Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Krom look to France

Khmer Krom look to France

Children take part in a protest at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison
Children take part in a protest at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison yesterday that saw hundreds of people gather to demand the release of 17 imprisoned activists, monks and opposition members. Vireak Mai

Khmer Krom look to France

Thach Setha, the president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, says he is planning to lead a group to an unlikely destination: France, the country he accuses of illegally handing over Kampuchea Krom to the Vietnamese in 1949.

But Setha isn’t interested in touring the Riviera or exploring medieval cathedrals.

Rather, he plans to visit French archives in the hope of obtaining colonial-era documents that would be used to force Vietnam to apologise for a spokesman’s remark that southern Vietnam had been Vietnamese – and not Cambodian – land for many centuries.

At a meeting yesterday, Setha told his supporters that he is acting on a reply from the French Embassy to a petition the group filed during demonstrations on October 6.

“The response, dated October 13, told us to select representatives to go to France to pick up coded documents in the archives. Since we do not have money, we postponed this,” Setha said.

But now, the time has come for the trip to become a reality, said Setha, explaining that more than 10 representatives will be selected to go.

Buddhist monks and supporters block a road in front of the Vietnamese Embassy
Buddhist monks and supporters block a road in front of the Vietnamese Embassy last month during a Khmer Krom protest. Vireak Mai

But French Embassy spokesman Nicolas Baudouin said yesterday that the embassy never indicated that Cambodian representatives should to be sent to France to investigate the issue.

“We accepted the petition and responded by saying that regarding this matter, he can very well consult the national overseas archives [in Aix-en-Provence],” said Baudouin.

“Let me be clear: These archives are open to the public, anyone can use them. This is not a favour granted to the president of the association.”

In June, Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trung Van Thong said in a radio interview that Vietnam had ruled Kampuchea Krom for a “very long time”.

The comments sparked protests in Phnom Penh led by Setha, which have continued periodically since.

Van Thong was quietly removed from his post in Cambodia in September, but the nation itself has not apologised.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the