Cambodian villagers could be cut out of their own country and sent to live in Vietnam – without ever leaving their homes, concerned civil society and opposition party spokespeople said yesterday.
Cambodian Watchdog Council representative Rong Chhun said the group feared a recent agreement to post demarcating markers along the Cambodian-Vietnam border, because entire villages would be reclassified as being in Vietnamese territory.
On behalf of the CWC, Rong Chhun issued a letter to Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, and 122 other members of parliament yesterday asking them to clarify details about the border demarcation process, which could also result in Vietnamese villages becoming Cambodian, he said.
“The swapping of villages is a national issue and our history must have clarity,” the letter states.
“Please, Samdech [Heng Samrin] and all parliamentarians, invite the Cambodian Royal Government or the chairman of the Cambodian Border Committee [Var Kimhong] to clarify this case . . . to avoid Cambodia losing land because of improper border post planting.”
The letter does not state how many villages or provinces CWC thinks will be affected by the demarcation.
Rong Chhun told the Post the Cambodian Border Committee and the Vietnamese Border Committee had reached an agreement without allowing the issue to be debated in the National Assembly.
Son Chhay, an opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmarker, told the Post he had sent a similar letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday to answer questions about the issue.
“This information is national-level information that parliamentarians must know,” Son Chhay said.
Cambodia and Vietnam signed an agreement on March 14 for completion of the remaining 70 per cent of the 1,270-kilometre border by the end of the year, and agreed to split the cost of demarcation.
Var Kimhong could not be reached by the Post for comment yesterday.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan declined to comment about the border demarcation, but said the government would answer questions put to it by the parliament.