Thirty-five ethnic minority representatives yesterday delivered a petition bearing 555 thumbprints to the Mondulkiri provincial governor, asking him to replace the director of the rural development department because he wasn’t serving the best interests of ethnic minorities.
Kreng Tola, 26, said the 35 representatives included people from several minority groups – such as the Krol and the Phnong, to which he belongs – and had submitted the petition because they are not “happy” with department head Yorn Sarom.
Tola said ethnic minorities had organised celebrations for World Indigenous Peoples’ Day six years running, and each time Sarom had allegedly tried to restrict their activities. For the most recent celebration, on August 9, they weren’t allowed to march on the streets or host a photo exhibition, but were only allowed to pray.
He added that Sarom had also threatened to file a complaint against them. “This year, he threatened to sue the representatives who were organising the event,” he said.
Sarom denied the allegations yesterday and said he had only encouraged organisers to have one provincial event as opposed to having several separate ones.
“I have not banned anything, but we just want them to celebrate as a province,” he said.
Provincial Governor Svay Samoeun said he hadn’t received the petition. “I will look at the issues,” he said. “But we cannot just remove [someone] as they wish. We need to look at the reasons behind.”