So, this was the fifth and supposedly the last day of the anti-Vietnamese demonstrations which roamed the streets of Phnom Penh lately. It was all triggered by a spokesman from the Vietnamese embassy who said during a radio interview last June that Kampuchea Krom belonged to Vietnam long before its official annexation in 1949. These few words were enough to revive strong anti-Vietnamese feelings among a fraction of the population, and most certainly made the buddhist monks from Kampuchea Krom who live now in Phnom Penh very angry. As for the requested apologies from the Vietnamese embassy, the protesters are still waiting…
The 150 demonstrators from the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association who had been marching to the National Assembly in the morning to protest the annexation of Kampuchea Krom by Vietnam in 1949, continued their march towards the Vietnamese embassy with a stopover at the United Nations Human Rights office where a petition was delivered. Singing and fingerpointing the Vietnamese embassy ended the demonstration around 4:30 PM.
The moderate faction of the anti-Vietnamese Kampuchea Krom demonstrators, some 100 protesters led by Thach Setha, head of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association, patiently waited for the inauguration ceremony of the new Calmette hospital wing attended by King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen to be finished, before starting a march towards the National Assembly.
Today is World Habitat Day, and more than 800 people gathered in the streets of Phnom Penh to celebrate that one special day recognising their issue.
Remember: about 11% of the Cambodian population has been, at one point or another, a victim of a land issue since 2000. That is a lot of people. That is a lot of cropped up anger. Some of it was vented today through the demonstration’s loudspeakers which were taken to the National Assembly and the park in front of Wat Bothum.
A few members of the other land issue which preoccupies a lot of Cambodians, namely the territory of Kampuchea Krom which they claim was unrightfully grabbed by Vietnam in 1949, took advantage of the concentration of discontented people to distribute a booklet about their version of history.
UPDATE: at 16:45 I added photographs of people burning Dong during the Kampuchea Krom demonstration at the Vietnamese embassy.
A demonstration on World Teacher’s Day by Rong Chhun’s teachers union at Freedom Park and later in front of a police barricade preventing the demonstrators to reach the Ministry of Education, was used as a piggyback by those protesting for the second consecutive day in front of the Vietnamese embassy.
Members of the public and buddhist monks, unhappy with the lack of response on behalf of the Vietnamese Embassy regarding words said by a spokesman there about Kampuchea Krom belonging to Vietnam ‘since a long time’, resumed a demonstration held in July (see HERE and HERE). Some 500 people and buddhist monks showed up at the barricade set up by the riot police to protect the Vietnamese embassy.
About 200 monks, supported by several groups from the civil society, marched from Wat Ounalom to the National Assembly to protest the likely sale of land on which is located the Buddhist Institute to the Malaysian owned Naga Casino. A petition was delivered to a representative of the Royal Palace and to the National Assembly.
PS: Sony, you failed me. Your A7 was not triggering. Had to run back home and get the M9-P from under the dust…