By Bunroeun Thach, Ph.D. (International Relations/Political Science) The world in general is still ignorant about what is Kampuchea Krom. Today, the origin of Kampuchea Krom is being systematically effaced from the world history by the Vietnamese colonialist government and its supporters. Kampuchea Krom history, its geography, its people, its culture, and its people identity are now being questioned by even the scholars. According to the July 12-25, 1996 issue of Phnom Penh Post which cover the “Angkor Borei: The Cradle of Cambodia?” It said: “Vietnamese scholars are quoted as saying: ‘The Funan (Nokor Phnom) empire existed before Khmer ethnicity arose. Linguistic evidence that these people were indeed Khmer is simply lacking”. Supporting this statement was an American scholar, Miriam Stark, who said: “There is no question that the people of Angkor empire were Khmer. But as to Funan (Nokor Phnom), we don’t know what language they spoke, though we can find out how old the site is (Angkor Borei), what agriculture was engaged in, what the demographic potential of the site was. We can learn how they lived, and what they did. But whether they were Khmer is perhaps an unanswering question.” As a child of the Khmer Krom, the indigenous people of this land which known to us as Kampuchea Krom, when I learned from these above quotations, they hurt very, very deeply. I would like therefore to demonstrate facts and evidences of the existences of my people, the Khmer Krom, to the world and our rightful ownership to this land, the ancient Nokor Phnom (Funan) or the current Kampuchea Krom. Kampuchea Krom is an un-official Khmer name for the Mekong delta region, comprised the entire southern part of Vietnam. Its territory measures up to 65,000 square kilometers. The indigenous people of Kampuchea Krom as Nokor Phnom (or Funan, in the corrupt Chinese translation). As a commercial power, Nokor Phnom was well known for its deep-sea city of O Keo (historians also used the corrupt term, Oc-eo). Its exact location is in the Kramoun Sar (Rach Gia) province. O Keo was a trading center in Southeast Asia where the Indian, the Arabs, the Roman, the Chines and Japanese met. Many Khmer and non-Khmer coins, including those of Rome have been found at O Keo in the surrounding provinces. Economically, the Khmer of Nokor Phnom were geniuses in their own right as is shown by their mastery of water management. One can still find hundreds if not thousands of canals today in the Mekong delta of Kampuchea Krom. They were built by the ancient Khmers of Nokor Phnom. In fact, Khmer Krom do not call their water streams as “Stung” as the Khmer in Cambodia called them. But they know only “Prek.” For “Prek” means canal and “Stung” means natural streams. This demonstrated that the Khmer Krom have their water management schemes being built into their cultural psychology long ago. They were the masters of the wet rice culture. During the Nokor Phnom period, Chinese and Indian sources proved that “Buddhism in Kampuchea was old as Brahmanism,” said Peter Gyallay-Pap, in Radical Conservatism, 1990. Archaeologists discovered statutes of Buddha as well as Lokecsvara, Vishnu, Shiva, Harihara, and many others scattered throughout Kampuchea Krom. During the Khmer Empire, according to Malleret, in his La Minorite Cambodgien de Chochine, hospitals bult by the thirteen century Khmer King Jayavarman VII have been located near Prek Russey (today Can Tho). Historically Nokor Phnom was the Khmer Empire’s first state, that is Kampuchea Krom today. Kampuchea Krom was part of the present Cambodia until May 21, 1949, when the colonialist French ceded it illegally to Vietnam. Thus today, Cambodia continues to have its legal rights over this former territory. The author of this article is also a Khmer Krom. Not long ago, we Khmer children enjoyed singing a song then “den dei Khmer pre tha Sovannaphum” (Khmer nation means Sovannabhumi). It was a nationalistic song that touched our hearts very deeply. Our song evoked in us nostalgia for the glorious Khmer past. As children we had learned that, since the time of Buddha, 500 B.C., Sovannaphum was what today is called mainland Southeast Asia, and the Khmer Empire encompassed the main part of that. We had also learned that evidence has been discovered showing that the Khmer civilization can be found in Laos, in Thailand, and in Vietnam, where millions of ethnic Khmer civilization to today’s regional geo-political realities. Westerners came to know the land of the first Khmer state Nokor Phnom was in a sinonized term Funan. Later they knew it was the “Lower Cochin-China” which the Khmer called it Kampuchea Krom (Lower Cambodia). In 1861, during which time the Vietnamese invaded this Khmer land, French scholars Cortambert and de Rosny, in their Le Kambodge Annamite, wrote: “Lower Cochin-China, or Vietnam’s Cambodia, which is the part of Cambodia which had submitted to the Annmite Empire, is the southern most part of this empire before the French conquest. It is today (1861) almost in our hands. It extends to the edge of “Cap de Kambodge (today Ca Mau) and swings to the northeast with the rest of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We can compare its extent with that of Britain. This country (Kampuchea Krom) is extremely fertile, formed entirely of the Mekong delta, and it is watered by the Dong Nai and the river of Prei Nokor (today Ho Chi Minh City). It is a great place for commerce. It is the connection between Thailand, Cambodia, English India, the Malaka Strait, and Burma on one side, and so the other side with Cochinchina proper (Annam), China, the Philippines, and others (author’s translation from French).” Later, in 1940s, French archaeologists such as Louis Malleret devoted his research to the past history of Kampuchea Krom. According to Malleret, in the B.S.E.I., Vol.12, p.8, said: â€œFrom the beginning of the first century to the thirteenth century, Kampuchea Krom was then part of the Khmer Empireâ€. One map, compiled with scientific proof in very recent years (1942) show about two hundred Khmer sites scattered around the delta. This map revealed the existence of the ancient canals, and the basins where today are the vast rice fields. After the 6th century, Nokor Phnom joined its sister state of Chen Lea (the known corrupt term is also Chenla) to form two Chen Lea(s): Chen lea tuk (Chenla Water) and Chen lea kauk (Chenla Dry or land). This union lasted for two hundred years. However, for a brief period they were both being dominated by Java until 802 when a united Khmer Empire emerged. It was the work of a Khmer monarch Jayavarman II (802-869). He was a Khmer prince who had been sent to Java to study. Upon his return, Jayavarman II brought home not only the Javanese polity devaraja( divine ruler) but was with that polity which he freed the Khmers from Javanese conquerors. And the Khmer Empire was formed (9th to 13th century). Since then, Khmer Empire flourished not only economically but culturally as recognized today by the art and architecture of Angkor Wat which was built by the Khmer king, Suriyavarman II (1113-1150). The Khmer kings were not only followers of Hinduism (devaraja) but Mahayana Buddhism (Budddharaja), including Suriyavarman (.1050) and Jayavarman VII (d. 1218?). By 13th century, the Khmer Empire began to crumble when faced with the newcomers from the north. First were the Thai. John Cady, in his Thailand, Burma, Laos, & Cambodia, 1966, said: “His reign (Suriyavarman II) witness the beginnings of the infiltration of Thai-Laos people by inclusion of Thai mercenary troops in the Cambodian army.” David Steinberg, in his Cambodia: Its people, its society, its culture, 1957, also said: “Jayavarman VII achieved great things, but after his death the empire began to fall apart. The people were exhausted by huge construction projects and by wars of conquest. Mongol pressure on the Thai kingdom in the thirteenth century gave greater impetus to Thai infiltration of Cambodia. By the end of the thirteenth century, independent Thai kingdoms had been created in former Khmer territory. In 1353, a Thai army captured Angkor; later the Kabujans (Khmer) regained it, but wars with The Thai contined for centuries. Angkor was looted a number of times, and thousands of artists and scholars were carried away to slavery in Thailand. In 1430-31 the Thais again captured Angkor, this time aided by treachery within the Khmer capital. This conquest marks the end of the magnificent