The Cambodian Kampuchea Krom community, monks and around 700 people on Monday marked the 69th anniversary of the loss of Lower Cambodia to Vietnam. They appealed to all Cambodians, especially the leaders of political parties, to jointly protect the nation’s territories.
The event was held at the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community office in the capital’s Sen Sok district with Princess Samdech Sisowath Pongneary Monipong, who was representing the King.
Former Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers, youths and others were also in attendance as they delivered offerings to monks in the area.
The executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, Thach Setha, said on June 4, 1949, France gave the land that made up Kampuchea Krom to neighbouring Vietnam.
France did not consider the will of the King or the people who would come under Vietnamese control, Setha said, calling on politicians to ensure that this painful event is never repeated.
“I ask all political parties to always consider the interests of all Cambodians. If we unite, the yuon cannot take our land anymore,” he said, using a derogatory term aimed at the Vietnamese.
Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community for Human Rights and Development Program Director Son Chumchuon claimed that since Lower Cambodia fell under Vietnamese control, the authorities there used all means to eliminate Cambodians and Buddhism completely.
“We continue to demand that the Vietnamese government respect our human rights and offer freedom and the right to life. We will not give up now, we will continue to make these demands and celebrate this event annually,” he said.
Setha said the French government permitted him to research documents related to the loss of Lower Cambodia that are in the National Archives of France. However, he must pay €16,000 for access.
Sisowat Thomiko, the former assistant to the late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk, said the loss of Lower Cambodia is a bitter experience which the Kingdom must always remember and use as motivation to protect the country’s territorial integrity.
However, he said it appeared as though lessons had not been learned, as the Kingdom is now going through a period of human rights violations and societal degradation.
“Can you see how our society is? The education system destroys knowledge, the legal system violates the law, and the government violates the people’s rights. We need to understand that this is the strategy of foreigners who want our territory,” he stressed.
Chhem Thy, 25, a university student in Phnom Penh who joined the event on Monday, said he thought the government should regard June 4 as a national holiday for all Cambodians, especially youths, who should study history.