Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More than 1,700 ethnic Vietnamese families’ documents taken

More than 1,700 ethnic Vietnamese families’ documents taken

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An official checks the documents of an ethnically Vietnamese villager last month in Kampong Chhnang province. Heng Chivoan

More than 1,700 ethnic Vietnamese families’ documents taken

The process of revoking documents from ethnic Vietnamese people, many of whom have been living in Cambodia for generations, is halfway complete in Kampong Chhnang province, according to the provincial director of immigration.

In a move described as a human rights violation by observers, Ministry of Interior officials have spent eight days examining and revoking documents from 1,733 Vietnamese families in the province.

Some interviewed by The Post last week have lived in Cambodia for generations, only leaving the country temporarily in the 1970s to escape the purges of the ethnic Vietnamese under the Khmer Rouge.

Provincial Immigration Chief Pan Laikheang said he did not know when the inspection and seizure process would be complete.

In total, 2,393 families are being targeted in Kampong Chhnang, affecting over 10,000 people.

The Ministry of Interior previously identified 70,000 people eligible for document revocation nationwide, with over 90 percent of those ethnic Vietnamese.

“After seizing the irregular documents, we will fill out documents to be sent to the [Ministry of Interior], which will declare and recognise them as legal immigrants,” he said.

Migrants can typically apply for citizenship after seven years of residency. Despite the fact many of the individuals in question were born and raised in Cambodia, the seven-year wait would begin now, according to Laikheang’s deputy Pal Soth.

“During that time, they need to pay taxes on immigrant status,” Soth added.

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