Khmer era, as nearly as any event can. The Khmer recaptured their city, but abandoned it as a capital.” The next four hundred years (1432-1864) was the transition period of the Khmer Empire, from a great nation to a nearly extinct French protectorate. During the first half of this period, Cambodia was involved in a duel with Thailand, in which Thailand claimed suzerainty over Cambodia and for centuries tried to validate its claim by forceful means, as well as through puppet Khmer kings. Despite Thailand was showing greater strength in winning the wars over Cambodia, but the Thai did allow the Khmer to keep what was Khmer. By contrast, when the Khmer came in contact with the new neighbor to the east, Vietnam, it was a different matter. Earlier we described Kampuchea Krom as a fertile land, suitable for the northern neighbors to move in. Furthermore, the Khmer kings failed to a trap set by the Vietnamese court with sordid schemes. Jean Moura, in his Le Royaume du Cambodge, said: “In 1618, in the month of March, Prince Prea-chey-chessda was crowned under the title ‘Samdech prea-chey-chessda -thireach-reamea-thupphadey-barommopit… At this moment, the King of Annam presented one his daughters to be married to the newly crowned king of Cambodia. This princess was very beautiful. She succeeded in making the king fall in love with her. She was made the queen of the Kingdom.” In 1623, the King of Annam sent an ambassador with a rich present to the court of Oudong, then the Cambodian capital. At the beginning of this mission, the Vietnamese ambassador was ordered to seek authorization from the King of Cambodia, which meant the cessation of the Vietnamese government from paying customs for obtaining Prei Nokor (today Ho Chi Minh City). The Cambodian king, without objection, accepted these propositions and the Vietnamese established themselves on the territory of Prei Nokor. This kind of sordid acts on the part of the Vietnamese authorities created presidents for the Khmers to never again trust the Vietnamese. Furthermore, the Vietnamese were much brutal then the Thai, when the former conquered the Khmers. The Khmers always remind their children of the case, in 1813 during the forced labor of digging the Vinh Te canal. The Vietnamese soldiers buried the Khmer labourers alive and used their heads as stands for a wood stove to boil water for the Vietnamese masters. At that moment, the Vietnamese torturers said, “Be careful not to spill my master’s tea (Dung nhuc nhit kumpop te ong anh)”. According to Keith Weller Taylor, in his The Birth of Vietnam (1983), the original homeland of the Vietnamese is Tonking. Its society was formed by feudalism. The Hong Bang dynasty of Lac (247 B.C.) were their rulers. Another succeeded ruler was Thuc (257-208 B.C.). After this period, the Vietnamese were forced to stay under the domination of China for twelve centuries. The Chinese relinquished Vietnam in 939, but Vietnam still received strong influence form the Chinese court. Because of the uneasy relationship with China, the Vietnamese looked to the south and become expansionist conquerors themselves for the next thousand years. This southward movement was well known in Vietnamese as Nam Tien. The Vietnamese used a picture of the growing bamboo trees to symbolize their Nam Tien. Their philosophy is that just like how the bamboo trees grow, Vietnamese territory will always spread endlessly. After taking the entire Champa Kingdom (currently central part of Vietnam) in 1658, the Vietnamese then moved slowly to control Khmer territory, first in Kampuchea Krom and later they took the entire Cambodia. As mentioned above, the Vietnamese court of Hue received permission from the King of Cambodia in 1623 to station its troops in Prei Nokor. By 1698, Vietnam totally occupied Prei Nokor and baptized with its new name, Saigon (and since 1975 communist victory it has been re-named Ho Minh City). In fact, Vietnamese changed all the Khmer names of the Kampuchea Krom’s villages, towns and cities to Vietnamese. It was simply a means which the Vietnamese used to steal the land from the Khmer indigenous people and kept the world ignorance about the existence of Kampuchea Krom. Despite the Khmer court issued some kind of agreements with the Vietnamese court, the indigenous people, the Khmer Krom refused to recognize them. In 1743, the Khmer Krom of Khleang (Vietnamized Soc Trang) province revolved and expelled the Vietnamese. Khmer army, in 1748, also crushed the Vietnamese army at Sap Angkam, in Cambodia’s Pursat province. In 1776, people of Peam Me Sar (My Tho) and Long Hor (Vinh Long) provinces revolted and liberated their provinces. From 1835 to 1847, the famous people uprising took place in the province of Preah Trapeang (Travinh), under the leadership of Khmer governor, Chavay Kuy. In 1841, as a pacifist Khmer Buddhist, Chavay Kuy gave himself up in exchange for the Vietnamese court of Hue’s recognition and agreement for the Khmer Krom to have their rights and freeedom of worship, of following their traditional costumes, and practice their education in Khmer language. Following the Vietnamese beheaded Chavay Kuy, in 1841, Khmer people through out the country rose up against the Vietnamese armies. In 1858, the people of Moat Chrouk (Chau Doc) liberated their territory and rejoined it with Cambodia. In the same year, the Khmer army also drove the Vietnamese out the the provinces of Khleang (Soc Trang), Preah Trapeang (Travinh), and Kramoun Sar (Rach Gia). According to Adhemard Leclere, in his Histoire de Cambodge, 1941, King Ang Duong, in 1857, secretly contacted the French Emperor Napoleon III, through a French Catholic misssionary, Monseigneur Miche, invited the French to attack the Vietnamese forces stationed in Prei Nokor, with a promise to pay 500 (men) after the victory. In 1858, Napoleon III ordered Admiral Douda de la Grandiere to follow this request. King Ang Duong then sent Khmer Royal Army to liberate the southern Treang province, and others including Bassac, Preah Trapeang, Kramoun Sar, and Moat Chrouk, under the command of the Khmer General Kep. After, King Ang Duong passed away in 1860, his son, King Norodom came to the throne. In 1864, the Khmer King with a promise from French Admiral de la Grandiere, that France will return Kampuchea Krom (known as French Cochinchina) solely to Cambodia upon France withdrawal, placed Cambodia under French protection. However, in 1884, at a gun point, King Norodom (son of Ang Duong and grandfather of the current King Norodom Sihanouk) was forced to sign off Cambodia to become a French colony. However, under the French Khmer Krom enjoyed extent privileges, including having their rights to be Khmer citizen in Cambodia (same practice also adopted by the current Royal Government of Cambodia), their rights to follow Khmer educational system, their rights to worship Buddhist religion, their rights to hold governmental positions, including governorship of all Khmer provinces. Khmer Buddhist temple received direct order from Phnom Penh patriarchs. In fact, in 1941, after being crowned, King Noro dom Sihanouk went to province of Khleang and inaugurated the Friendship Association of Khmer Kampuchea Krom, which today has its branches throughout the world, including this one. However, the French colonialist government betrayed its own words when they departed from Kampuchea Krom. At midnight of May 21s, 1949, in front a great protest from the Khmer delegation headed by its Prime Minister, Chhean Vam and his delegates including Son Sann and Princess Ping Peang Yukunthor, the French National Assembly voted to connect its French Cochinchina (Kampuchea Krom) not to Cambodia which has historical and legal rights, but to Vietnam. V.M. Reddi, in his A History of Cambodian Independence, 1970, wrote: “Perhaps what affected the Cambodian nationalist feelings most was the transfer to Vietnam of the three western provinces of Cochinchina, namely, Rach Gia [Kramoun Sar], Soc Trang [Kleang], Travinh [Preah Trapeang] , which the Cambodian claimed as theirs on the basis of race, history, and population. Ever since the establishment of the French protectorate, Cambodia never ceased to remind France of its historical rights over these areas. In spite of these reminders, France, having committed herself to the Bao Dai solution, transferred them to Vietnam. No matter whether France’s troubles in Vietnam did or did not end, certainly, she gained the displeasure of the Cambodian nation.” France