Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Krom migrants appeal to UN envoy as conditions deteriorate

Khmer Krom migrants appeal to UN envoy as conditions deteriorate

Khmer Krom migrants appeal to UN envoy as conditions deteriorate

A GROUP of ethnic Khmer Krom who say they are fleeing persecution in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region are making a public appeal to a UN-appointed rights watchdog, claiming Cambodian officials have not been receptive to their pleas for citizenship.

Thach Soong, a representative of 19 Khmer Krom still seeking asylum after fleeing to Phnom Penh following their deportation from Thailand on December 5, said the government has ignored their repeated requests to formally recognise them as Cambodian citizens.

The group now hopes the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi, who began his second official visit to the Kingdom on Monday, can step in.

“We know he is visiting Cambodia, so we want to ask him for help,” Thach Soong said.

“If he doesn’t help us, then we will die.”

The group has remained in limbo since arriving in December. They have asked for formal identity cards, food, housing and official recognition as Cambodian citizens.

They had no confidence in the government’s ability to help them.

Officials have so far brushed aside requests for identity cards and housing, causing alarm among the asylum seekers.
Already, five among the group – a woman, two men and two girls – have returned to Thailand in another attempt to seek asylum there, Thach Soong said.

“They had no confidence in the government’s ability to help them,” he added.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, could not be reached for comment Monday. But he has previously said that any Khmer Krom is entitled under the constitution to live in Cambodia.

Accused monks hiding
Also, five Khmer Krom monks who claim police are accusing them of distributing anti-Vietnamese leaflets that have outraged senior government officials remain in hiding.

“We dare not show our faces, because we fear arrest,” said Liv Phally, one of the five, who believe authorities have targeted them.

Interior Ministry officials, however, have stated that they have never threatened to arrest the monks.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY THARUM BUN

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,