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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam faces apology demand

Vietnam faces apology demand

THE Democratic Front of Students and Intellectuals (DFKSI) is demanding that Vietnamese

President Tran Duc Luong use the occasion of his visit to Cambodia on November 27-28

to apologize for Vietnamese involvement in the Pol Pot regime and the infamous "K5"

defense perimeter constructed along the Thai border in the 1980s.

The DFKSI, which made headlines before the arrival on November 13 of Chinese President

Jiang Zemin by demanding an apology for Chinese support for the Khmer Rouge regime,

now links both China and Vietnam to crimes against humanity and war crimes in Cambodia

from 1975 till 1999.

DFKSI plans a protest demonstration to press their demands on November 27 in front

of the National Assembly, a follow-up to their Nov 21 attempt to present a petition

demanding an apology to the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

"We are demanding that the Vietnamese apologize, provide compensation, cease

political pressure on Cambodian leaders, respect [Cambodia's] territorial integrity

and sovereignty and repatriate all illegal Vietnamese immigrants living in Cambodia,"

said DFKSI spokesperson and Royal Phnom Penh University student Phob Boramey.

Boramey said the Vietnamese and Chinese should not hinder plans for an international

tribunal to try the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) Parliamentarian Cheam Chan Ny attributed Luong's visit to

growing Vietnamese uneasiness with Cambodia's closening ties with China.

"I think that Luong's visit could be in reaction to increasing Chinese influence,

therefore, the Vietnamese have to come and might be aimed at reminding the Phnom

Penh Government just who are its long time friends in the region and that Hun Sen

owes Vietnam for toppling the Khmer Rouge regime in 1997," Chan Ny said.

Chan Ny said both China and Vietnam were competing for political dominance over Cambodia.

"I think that China and Vietnam's ideological ambitions are being played out

in Cambodia," he said. "I have learned that the visit by Chinese and Vietnamese

leaders aims to rebuilt ideological and traditional ties rather than economic ones.

The notion of continuous revolution continues and they don't want to see Cambodia

divert to democracy."

Ny points to alleged opposition from both China and Vietnam to a UN-sponsored tribunal

of former Khmer Rouge leaders as proof of their complicity with the 1975-1979 Pol

Pot regime of Democratic Kampuchea.

"I think that if Vietnamese and Chinese were not complicit in crimes against

humanity in Cambodia, they would encourage the international tribunal, like the United

States," he said. "The leaders of Cambodia must think of the young generation's

future and bring justice to society."

Although National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh assured reporters on

November 15 that Cambodian people had the right to express their opinions guaranteed

by the Constitution of Cambodia, DFKSI are uneasy about the possible official backlash

to their protests during Luong's visit.

Sokunmealea said: "Any time we hold a demonstration, pro-CPP counter-protesters

always come against us and try to incite violence. When we react against them, the

police take that as a chance to disperse us."

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