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Vietnam to face UN rights council

THE Vietnamese government will appear before the UN's Council of Human Rights in Geneva for its five-yearly rights review Friday, with local rights activists and politicians hoping that Hanoi will be forced to account for its treatment of the country's ethnic Khmer population, the Khmer Krom.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yont Tharo - himself a member of the Khmer Krom community - claimed the Vietnamese government continues to abuse the human rights of ethnic Khmers in Vietnam, confiscating their land, interfering with religious ceremonies and preventing the use of Khmer language and customs.

"I would like the United Nations to check Vietnam's reports properly because Vietnam has always talked contrary to how it has acted," he said in the letter.  "The Vietnamese government must clarify these abuses."

Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Khmer Krom Human Rights Organisation, said the group had made a submission to the UN council in early April, detailing reported abuses against the Khmer Krom.

UN member states are obliged to appear before the UN Council of Human Rights every five years for a review of their human rights records. Cambodia will appear before the council for its own review in November.

Vietnamese embassy officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Cambodian officials, when asked if the government was concerned over reports of abuses against ethnic Khmers in Vietnam, would not comment on the issue.

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