irresponsible actions caused the then Khmer Prime Minister Chhean Vam to present his resignation to King Norodom Sihanouk, at the Phnom Penh Royal Palace. But worst was that France had indirectly subjugated Khmer Krom for life of their rights to a nation-hood and their dignity as a human race, despite the French how bad the Vietnamese treated Khmer Krom. For instance, in 1945, the communist Vietminh persecuted many Khmer Krom a la Nazi styles. In which cases Khmer Krom leaders and intellectuals were called upon to gather themselves in the rice granaries (lam, in Vietnamese), in the provinces of Kleang (Soc Trang). As the granaries were filled with Khmer Krom, the doors were ordered to be closed and petroleum were poured upon them. Finally, the Vietnam set Khmer Krom on fire, alive! After the French was defeated in its Indochina, in post 1954 Geneva Conference, the Ngo Dinh Diem regime of Republic of Vietnam shown its true claws with his famous decree of August 29, 1956. He simply erased the Khmer nationality from the Khmer Krom by calling them “Nguoi Viet goc Mien” (Vietnamese of Khmer origin). This was a new term which was adopted by all following Vietnamese governments. Gerald C. Hickey, in his Accommodation and Coalition in South Vietnam, 1970, said: “The policy of Ngo Dinh Diem government was to integrate the ethnic minorities into the national framework by forced assimilation.” In 1969, twenty five thousand Khmer Krom Buddhist monks, under the leadership of the Venerables Lam Em and Kim Sang, conducted non-violent demonstration in front of the former Norodom Palace (which was being Vietnamized into Dinh Doc Lap–Independence Palace) in Saigon, demanding the minority rights for Khmer Krom from the Thieu-Ky regime. The American Vietnam War ended when communist forces took over Cambodia on April 17, 1975, Vietnam on April 30, 1975, and Vietnam on April 30, 1975, and Laos in a later date. In 1978, the communist Vietnam they invaded and occupied Cambodia for the 13 years. Ho Chi Minh’s political scheme of establishing the Indochina Federation under the Vietnamese control realized. The Khmer resistant forces with the support from United Nations in 1991 was able to have Vietnam agreed to relinquish Cambodia. However, under the communist Vietnamese regimes, Khmer Krom continued to face greater suffering, including exterminations and persecutions. There has not been Western studiesâ€™ being done, regarding how the Vietnamese communists treated Khmer Krom. Yet there were many un-reported incidents happened. Many witnesses who are alive today can testify about the communist Vietnamese atrocities against Khmer Krom in the past and present. In relations to the U.S Department of State sponsoring the so-called “study of genocide in Cambodia,” another study should be conducted, especially regarding how the communist Vietnam conducted its genocide actions against the Khmer people. After the 1976 Khmer Krom up rising, many Khmer Krom, especially Buddhist monks were persecuted by the Vietnamese authorities. One of them was the Venerable Kim Toc Chuong, the Buddhist patriarch in the Preah Trapeang province. Many thousands other Khmer Krom were imprisoned and faced brutal tortures until today. Khmer Krom ask the world nothing but their rights to freedom, human dignities, and self-determination, principles which are embedded in the Charter of the United Nations. An organization of community of nations, which Vietnam is a member.
Our legend has that, a long time ago in this world there was a man named Dhammabal Palakumar. He was the cleverest of all men and he could solve any problems, even the most complicated ones. Since this, his name was well known not only to all the being in this world but also to Mahabrahma, the King of First Heaven. When Mahabrahma heard about Dhammabal, he came down to this world to meet him, and to ask him three crucial philosophical questions. He made a promise to Dhammabal that if he could answer all three questions relating to happiness correctly, he would cut off his own head as an offering to Dhammabal. But if Dhammabal could not answer the questions, the King of First Heaven would cut off Dhammabal’s head. He gave him seven days to come up with the answers. The three questions were: What is the definition of happiness in the morning, at noon, and in the evening? Dhammabal was so overwhelmed by the difficulty of the questions and so filled with shame at his inability to answer them that he fled to the forest, there to kill himself in secret. Luckily, one day when he fell asleep under a palm tree. In the tree were two eagles, one male and one female, who were discussing the problems of happiness; from them he learned the answers to the questions. On the seven day, Kabil Maha Brahma arrived, and Dhammabal answered the questions in this way: “In the morning people have happiness on their faces because they washed their faces when they arose. At noon the people have happiness for their bodies because they bathed their bodies to be cool in the heat. In the evening they have their happiness on their feet because they washed them before they went to bed”. When he heard the questions answered correctly, Maha Brahma cut off his own head and offered it to Dhammabal. He then called his eldest daughter, the heavenly maiden, to take his head and put it on a golden dish (if his head is put on the ground, the ground will get on fire, but if it was put in the ocean the water will dry) and with it to circle Sumeru mountain for sixty minutes, then return it to the Kandhamali temple (a pagoda in heaven). Mahabrahma had seven daughters along with seven days of the week. If the New Year eve come in on Sunday, the heavenly maiden (Tevda thmei) named Karadunsa Debi (ka-ras-tung-sa tevi) Monday named Kara Gauraga Debi (ka-ras-go-rear-ka-tevi). Tuesday named Kararakya Debi (ka-ras-rear-kya-te-vi). Wednesday named Karamanda Debi (ka-ras-mon-tea-tevi). Thursday named Karakirini Debi (ka-ra-kay-ri-nei-tevi). Friday named Karakiminda Debi (ka-ra-kay-min-tear-tevi) Saturday named Karamahaudhara Debi (ka-ras- ma-ho-the-ras-tevi). For that reason, the seven heavenly maidens take turns each year circling the mountain with Kabila Maha Brahma’s head. After the Angkor Wat generation, the Khmer people adhered to the Lunar Calendar, and observed Miggasira (mic-kaa-say) or January as the first month New Year and Kattika (read cart-duck) or December as the year’s end. Since then, they have used the Solar Calendar in which the New Year is observed on the thirteenth day of Khe Cettr (read jetr) or April, unless it is a year of double months, when the New Year is observed on April 14th. Sometimes this during full moon, other time it’s in the dark moon, but the observance is never before April 4th or pass May 4th. There were three days of Chaul Chnam Thmei . The first day called Thngay Maha San Krane (thngaai maa-haa- saan- kraan) or Chaul Chnam; second day called Thngay Van Na Both (thngaai want naa-but); the third day called Thngay Leung Sak ( thngaai leung saac). The New Year day usually come on April 13th except the year have double months come on April 14th (sometimes four years, sometimes six, seven or nine years). The Names Of The Years In Khmer Zodiac 1 – JUT (joot) kando (kaan-deau) the year of RAT 2 – CHLAUV (chlauv) GAU (kau) the year of COW 0r OX 3 – KHAL (kaal) kla (Klaa) the year of TIGER 4 – THOSS (thoss) thonsay (tone-saai) the year of RABBIT 5 – RAUNG (roon) NEAK (neak) the year of DRAGON 6 – MSAGN (ma-seign) Poss (poss) the year of SNAKE 7 – MOMI (mau-mi) SESS (sest) the year of HORSE 8 – MOME (mau-mee) POPE (pau-phe) the year of GOAT 9 – VOK (vok) sva (svaa) the year of MONKEY 10 – ROKA (ro-kaa) mone (mon) the year of ROOSTER 11 – CO (choo) chke (chkee) the year of DOG 12 – KAU (keau) jrouk (chrook) the year of PIG
The following data and information was broadcasted on Voice of America December 3, 1999
I. Estimated Data on the Khmer Krom’s population and religion
1. Khmer Krom’s Population in the following countries: Vietnam: 7,000,000 (seven millions) Cambodia: 1,200,000 (1.2 million) Other countries: 40,000 Grand Total: 8,240,000 Other Countries
2. Khmer Krom’s Hinayana Buddhism in the following countries:
|Country||Number of pagoda||Number of Buddhist Monks|
(*) Number of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks in Cambodia could be significant higher, therefore Khmer Krom Associations in Cambodia could be only reliable sources to update above information.
