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."