Anti-Vietnamese tension rides high in Cambodia
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/16/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Southeast Asia has recently been plagued with hate crime and intolerance against ethnic and religious minorities. The one seeming exception seems to be Cambodia, where threats against minorities are relatively rare. However, anti-Vietnamese tensions have been reported here. There are concerns that this in turn will lead to the increased marginalization of indigenous minorities in the region.
Cambodian Deputy Sokha has blamed the Vietnamese for masterminding a 2010 Water Festival stampede in which more than 350 people died.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A recent example was when Cambodia opposition leader Sam Rainsy along with his deputy Kem Sokha used anti-Vietnamese rhetoric following the July 2013 election. Rainsy vowed to stop the purported invasion of Vietnamese, including "colonial" takeovers of Cambodia's territory. Rainsy also blamed the Vietnamese for job loss, land loss and ruling party control.
Deputy Sokha has taken the issue even further, presenting conspiracy theories that the Vietnamese government was responsible for "staging" the notorious Khmer Rouge security center, S-21. Sokha also blamed the Vietnamese for masterminding a 2010 Water Festival stampede in which more than 350 people died.
Anti-Vietnamese tension has been on the rise across Cambodia. In several polling stations across the country, ethnic Vietnamese and even those who looked Vietnamese were prevented from voting by mobs who termed them illegal.
Even worse, Vietnamese-owned shops were attacked in the wake of January's violent protests, while an ethnic Vietnamese man was killed the same month in what appeared to be a racist mob attack.
Ang Chanrith, executive director for the Minority Rights Organization, says that the Cambodian ruling party government must share a portion of the blame for ethnic tensions. Chanrith says that very little has been done to ensure that Vietnamese with legal rights to citizenship have been granted it.
"They are eligible to apply or get the certificate to become the Cambodian citizen, but the law is not enforced or implemented at all, which leads them to become stateless," he said.
The ethnically Vietnamese community of several hundred thousand has as a result been unable to integrate with the rest of Cambodian society. Children without birth certificates are barred from schooling, jobs are closed off and exploitation is rampant.
"Both political parties always use the scapegoat of the Vietnamese to gain support from voters - the ruling party doesn't implement the law . so they can gain Vietnamese voters.
"And the opposition party attacks the Vietnamese because they want to get support from people who discriminate against them," Chanrith adds.
The ruling party government of Cambodia has always been censured for failing to protect indigenous minorities.
While communal land titles are inscribed in law as an option for indigenous communities to protect large swathes of culturally valuable land, only five minority communities have been granted such titles in over a decade.
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