Officials began the process of revoking “irregular” documents from ethnic Vietnamese in Phnom Penh yesterday, as part of a campaign that some observers have labelled a massive human rights violation.
“They just started with two districts today,” Tuol Kork and Chroy Changvar, said Lou Rabor, deputy Phnom Penh police chief. “The other day they had a meeting about the implementation with the Phnom Penh governor and Immigration Department chief Sok Phal.”
The process first kicked off in Kampong Chhnang province, where officials identified over 10,000 individuals to be stripped of documents. Rabor said 21,500 were expected to be stripped of documentation in Phnom Penh. In total, 70,000 people will be affected, the majority of whom are ethnic Vietnamese.
Many of them have lived in Cambodia for generations, but fled briefly to escape mass killings at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, and have no other documentation. Human rights observers have warned that the current campaign will disenfranchise an already marginalised group, rendering them stateless.