Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Little Sympathy for Vietnamese Victims

Little Sympathy for Vietnamese Victims

Little Sympathy for Vietnamese Victims

KAMPOT (AP) - After centuries of antagonism with neighboring Vietnam, Cambodians

expressed little sympathy for the recent massacre of two poor ethnic Vietnamese families

in Kampot province.

On the evening of July 21, a ragged band burst into Tuk Meas village in this seaside

province bordering Vietnam. According to officers of the U.N. Transitional Authority

in Cambodia (UNTAC), the men shouted, "Death to the Vietnamese enemy,"

then bashed the head of a seven-day-old baby, split open the head of a seven-year-old

girl, disemboweled a man, and executed five other people.

A military unit of the Hun Sen government stationed less than a kilometer away apparently

did nothing to stop the roughly hour long attack, U.N. officers said.

A U.N. official who demanded anonymity said it appeared the attackers were rogue

government soldiers, and not Khmer Rouge guerrillas, whom the villagers blame because

of their brutal record and strident anti-Vietnamese propaganda.

Cambodians interviewed in this provincial capital expressed little concern about

the killings. The more they spoke, the more their deep-seated feelings rose to the

surface. They admired the work of the ethnic Vietnamese construction laborers in

town, but still wanted them out.

"If I were the king, I would do everything possible to expel them," said

Mao Savann, 26, a medical student. "They work well but their thoughts are no

good. They steal everything, motorcycles, clothes. By day they work, by night they

steal."

Leng Thol, 25, a Cambodian construction worker, said "We are like ducks and

chickens. . .can't get along, speak different languages. That makes me angry."

Nguyen Ngoc Ha, 32, a Vietnamese construction worker, complained about the lack of

security and said that, "One day, they're going to kill me too."

A U.N. official who requested anonymity said the attack was clearly racially motivated.

The assailants, wielding assault rifles and grenades, knew exactly which houses to

zero in on at Tuk Meas. After the massacre they fled to the nearby hills with stolen

food, rice and a bicycle.

A three-year-old who narrowly survived, Do Van Thuan, was shot in each leg and wounded

in the cheek. During a visit to Kampot Hospital Saturday, the child was seen laying

listless, his toes, fingers and neck still stained with caked blood.

Witnesses said his 12-year-old sister was holding him when the firing started. When

she was shot and fell to the ground, the boy hid in a drainage ditch.

The parents, who work in Kampot town, returned to Tuk Meas to bury their four children.

"There is a lot of blood in the house," said a brother who was taking care

of Do Van Thuan in the hospital. "I don't know if my father can stay there."

Vietnam first invaded Cambodia in the 16th century, although historians disagree

as to whether that intervention was at the invitation of a Cambodian king-to provide

protection against other enemies-or as an attempt by Vietnam to seize more territory.

French colonial rule over Cambodia prevented what probably would have been its total

absorption by Vietnam and Thailand.

After the French left, Communist Vietnamese troops used Cambodian territory during

the 1960-1975 war against U.S.-backed South Vietnam.

During the Lon Nol regime 1970-75 many Vietnamese were killed in pogroms.

When the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975 they tried to kill or expel ethnic Vietnamese

living in Cambodia. Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge fought a bloody border war that ended

in a Vietnamese invasion in late 1978, when the current Cambodian government was

installed.

The Khmer Rouge fought the Vietnamese-backed government from the jungles until the

signing of peace accords last October.

But fighting continues, and the Khmer Rouge say they will not cooperate with the

accord until all Vietnamese forces have left the country and their "puppet"

government is dismantled.

The Khmer Rouge radio habitually calls Vietnamese the derogatory term "yuon."Other

Cambodian political factions likewise have been using such propaganda to get popular

support and are trying to bar ethnic Vietnamese from voting in next year's U.N.-organized

election.

Last week, UNTAC Chief Yasushi Akashi strongly urged the factions to stop the racist

talk.

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