II. IntroductionThe subject of the Khmer Krom population referencing by the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) at the VOA broadcasting on December 3, 1999 are based on a historical document authored by Somdech Son Sann (1) on February 27, 1994 for the government of Cambodia. The above data on population have been extrapolated at a simple growth rate of 2.3% per annum. And the KKF has incorporated three major adjustments to this unfortunate population. Reference Data in 1994: (This data have not taken into consideration the massacres to the Khmer Krom people by Vietminh in WWII ended 1945, by the Vietnam War ended 1975, by the Vietnamese communists in Vietnam and in Cambodia ended 1993): Population : 8,000,000 (eight millions) Simple Interpolation of the Khmer Krom Population:
|Year||Growth rate per year||Population||Growth per annum|
III. Major Adjustments to the Khmer Krom Population
There are historical and political reasons for the Vietnamese communists to abuse the Khmer Krom people in Vietnam. The southern part of Vietnam or former Cochin-China during the French colonialism was part of Cambodia. In 1949, the French ceded that portion of the land to the last emperor of Vietnam, his majesty Bao Dai, in an obscure agreement. Vietnam wants to erase the Khmer Krom People’s population, social, cultural and historical traces by implementing cultural terrorism, ethnic reengineering and ethnic cleansing policies against these unfortunate people. 1. Massacred by the Vietminh during the WWII – ended 1945 During the World War II in parallel with the sufferings of the Jews in Europe inflicted upon them by the Nazi, the Khmer Krom People in southern part of Vietnam have suffered of untold massacres by the Vietminh toward their general population. The Khmer Krom: men, women, children, and Buddhist monks have been wholesale murdered. Many of their Buddhist temples have been destroyed. The extrapolated data of the damages to their population cumulated to an estimation of about 200,000 people have been murdered by the Vietminh. 2. Massacred and killed in the Vietnam War – ended 1975 During the Vietnam War, the Khmer Krom people have suffered even more. Both sides of the war have employed more sophisticated tactics to exploit the aspiration of the Khmer Krom people. Specifically, the modern war machinery and ammunitions as well as political trickery which the Vietcong, the North Vietnamese and the government of then Republic of Vietnam in the South Vietnam, have devastated even greater to the Khmer Krom. Their Khmer Krom: men, women, children, and Buddhist monks have been wholesale slaughtered. Many of their Buddhist temples have been destroyed. The extrapolated data on the damages to the Khmer Krom’s population has been cumulated to an estimation of about 300,000 people, have been murdered by all Vietnamese factions of the war. 3. Massacred and killed in the Killing Field and by the Vietnamese communists – ended 1993 In the proxy war of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge in the Killing Fields, the Khmer Krom’s population in Cambodia has suffered untold damages. The United Nations inquiry into the crime against humanities in Cambodia has not taken into consideration of the sufferings of Khmer Krom People in Cambodia. A conservative estimation to be about 150,000 Khmer Krom lives has been lost in the Killing Fields 1975 – 1979. Vietnam has cooperated with Khmer Rouge to kill Khmer Krom members in Cambodia as well in 1975 and 1976. During the brutality rule of Vietnamese communists after 1975, the Khmer Krom People in southern part of Vietnam have continued to suffer. In many fabricated pretexts, Vietnam have exploited the Khmer Krom People aspiration and incited violence in many provinces of southern Vietnam. The Khmer Krom population heavy casualties have been inflicted by Vietnam government machinery in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and continued on long after the Vietnam’s Doi Moi program has been initiated in 1986. A conservative estimation to be about 50,000 Khmer Krom lives have been lost in mass murders, labor camps, education camps, etc. After Vietnam invaded Cambodia 1979 and dominated Cambodia until 1993, there have been estimated about additional 20,000 Khmer Krom members have been massacred in Cambodia under the leadership of Vietnam.
IV. Summary the estimated figure of Khmer Krom world wide in 1999
Total Population: 8,960,000 (extrapolated) – 200,000 (lost of Khmer Krom’s lives in WWII- ended 1945) – 300,000 (lost of Khmer Krom’s lives in Vietnam War – ended 1975) – 150,000 (lost of Khmer Krom’s lives in the killing field in Cambodia- ended 1979) – 50,000 (lost of Khmer Krom’s lives under Vietnam communists after 1975) – 20,000 (lost of Khmer Krom’s lives under Vietnam in Cambodia after 1979) Net Khmer Krom Population after heavy loses : 8,240,000 To the Western Countries : 40,000 Escaped to Cambodia : 1,200,000
Approximately 95% of the Khmer Krom are Buddhists. They practice Hinayana Buddhism, (Theravada or Southern School) whereas most Vietnamese practice Mahayana Buddhism (Northern School) or Christianity. The Chams are Muslims, and the Chinese are mostly Buddhists, and some Christians. There are more than 500 Buddhist temples and more than 10,000 monks through out Kampuchea Krom. Some temples were erected many centuries ago are still standing today, but many others were destroyed during the wars.
The Khmer language is spoken in all Khmer families and communities. For official business, however, the Vietnamese language is strictly enforced. About 10% of the Khmer Krom are able to speak and write Vietnamese correctly. The Khmer language is taught at home and in the temples, but it is not permitted in any official business. The struggle for the Vietnamese government to allow the use of Khmer in school or public place has been advocated for years, but no satisfactory result has ever been achieved. In many instances, thousands of Khmer Krom were accused, jailed, tortured, deported, or persecuted for speaking, learning, or teaching the Khmer language. The Vietnamese do not allow books or documents to be written or published in Khmer unless they are to be used as propaganda.
For the inhabitants, it is estimated that there are about 8,240,000 Khmer Kampuchea Krom, worldwide. Khmer Krom meaning the Khmer who live in the southern part of Cambodia (Kambuja). Approximately eighty percent of them live in the Mekong delta, and a small number is in other provinces through out the southern part of Vietnam (Today the Socialist Republic of Vietnam). The Khmer Krom people have been in existence in this part of the peninsula since the beginning of the first century. They have sacrificed their lives to hold on to the territory since then. The territory was immense compared to the Khmer population at that time, creating opportunities for expansionist neighbours to invade. For this reason, after the Vietnamese exterminated the Kingdom of Champa; they used all kinds of pretexts and tactics to move their people to Kampuchea Krom. Since the French colonial departed Indochina in 1954, after nearly one hundred years (1867-1954) of domination on this land, Kampuchea Krom has been placed under Vietnamese control. The Khmer authority had filed complaints against this criminal act, but the French National Assembly chose to ignore them. Besides the Vietnamese, there are Cham and Chinese living in Kampuchea Krom. The Khmer Krom are out numbered by their “invaders” and “rulers”, who once asked the Khmer Krom for asylum or migration only. About seventy percent of the Vietnamese and ninety-five percent of the Chinese live in the cities and fill most of important jobs in government and business. The Khmer Krom, live through out the country, especially, in the Mekong delta.
