Jun 22, 2017

Khmer Krom: Protest Banned by Phnom Penh Authorities

Photo courtesy of KT/Chor Sokunthea


The Khmer Krom community was denied permission by Phnom Pehn municipal authorities to hold a rally on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the loss of their ancestral land to Vietnam, an event that would also be a moment for the community to denounce the enduring human rights abuses they are subjected to in the country. City governor has only granted them permission to rally in a district far from the city centre, to preserve “safety and order”. Earlier this month [June 2017], ten organisations affiliated to the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association signed a petition urging the Vietnamese government to stop hindering the rights of Khmer citizens living in the country.


The article below was published by Khmer Times:


The Kampuchea Krom community has been told they cannot hold a rally in Phnom Penh to mark the day their territory was lost to Vietnam and speak out against ongoing rights abuses.


The community had asked for permission to rally on Monday, commemorating 68 years since the French secession of Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam.


Ten organisations affiliated to the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association earlier this month signed a petition asking the Vietnamese government to stop restricting the rights of its citizens living in Vietnam. 


The groups hoped to use the rally to raise awareness of their plight and submit a second petition to the National Assembly, asking that June 4 be designated as an annual national day of mourning for the Kampuchea Krom.


Phnom Penh municipal authorities refused the request to protest, but said the group could hold a Buddhist ceremony on Saturday.


City governor Khoung Sreng wrote to Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, to say the rally could not go ahead. 


“Your request to hold a Buddhist ceremony offering food to 1,949 monks and mourning the loss of your land can go ahead at Wat Chas in Chroy Changvar district,” read the letter.


“But we cannot permit a rally to the National Assembly. If people gather and march along the street it affects public security, safety and order.” 


Mr Setha said his group would meet today to discuss what to do. He argued that it seemed unconstitutional to prevent people from taking part in a peaceful protest.