Ethnic Khmer from South Vietnam are seeking an apology and recognition, to little avail.
Marching in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement – the country’s national day – between 800 and 1,000 protestors delivered a petition to several embassies and the UN’s offices, accusing Cambodia’s ruling party of failing to adhere to the spirit of the peace accord.
Venerable Soeun Hai, one of the protest leaders told reporters, “the rally is to urge the government to fully implement the agreement for the sake of peace, national unification, democracy, development, independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Still, none of the protesters went to the Vietnamese embassy, for fear of confrontation with the Cambodian authorities there.
The Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh has been the site of a series of protests in Phnom Penh recently, all steeped in historical grievances.
Earlier this month, a five-day protest was organized in Phnom Penh by the Khmer Kroms, ethnic Khmer from South Vietnam entitled to Cambodian citizenship. It was at least the fourth of its kind since June 2014, and yet it was not repressed by the authorities despite the demands of the Vietnamese government. Hundreds of monks and nationalists gathered in front of the Vietnamese embassy and called for a boycott of Vietnamese products until Trung Van Thong, a spokesperson for the Vietnamese embassy to Cambodia, apologizes for a comment he made on a radio program last June. Thong had stated that an area in southern Vietnam that was once part of the Khmer Empire belonged to Vietnam “long” before France’s official transfer of the land in 1949.