Although Cambodia had a rich and powerful past under the Hindu state of Funan and the Kingdom of Angkor, by the mid 19th century the country was on the verge of dissolution. After repeated requests for French assistance, a protectorate was established in 1863. By 1884, Cambodia was a virtual colony; soon after it was made part of the Indochina Union with Annam, Tonkin, Cochin-China, and Laos. France continued to control the country even after the start of World War II through its Vichy government. In 1945, the Japanese dissolved the colonial administration, and King Norodom Sihanouk declared an independent, anti-colonial government under Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh in March 1945. This government was deposed by the Allies in October. Many of Son Ngoc Thanh’s supporters escaped and continued to fight for independence as the Khmer Issarak. Although France recognized Cambodia as an autonomous kingdom within the French Union, the drive for total independence continued, resulting in a split between those who supported the political tactics of Sihanouk and those who supported the Khmer Issarak guerilla movement. In January 1953, Sihanouk named his father as regent and went into self-imposed exile, refusing to return until Cambodia gained genuine independence. Full Independence: Sihanouk’s actions hastened the French government’s July 4, 1953 announcement of its readiness to “perfect” the independence and sovereignty of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Full independence came on November 9, 1953, but the situation remained unsettled until a 1954 conference was held in Geneva to settle the French-Indochina war. All participants, except the United States and the State of Vietnam, associated themselves (by voice) with the final declaration. The Cambodian delegation agreed to the neutrality of the three Indochinese states but insisted on a provision in the ceasefire agreement that left the Cambodian government free to call for outside military assistance should the Viet Minh or others threaten its territory. Neutral Cambodia: Neutrality was the central element of Cambodian foreign policy during the 1950s and 1960s. Sihanouk announced the policy in 1955 and reaffirmed it in refusing to join the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). This policy, and Cambodia’s close relations with communist countries, was unwelcome to its neighbors, Thailand and South Vietnam, resulting in a break in diplomatic relations with both nations. By the mid 1960s, parts of Cambodia’s eastern provinces were serving as bases for North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong (NVA/VC) forces operating against South Vietnam, and the port of Sihanoukville was being used to supply them. As NVA/VC activity grew, the United States and South Vietnam became concerned, and in 1969, the United States began a series of air raids against NVA/VC base areas inside Cambodia. Throughout the 1960s, domestic politics polarized. The middle class opposed Sihanouk’s foreign policy and resented his increasingly autocratic rule, as did the leftists including Paris-educated leaders such as Son Sen, Ieng Sary, and Saloth Sar (later known as Pol Pot), who led an insurgency under the clandestine Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). Sihanouk called these insurgents the Khmer Rouge, literally the “Red Khmer.” But the 1966 National Assembly elections showed a significant swing to the right, and Gen. Lon Nol formed a new government, which lasted until 1967. During 1968 and 1969, the insurgency worsened, and Prince Sihanouk became increasingly alarmed at the growing NVA/VC presence in eastern Cambodia and growing anti-Vietnamese sentiment. Sihanouk’s diplomatic efforts to persuade the Vietnamese to leave were unsuccessful. In August 1969, Sihanouk asked General Lon Nol to form a new government, which began to exclude the prince from decision-making. Under increasing pressure from conservatives in the National Assembly, Sihanouk went abroad for medical treatment in January 1970. The Khmer Republic and the War: In March 1970, the National Assembly withdrew its confidence from Sihanouk, declared a state of emergency, and gave full power to Prime Minister Lon Nol. Son Ngoc Thanh announced his support for the new government. On October 9, the Cambodian monarchy was abolished, and the country was renamed the Khmer Republic. Hanoi rejected the new republic’s request for the withdrawal of NVA/VC troops and began to reinfiltrate some of the 2,000-4,000 Cambodians who had gone to North Vietnam in 1954. They became cadre in the insurgency. Prince Sihanouk joined with the insurgents to form the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea (RGNU) in exile in Beijing. The prestige of his name assisted the insurgents in attracting new recruits from the peasantry, but control of the movement rested with the Communist Party under the nominal leadership of Khieu Samphan of the Paris-educated faction of the Communist Party, rather than a Hanoi returnee. The Khmer Republic initially enjoyed broad support from the middle classes in the cities and towns, but much of the peasantry was politically apathetic or loyal to Prince Sihanouk. The United States moved to provide material assistance to the new government’s armed forces, which were engaged against both the Khmer Rouge insurgents and NVA/VC forces. In April 1970, US and South Vietnamese forces entered Cambodia in a campaign aimed at destroying NVA/VC base areas. Although a considerable quantity of equipment was seized or destroyed, NVA/VC forces proved elusive and moved deeper into Cambodia. NVA/VC units overran many Cambodian army positions while the Khmer Rouge expanded their small-scale attacks on lines of communication. The Khmer Republic’s leadership was plagued by disunity among its three principal figures: Lon Nol, Sihanouk’s cousin Sirik Matak, and National Assembly leader In Tam. Lon Nol remained in power in part because none of the others was prepared to take his place. In 1972, a constitution was adopted, a parliament elected, and Lon Nol became president. But disunity, the problems of transforming a 30,000 man army into a national combat force of more than 200,000 men, and spreading corruption weakened the civilian administration and army and drained the enthusiastic urban support so prevalent just after Sihanouk was deposed. The insurgency continued to grow, with supplies and military support provided by North Vietnam. But inside Cambodia, Pol Pot and Ieng Sary asserted their dominance over the Vietnamese-trained communists, many of whom were purged. At the same time, the Khmer Rouge forces became stronger and more independent of their Vietnamese patrons. By 1973, the Khmer Rouge was fighting major battles against government forces on their own, and they controlled nearly 60% of Cambodia’s territory and 25% of its population. At the same time, concern about continued US support began to affect the republic’s morale. The government made three unsuccessful attempts to enter into negotiations with the insurgents, but by 1974, the Khmer Rouge were operating as divisions, and virtually all NVA/VC combat forces had moved into South Vietnam. Lon Nol’s control was reduced to small enclaves around the cities and main transportation routes. More than 2 million refugees from the war lived in Phnom Penh and other cities. On New Year’s Day 1975, communist troops launched an offensive which, in 117 days of the hardest fighting of the war, destroyed the Khmer Republic. Simultaneous attacks around the perimeter of Phnom Penh pinned down republican forces, while other Khmer Rouge units overran firebases controlling the vital lower Mekong resupply route. A US-funded airlift of ammunition and rice ended when Congress refused additional aid for Cambodia. Phnom Penh and other cities were subjected to daily rocket attacks causing thousands of civilian casualties. Phnom Penh surrendered on April 17; five days after the US mission evacuated Cambodia. Democratic Kampuchea: Many Cambodians welcomed the arrival of peace, but the Khmer Rouge soon turned Cambodia – which it called Democratic Kampuchea (DK) – into a land of horror. Immediately after its victory, the new regime ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns, sending the entire urban population out into the countryside to till the land. Thousands starved or died of disease during the evacuation. Many of those forced to evacuate the cities were resettled in “new villages,” which lacked food, agricultural implements, and medical care. Many starved before the first harvest, and hunger and malnutrition – bordering on starvation – were constant during those years. Those who resisted or who questioned orders were immediately executed, as were most military and civilian leaders of the former regime who failed to disguise their pasts. Prince Sihanouk returned from exile with members of the RGNU, but the Communist Party held all significant power. Within the CPK, the Paris-educated leadership – Pol Pot, Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, and Son Sen – was in control. A new constitution in January 1976 established Democratic Kampuchea as a communist “people’s republic”, and a 250-member “Assembly of the Representatives of the People of Kampuchea” (PRA) was selected in March to choose the collective leadership of a State Presidium, the chairman of which became the head of state. Sihanouk resigned as head of state on April 4, and RGNU Prime Minister Penn Nouth announced the resignation of the RGNU cabinet April 6. On April 14, after its first session, the PRA announced that Khieu Samphan would chair the State Presidium for a 5 years term. It also picked a 15-member cabinet headed by Pol Pot as prime minister. Prince Sihanouk was put under virtual house arrest. The new government sought to restructure Cambodian society completely. Remnants of the old society were abolished and