A GROUP of 24 ethnic Khmer Krom remain in limbo after the chief of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Tumpun commune said he could not guarantee them a place to live.
The group – deported from Thailand December 5 as illegal immigrants after fleeing persecution in their native Vietnam – presented a letter to the commune chief Wednesday, asking for a place to live. Ang Chanrith, former executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organisation, said the group had sent a letter requesting identification cards, birth certificates, a family book and resident book on Tuesday to the Ministry of Interior.
Chau Sokha, 34, said the process could not take longer than a month. “The NGO that is sheltering us can only do so for another month,” he said. If the process “takes any longer than that, we will protest at the Ministry of Interior”.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak confirmed the group were free to live as Cambodian citizens, but questioned their demand for places to stay and identification cards.
“Any Khmer Krom under the Cambodian constitution are entitled to live here,” he said, but accused local NGOs and opposition parties of using the group to push their own agendas. “They are being used as political hostages,” he said.