmer Krom

KHMER Krom advocacy groups have called on authorities in Vietnam to release ethnic Khmers being held in Vietnamese jails and to relax cultural and religious restrictions ahead of next week’s Khmer New Year holiday.

Thach Setha, president of the Khmer Krom Association, said that on the occasion of the annual holiday, which begins April 14, Vietnam should loosen government controls and respect the rights of the country’s ethnic Khmer minority.

“I asked for the Vietnamese government to provide freedom and release Khmer Kampuchea Krom who have been arrested and jailed due to land disputes and attempts to preserve their religion and culture,” he said.

Thach Setha said that “hundreds” of Khmer Krom are languishing in prison on political charges after advocating for the use of the Khmer language and the right to practise Theravada Buddhism, which differs from the Mahayana Buddhism practised by the ethnic Vietnamese majority.

A Human Rights Watch report released in January 2009 documented the “severe and often shrouded methods used by the Vietnamese authorities to stifle dissent” among the country’s ethnic Khmer minority, particularly “ethnic-based grievances” and demands for religious freedom.

“Wary about the possible nationalist aspirations of the Khmer Krom, the Vietnamese government is quick to suppress peaceful expressions of dissent,” the report stated, noting that the government prohibits most peaceful protests and bans the formation of independent human rights groups.

In a meeting in the Mekong Delta on Tuesday, President Nguyen Minh Triet said the Khmer minority was an inseparable part of the Vietnamese nation, and had contributed to Vietnam’s economic development despite the great difficulties stemming from previous wars, according to a state-run media report.

The report also quoted the president as saying that the Communist Party of Vietnam always “made efforts to stabilise the economy and consolidate national solidarity in order to support and improve the lives of ethnic groups including theKhmer ethnic minority”.

However, Thach Sung, a representative of a group 22 Khmer Krom asylum seekers deported from Thailand in December, said that he did not believe that the Vietnamese authorities had done anything to improve the lives of ethnic minorities in the country, especially the Khmer.

“The Vietnamese government always tells the international community that they always pay attention to improving the lives of ethnic groups in their country, but it is not true,” he said.

“They consider Khmer Krom as animals and then tortured us when we demand freedom.”

Ny Chakrya, a senior investigator for local rights group Adhoc, said that the Khmer Krom should be able to live “with the same peace and freedom” as ethnic Vietnamese living inside Cambodia.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all