Buddhism suppressed. Agriculture was collectivized, and the surviving part of the industrial base was abandoned or placed under state control. Cambodia had neither a currency nor a banking system. The regime controlled every aspect of life and reduced everyone to the level of abject obedience through terror. Torture centers were established, and detailed records were kept of the thousands murdered there. Public executions of those considered unreliable or with links to the previous government were common. Few succeeded in escaping the military patrols and fleeing the country. Solid estimates of the numbers who died between 1975 and 1979 are not available, but it is likely that hundreds of thousands were brutally executed by the regime. Hundreds of thousands more died of starvation and disease (both under the Khmer Rouge and during the Vietnamese invasion in 1978). Estimates of the dead range from 1 to 3 million, out of a 1975 population estimated at 7.3 million. Democratic Kampuchea’s relations with Vietnam and Thailand worsened rapidly as a result of border clashes and ideological differences. While communist, the CPK was fiercely anti-Vietnamese, and most of its members who had lived in Vietnam were purged. Democratic Kampuchea established close ties with China, and the Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict became part of the Sino-Soviet rivalry, with Moscow backing Vietnam. Border clashes worsened when Democratic Kampuchea’s military attacked villages in Vietnam. The regime broke relations with Hanoi in December 1977, protesting Vietnam’s attempt to create an “Indochina Federation.” In mid-1978, Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia, advancing about 30 miles before the arrival of the rainy season brought a halt to the Vietnamese advance. In December 1978, Vietnam announced formation of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS) under Heng Samrin, a former DK division commander. It was composed of Khmer communists who had remained in Vietnam after 1975 and Khmer Rouge officials from the eastern sector-like Heng Samrin and Hun Sen-who had fled to Vietnam from Cambodia in 1978. In late December 1978, Vietnamese forces launched a full invasion of Cambodia, capturing Phnom Penh on January 7 and driving the remnants of Democratic Kampuchea’s army westward toward Thailand. The Vietnamese Occupation: On January 10, 1979, the Vietnamese installed Heng Samrin as head of state in the new People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). The Vietnamese army continued its pursuit of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces. At least 600,000 Cambodians displaced during the Pol Pot era and the Vietnamese invasion began streaming to the Thai border in search of refuge. The international community responded with a massive relief effort coordinated by the United States through UNICEF and the World Food Program. More than $400 million was provided between 1979 and 1982, of which the United States contributed nearly $100 million. At one point, more than 500,000 Cambodians were living along the Thai-Cambodian border and more than 100,000 in holding centers inside Thailand. Currently, there are approximately 300,000 Cambodian displaced persons and refugees residing in camps in Thailand. Vietnam’s occupation army of as many as 200,000 troops controlled the major population centers and most of the countryside from 1979 to September 1989. The Heng Samrin regime’s 30,000 troops were plagued by poor morale and widespread desertion. Resistance to Vietnam’s occupation continued, and there was some evidence that Heng Samrin’s PRK forces provided logistic and moral support to the guerrillas. A large portion of the Khmer Rouge’s military forces eluded Vietnamese troops and established themselves in remote regions. The non-communist resistance, consisting of a number of groups which had been fighting the Khmer Rouge after 1975 – including Lon Nol-era soldiers – coalesced in 1979-80 to form the Khmer People’s National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF), which pledged loyalty to former Prime Minister Son Sann, and Moulinaka (Movement pour la Liberation Nationale de Kampuchea), loyal to Prince Sihanouk. In 1979, Son Sann formed the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF) to lead the political struggle for Cambodia’s independence. Prince Sihanouk formed his own organization, FUNCINPEC, and its military arm, the Armee Nationale Sihanoukienne (ANS) in 1981. Warfare followed a wet season/dry season rhythm after 1980. The heavily armed Vietnamese forces conducted offensive operations during the dry seasons, and the resistance forces held the initiative during the rainy seasons. In 1982, Vietnam launched a major offensive against the main Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Melai in the Cardamom Mountains. Vietnam switched its target to civilian camps near the Thai border in 1983, launching a series of massive assaults, backed by armour and heavy artillery, against camps belonging to all three resistance groups. Hundreds of civilians were injured in these attacks, and more than 80,000 were forced to flee to Thailand. Resistance military forces, however, were largely undamaged. In the 1984-85 dry season offensive, the Vietnamese attacked base camps of all three resistance groups. Despite stiff resistance from the guerrillas, the Vietnamese succeeded in eliminating the camps in Cambodia and drove both the guerrillas and civilian refugees into neighboring Thailand. The Vietnamese concentrated on consolidating their gains during the 1985-86 dry seasons, including an attempt to seal guerrilla infiltration routes into the country by forcing Cambodian laborers to construct trench and wire fence obstacles and minefields along virtually the entire Thai-Cambodian border. Within Cambodia, Vietnam had only limited success in establishing its client Heng Samrin regime, which was dependent on Vietnamese advisors at all levels. Security in some rural areas was tenuous, and major transportation routes were subject to interdiction by resistance forces. The presence of Vietnamese throughout the country and their intrusion into nearly all aspects of Cambodian life alienated much of the populace. The settlement of Vietnamese nationals, both former residents and new immigrants, further exacerbated anti-Vietnamese sentiment. Reports of the numbers involved vary widely with some estimates as high as 1 million. By the end of this decade, Khmer nationalism began to reassert itself against the traditional Vietnamese enemy. In 1986, Hanoi claimed to have begun withdrawing part of its occupation forces. At the same time, Vietnam continued efforts to strengthen its client regime, the PRK, and its military arm, the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces (KPRAF). These withdrawals continued over the next two years, although actual numbers were difficult to verify. Vietnam’s proposal to withdraw its remaining occupation forces in 1989-90-the result of ongoing international pressure-forced the PRK to begin economic and constitutional reforms in an attempt to ensure future political dominance. In April 1989, Hanoi and Phnom Penh announced that final withdrawal would take place by the end of September 1989. The military organizations of Prince Sihanouk (ANS) and of former Prime Minister Son Sann (KPNLAF) underwent significant military improvement during the 1988-89 period and both expanded their presence in Cambodia’s interior. These organizations provided a political alternative to the Vietnamese-supported People’s Republic of Kampuchea [PRK] and the murderous Khmer Rouge. After two regional peace efforts, Prince Sihanouk, Son Sann, and Hun Sen (Prime Minister of the Phnom Penh regime) met in Jakarta in May 1989 to try to find a formula for national reconciliation. Hun Sen proposed including key leaders of the resistance groups under the PRK mantle, through their participation in mostly cosmetic National Reconciliation Council to oversee eventual elections. Prince Sihanouk and the other resistance leaders rejected this proposal as legitimising the Phnom Penh regime and allowing the continuation of its unilateral control, which they felt was not likely to result in a free and fair election process. From July 30 to August 30, 1989, representatives of 18 countries, the four Cambodian parties, and the UN Secretary General met in Paris in an effort to negotiate a comprehensive settlement. They hoped to achieve those objectives seen as crucial to the future of post-occupation Cambodia: a verified withdrawal of the remaining Vietnamese occupation troops, the prevention of the return to power of the Khmer Rouge, and genuine self-determination for the Cambodian people. The Paris Conference on Cambodia was able to make some progress in such areas as the workings of an international control mechanism, the definition of international guarantees for Cambodia’s independence and neutrality, plans for the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons, the eventual reconstruction of the Cambodian economy, and ceasefire procedures. However, complete agreement among all parties on a comprehensive settlement remained elusive. In early 1990, the negotiating process continued through consultations with a view toward finalizing a comprehensive solution by reconvening the Paris Conference in the future. By late September 1989, the Vietnamese announced that they had withdrawn the last 50,000 of their troops from Cambodia. However, this withdrawal was not verified by a credible monitoring force. Nonetheless, with the Vietnamese occupation no longer a primary concern, the crucial issue for the future is the ability of the four principal Cambodian political factions-the non-communists (consisting of Prince Sihanouk’s FUNCINPEC and Son Sann’s KPNLF), the Vietnamese-sponsored Phnom Penh regime, and the Khmer Rouge – to establish a national reconciliation process.
