Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Clash at Vietnam Embassy

Clash at Vietnam Embassy

Buddhist monks and supporters face off against security personnel during a Khmer Krom protest in Phnom Penh
Buddhist monks and supporters face off against security personnel during a Khmer Krom protest in Phnom Penh yesterday. Vireak Mai

Clash at Vietnam Embassy

In a sharply worded statement, the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh condemned a protest that took place in front of its building yesterday morning, saying demonstrators interfered with Vietnam’s sovereignty and internal affairs.

Several demonstrators and at least one security guard were injured during clashes when about 200 members and supporters of several Khmer Krom organisations gathered outside the embassy.

Participants demanded a formal apology from embassy spokesman Trung Van Thong for commenting last month that the Kampuchea Krom territory belonged to Vietnam long before France officially granted it the land in 1949.

“Despite being restrained by relevant authorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia, the demonstration still took place and seriously impeded the operation of the Embassy,” the statement released yesterday afternoon reads.

“The Embassy considers this move an act of intervention into the sovereignty and internal affairs of Viet Nam.”

Protesters led by the Federation of Cambodian Intellectuals and Students (FCIS) arrived at the embassy at about 7am and were greeted by about 200 security guards and military police. Authorities kept them from demonstrating in front of the building.

Security guards and military police forcefully used shields and batons to disperse the protesters, who were marching in two groups towards the embassy from opposite sides.

A second clash occurred at about 9am when protesters tried again to advance on the building. Banging their batons against their shields to warn demonstrators before they attacked, authorities again used force, but were met by volleys of rocks thrown by members of the crowd, injuring at least one embassy security guard.

The iron gates in front of the embassy were closed to keep the group outside. By noon, the demonstrators had dispersed.

Several participants decried the authorities’ violent response and their inability to hold their planned protest in response to Van Thong’s comments on Radio Free Asia last month that “France did not cut territory of Khmer Kampuchea Krom and give it to Vietnam, but Kampuchea Krom had been a Vietnamese territory for a very long time”.

Monks stand at a barricade yesterday in Phnom Penh during a demonstration demanding the Vietnamese Embassy apologise for a statement made by one of its official
Monks stand at a barricade yesterday in Phnom Penh during a demonstration demanding the Vietnamese Embassy apologise for a statement made by one of its officials. Vireak Mai

“We just gathered in the area outside the embassy; that is Khmer land,” FCIS director Mao Pises said. “But the authorities cracked down and beat us.”

Despite Pises’ reasoning that the group was not doing anything wrong as it was not encroaching on Vietnamese territory, Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the municipality had forbidden the demonstration during a meeting and in an official letter.

The Vietnamese Embassy’s statement complained that the demonstration was “contrary to the laws of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which stipulate ‘Cambodia does not allow any force or any individual to use its territory to counter any other country’.”

Neither Van Throng nor any other spokesperson for Vietnam’s embassy could be reached yesterday.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan refused to comment on the embassy’s statement, telling a Post reporter that he did not want to create any conflict.

“The government as well as the local authority . . . don’t want to see anything happening, anything provocative,” said Siphan, who emphasised close relations between Cambodia and Vietnam. “Everyone should respect the law.”

No arrests were made at the demonstration, and the Phnom Penh municipality has no intention of opening any investigation into the protest, Dimanche said.

“I don’t have anything to investigate about this matter,” he said. “[Placing security guards and military police at embassies] is what City Hall does in order to protect foreign embassies in Cambodia.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures