A LEADING Khmer Krom advocacy group has appealed to King Norodom Sihamoni to raise issues related to the treatment of Vietnam’s ethnic Khmer community when the Vietnamese president visits Cambodia later this week.
In a statement yesterday, Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, said that Khmer Krom have repeatedly been arrested because Vietnamese authorities did not allow freedom of expression and religion for the Khmer minority, which resides in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region.
The statement requests that King Sihamoni discuss the “violation of human rights” when he meets with Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet, who is scheduled to arrive in Phnom Penh tomorrow.
“Please, government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, release all Khmer people arrested because of land protests and expression,” the statement says. “Please allow Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom to study Khmer literature, respect its customs freely and avoid threats.”
In a separate statement released Monday, Thach Setha slammed Vietnamese authorities for arresting former monk chief Tach Sophoan, who is accused of “serving the actions of the Khmer Krom” in opposition to the Vietnamese government.
The statement says authorities have barred the monk’s family from visitingy since his arrest, and that no one knows where he is being held.
“The KKKC would like to call for Vietnamese authorities to free Tach Sophoan,” the statement says. “We would like to appeal to the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and both national and international organisations to legally intervene.”
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said people living abroad must respect the laws of the country they reside in.
“This means that people who live in Vietnam must respect Vietnamese law,” he said.
He did not comment on either statement, saying Cambodia “would not interfere” in Vietnam’s internal affairs.