Thus, on the one hand the increasing concern of Cambodian public opinion for the security of over half a million Khmers inadequately and exposed to all kinds of vexations, and on the other hand the inalienable rights of Cambodia over the Cochin-China territories, place upon the Cambodian Government the responsibility of providing world opinion with an objective picture of the situation. In connection with the above, it may be appropriate to draw the attention of the Member States of the United Nations to repeated violations of Cambodian’s borders by elements of South Viet-Nam’s regular armed forces, followed by acts of violence upon Cambodians living in border areas. The erection of military outpost along the same borders, and the concentration of considerable South Viet-Namesed forces (roughly estimated at twice the strength of the Royal Khmer Armed Forces) 200 r 300 yards from the frontier give cause for legitimate concern to both the Royal government and the Cambodian people. We drew the attention of the International Supervisory Commission on the implementation of the 1954 Geneva Agreements on a cease-fire in Indo-China to those disturbing which constitute a possible threat to peace in that part of the world. The attached Annex gives and idea of the importance of those preparations and of their emotional impact on Cambodian opinion.. The Cambodian Government is staunchly attached to its policy of peace, and it entertains no antagonistic feelings towards neighboring countries, whose nationals living in Cambodia enjoy the full exercise of their rights. In that spirit, it wishes to call the attention of all Nations to the serious nature of the maltreatment inflicted upon the Khmers of Cochin-China, as well as to the need for a fair settlement of the territorial question of Cochin-China, since the continuance of such a situation is liable to endanger the maintenance of peace in that region with the possibility that world peace and security might eventually be impaired, a prospect which no generous-minded man and no nation truly to the cause of peace and justice can possibly ignore. ANNEX REINFORCEMENT OF SOUTH-VIETNAMESE TROOPS ALONG THE CAMBODIAN FRONTIER Since 1956, the South-Vietnams authorities have continually reinforced their troop along the Cambodian frontier. This unusual deployment of South-Vietnamese forces, which is certainly on a larger scale than that necessary to put down pillage in frontier regions, gives cause for concern. The Cambodian press and the foreign press in Cambodia continually draw attention to this disposition of troops and are unanimous in expressing the anxiety of the peace-loving population of Cambodia. According to the report in the newspaper “San Hoa du Pao” of 4 September, 1957, the following troops have been placed along the Cambodian frontier: Province of Swayrieng: 4 military posts, each with 150-200 men, all close to the frontier, a large post at Tayninh (South-Vietnam), with an effective force of 4,000 men and destined to receive 60,000 recruits. Province of Kompong Cham: 1 military post of 300 men, 2 kilometres from the Cambodian frontier, another post under construction. Province of Kampot: 2 military posts already existent of which the garrisons have been reinforced. Two new posts under construction. Reinforcement of equipment and personnel at the aerodrome of Hatien (1,00 new soldiers in the Hatien region). Province of Kratie: 5 new posts with personnel equal to two companies have placed a few hundred metres from the Cambodian frontier. Province of Prey Veng: Concentration of troops 3 kilometers from the frontier. 4 warships about 3 kilometers from Cambodian frontier.
Since the Geneva Conference was held on 20th July, 1954, the fundamental rights and deeply-felt aspirations of the Khmer population of Cochin-China have been impaired by the occurrence of a series of new developments of increasing portent. These have aroused considerable concern in the Khmer people, always mindful of the fate of their brothers in Cochin-China. A systematic racial policy is being implemented with the obvious intention of eventually eliminating all trace likely to testify to the Cambodian character of the Cochin-China territories. These extremely serious problems, which must be solved without delay through a fair settlement taking into account the interests of all involved. 1. While the South Vietnam Government was fully aware both of Cambodia’s rights in the matter, and of the aspirations of the Khmer population of Cochin-China, it signed a bilateral Convention with France on 16th August, 1955, imposing Vietnamese nationality on the later. This follows from Article 1 of the Convention, which lays down that, “for the purposes of this Convention, the words ‘Native of South Vietnam’ shall refer to all persons with both parents of Vietnamese descent or belong to ethnic minorities settled in Vietnamese territory”. Under Article 3, it is stated that “former French subjects native of South Viet-Nam (Cochin-China) or former settlements of Haiphong and Tourane are of Vietnamese nationality regardless of their place of residence on 9th March, 1949”. 2. The above-mentioned convention was the starting point of a policy intensive assimilation, which is absolutely incompatible with the most firmly established principles of international Law regarding ethnic minorities. An ordinance issued on 29th August 1956, by the South Viet-Nam Government made it compulsory, subject to serve penalties, for all Chinese born in South Vietnam and former French citizens who had opted for Vietnamese nationality to adopt Vietnamese sounding names. On that occasion, the same obligation was imposed on the Khmers in Cochin-China in spite of the fact they are not foreign immigrations, but native of the country. In addition, registrars were instructed to make alterations in the population registers all over the country. 3. In pursuance of the same policy, the South Viet-Nam authorities have cancelled the entry “Cambodian race” from the identification papers which formerly bore it. Under the French colonial regime all identification documents issued to Cambodians in Cohin-China contained the following entries. Nationality: French subject Race: Cambodian Instead, the new documents issued by the Vietnamese authorities read: Nationality: Viet-Namese Race: Viet-Namese Similarly it was decided to cut down the teaching in schools on the Khmer language as a first step towards its gradual suppression, in disregard on the assurance given by the Vietnamese delegation to the Geneva International Conference on Education (Report by the Representative of Viet-Nam to the 18th Conference held from 4th to 17th July, 1955). 5. Only recently the South Vietnamese Government, still pursuing a policy aim at removing all Cambodian traces from the Khmer territories, re-named certain provinces when their old names were still reminiscent of their Khmer origin. Thus Tra Vinh, derived from the Cambodian Trapeang, has been re-styled Vinh-Bing, Srok Khleang, which became Soc-Trang is now Ba-Xuyen, etc. 7. Other political actions of an infinitely more serious nature have taken place which offended the civilized mind, and cannot and must not be ignored by the Members of the United Nations. a. How, for instance, should one feel about the obligation imposed on Khmers in Cochin-China to wear the Vietnamese national dress? b. While in the whole Buddhism world-to which, incidentally, Vietnamese also belongs – the priesthood of that religion is the object of the deepest veneration, the Government of South Viet-Nam, in utter defiance of the most sacred precepts of Buddhism, compulsorily enlisted Khmer Buddhist monks in the South Viet-Nam armed forces. c. In addition, traditional relations between the Khmer Buddhist clergy of Cochin-China and that of Cambodian are constantly hindered by south Vietnamese authorities, who also interfere with the introduction into Cochin-China of newspapers, periodicals, and books in the Khmer language. d. As might have been expected, many young Cambodian clerics and others had to leave South Viet-Nam and take refuge in Cambodia. Perhaps one of the objectives of the South Viet-Namese Government is to make the position of the Khmers unbearable, while in Cambodia Viet-Namese immigrants live in complete security and peace. e. urthermore, in the acute political unrest prevailing in South Viet-Nam the Khmer minority has crushed since 1945 between rival political faction engaged n violent armed conflict. As a result, tens of thousands of Khmers, exposed to reprisals from all sides, are dying in obscurity. f. Lastly, the South Viet-Nam Government, applying the principle that might is right, proceeds with the systematic transplantation of refugees from North Viet-Nam into districts by Khmers, expropriating or even expelling people from their land, and sometimes form their pagodas. All those measures are condemned by international ethics. They are part of a general scheme or policy tending both to assimilate the Khmer minority through the most extreme and brutal methods, and to eliminate the territorial problem. The Royal Government of Cambodia particularly wishes to draw the attention of the Members of the United Nations to those actions which are obviously tantamount to physical and cultural genocide.
