Jan 28, 2009

Khmer: Vietnam Rejects HRW Findings

Active ImageVietnam has rejected as “total fabrication” a recent report by Human Rights Watch on the “repression” against Khmer Krom



Below is an article published by: MSN News

Vietnam on Thursday rejected a report by Human Rights Watch on alleged abuses committed by the communist country against an ethnic Khmer minority, saying the contents were "made-up".

"We reject the made-up information in the recent HRW report on the Khmer people in Vietnam", foreign affairs spokesman Le Dung said.

The spokesman said the Khmer Krom living in the southern Mekong delta were an "inseparable part" of the country's complex mix of ethnic groups.

"There is no suppression or limitation of the rights of religious freedom, belief and speech against the Khmer people," he said, adding that those rights were guaranteed in Vietnam's constitution.

In a report released Wednesday, HRW accused Vietnam of oppressing the Khmer Krom to strengthen its hold on the region where they live, which is known to Cambodians as "Kampuchea Krom", or Lower Cambodia.

The region was incorporated into Vietnam during the French colonial era. Its inclusion in Vietnam remains a source of tension between Hanoi and Khmer nationalists who want it returned to Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch said the Khmer people "face serious restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, association, information, and movement".

"Wary about possible Khmer Krom nationalist aspirations, Vietnam has suppressed peaceful expressions of dissent and banned Khmer Krom human rights publications," the New York-based organisation said in a statement.

The HRW report includes criticism of Hanoi's "harsh response" to a February 2007 demonstration by Khmer Krom monks for religious freedom, saying at least 20 were forced to defrock and some sentenced to jail.

The report also points to "an escalation" in land disputes between Vietnamese authorities and Khmer Krom farmers, and also blames Cambodia for abusing Khmer Krom rights on its own soil.