Thus it is claimed that the former French colony of Cochin-China consists of territories belong to Cambodia. Evidence to that effect is not lacking. From an archaeological point of view, the existence of towers, bronze stone statues, inscriptions, religious edifices, brick shrines, steles, etc., proves beyond all question the presence of Cambodians in those parts. In addition to such archaeological evidence, the old maps of Indo-China (those compiled in 1593 and 1638, the map drawn by Father De Rhodes in 1650, Robert’s map of Indo-China dating from 1717, Durville’s map of Indo-China published in 1755, etc.), as well as various documents written either in the Khmer or the Annamite languages or in French, confirm Cambodia’s sovereignty over the Cochin-China territories. (See plate No. 1). With reference to demography and ethnography, the population of Cochin-China include over half a million active, courageous patriotic Khmers with the same traditions, customs, and way of life as their brothers in Cambodia, and speaking the same language. As for religion is concerned, the typically Khmer character of Cochin-China is apparent form the existence of several hundreds of Cambodian pagodas and numerous Pali schools, which in 1940 were distributed as follows:
|Province||Number of Pagodas||Number of Pali Schools|
The pagodas are at the same time repositories of Cambodia civilization, and spiritual and cultural centres where local Khmer observe the same form of Buddhism as that prevailing in Cambodia (see plate No. 2). As regards the legal aspects of the question, Cambodia’s sovereign rights over Cochin-China are still valid: Was there an occupation in the legal sense? The Annamite (Vietnamese) settlement cannot be so described since the area involved was not unclaimed land, but Cambodian territory, as has already been shown. Neither was there any acquisition by subjugation, for the Khmer State legitimate sovereign of those territories, never ceased to exist. Neither were the Annamites awarded the Cochin-China territories by a supranational decision, as no community of States (Conference, League of Nations, UNO) or international legal body ever took such action. Nor could prescription be invoked: indeed, a case based on such grounds would be absolutely worthless, considering that at all times Khmer monarchs have intimated, either by filing claims or by military action, their determination not to give up the territories occupied by the Annamites. In the year 1738, King Ang So took up arms against the Annamites in an attempt to expel them from Hatien. In 1776, King Ang Nuon taking advantage of a Cambodian uprising in Lower Cochin-China the same of the Tay Son revolt, seized Long-Ho (Vinglong) and Mesar (Mytho). In 1859, the same monarch ordered his troops to march on Meat Chrouk (Chaudoc). The fighting was still going on when the French landed in Cochin-China. As regards claims, they were frequently reiterated: King Ang To in 1645 and King Ang Chan in 1653 asserted the Khmer territorial rights. Besides the King Ang Duong who called for French intervention mainly with a view to regaining his Cochin-China provinces, King Norodom – on the occasion of his visit to Saigon in October, 1864 (one year after the conclusion of the treaty establishing the French Protectorate over Cambodia) – also urged the French authorities to ensure that the Cochin-China provinces were returned to Cambodia. Under the Japanese occupation, His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, faced with Vietnam’s intention to achieve unification by integrating Cochin-China into her territory, expressed definite reservations in his Declaration of 25th June, 1945, regarding Cambodia’s rights over Cochin-China, and suggested the setting up of a Joint Commission for the delimitation of the Khmer Vietnamese border. The Nam Bo Government (Ho Chi Minh’s Government) accepted in 1945 the principle of adjusting the frontier in favour of Cambodia. When France began to consider acceding to the demands of H.M. Bao Dai’s Government for the fusion of the three Ky (Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin-China) into a single State, H. M. Norodom Sihanouk, in a letter dated 20th January, 1948, urged the French High Commissioner in Indo-China to keep him informed of the pending negotiations between France and Vietnam. However, France, disregarding Cambodia’s concern in the matter, singed with H. M. Bao Dai the Along Bay Agreements of 1948 recognizing the principle of the union of the three Ky. On 18th June, 1948, H. M. Norodom Sihanouk protested by letter, and in 1949 he sent a Cambodian delegation to Paris to attend the debate in the French Parliament on the bill dealing with Cochin-China’s new status and accession to Viet-Nam, and to formulate protests against the integration of a Cambodian territory (Cochin-China) into Vietnam. Despite earnest representations by Cambodia, France unilaterally decided by an internal law of 4th June, 1949, to hand over to Vietnam the Cochin-China territories which she had acquired irregularly in the first place. When the Franco-Khmer Treaty was concluded on 8th November, 1949, H. M. the King of Cambodian expressly intimated that by signing the Treaty Cambodia did not relinquish in any way her claims on Cochin-China, and a reservation to that effect is included in the Treat itself. Those reservations were formally and explicitly renewed by the Cambodian delegations successively at the inter-State Conventions known as the Pau Conventions, at the Geneva Conference held in July, 1954, and at the conclusion of the Paris Agreement of 29th December, 1954. On the other hand, there was no regular transfer of the Cambodian territories in Cochin-China. No treaty or convention specifies such a transfer. NO comparison before can be drawn between Cochin-China (South Viet-Nam) and Louisiana which was made over to the United States by France 1803, or Alaska – sold by Russia to the United States in 1867 – or the Caroline Islands – transferred by Spain to Germany in 1899. Nor has there been by constitution of a military occupation, since Annam has waged no war of conquest against Cambodia, and taken up arms only when asked to do so by a Cambodian prince, either against another pretender to the throne or against the Siamese at the request of the rebels. Lastly, contrary to certain contentions, there has been no frontier delineation, finally marking off the Cambodian territories occupied by Annam. The decision taken on 9th July, 1870 and the arrangement concluded on 17th July, 1873, defining the frontier between Cochin-China and Cambodia were unilateral actions by France, which at that time directly assumed the administration of both Cohin-China as a colony, and Cambodia as a Protectorate. Those were administrative measures taken by a single Power in a readily understandable desire to increase its colonial empire. Cambodia, after asking the French Government for protection and entrusting it with the care of her external sovereignty, was in no position to protest against such a definition.