21 April 2007 By Moeung Tum – Radio Free Asia – Translated from Khmer by Socheata While about 60 Khmer Krom monks held a peaceful sit-in in front of the Vietnamese embassy on Phnom Penh on 20 April, and while these monks were brutally beaten by the Cambodian police which injured some of the monks, in the US, France, Canada and Australia, several hundreds of Khmer Krom natives living in these countries also held demonstrations on Friday to voice the same demands as those of Khmer Krom monks in Cambodia. Almost 400 US representatives of Khmer Krom people, Montagnard people, and other ethnic minorities in Vietnam (Lao and Hmong) from several US states have gathered in Washington DC to peacefully demonstrate in the front of the Vietnamese government. In the US demonstration, Khmer Krom demonstrators raised several banners displaying the photos of the victims who died from human rights violations perpetrated by the Vietnamese authority. The demonstrators held flags representing the ethnic minorities living in Vietnam: Khmer Krom, Montaganard, Lao, and Hmong, some of the demonstrators were also dressed up in their native costumes. Monk Thach Berong, a member of the steering committee of the Khmer Krom Federation (KKF), and deputy director of the Khmer Krom Monks Community, in charge of international religious affairs, told RFA in front of the Vietnamese embassy: “The main goal that led to Khmer Krom Monks and Khmer Krom people gathering in Washington DC, in front of the Vietnamese embassy, is to demand from the Vietnamese to examine and release about 11 Khmer Krom monks who were defrocked in Kampuchea Krom, and 3 other Khmer Krom monks who are currently being jailed at an undisclosed location. The Vietnamese authority is currently issuing threats in all pagodas in the provinces of Khleang, Motr Chrouk, and Preah Trapeang, that they will defrock other monks, this is a violation of Buddhist religious freedom. The communist Vietnamese regime has recently set up a monk movement called “the united love of the nation” in order to create confusion among Buddhist followers, and they defrocked monks and forced them to join the army, forced them to raise animals, forced them to work in the fields, forced them to pay tribute to the pictures of [communist leader] Ho Chi Minh who they said is the representative of Buddhism in Kampuchea Krom for the last few thousand years. In fact, they are setting up a brainwashing movement and they are forming a monk order to serve the communist Hanoi and Vietnamese ideology. Those who are brainwashed are then sent in to destroy our religion, and they are doing whatever they can to make Khmer Krom Buddhists to stop believing in Buddhism in Kampuchea Krom.” The organizers of the demonstration then proceeded to list the states where the demonstrators came from: “Now, I would like to read out the list of States [where Khmer Krom people are represented from:] Massachusetts, Las Vegas (Nevada), Colorado, California, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), New Jersey, Washington State, Virginia, Washington DC, Florida, Maine, Georgia. We are gathering today to demand freedom from the communist Vietnamese regime which is oppressing our monks….” Kok Ksor, President of the Montagnard Foundation in the USA, added: “…Khmer Krom is also a population of Vietnam, they live under one government [as the Vietnamese people], therefore, the Vietnamese authority must protect Khmer Kampuchea Krom on the same footing as it protects the Vietnamese people. Why does the Vietnamese government consider us differently from the Vietnamese people?” RFA made several attempts to contact the Vietnamese embassy in the US, however, we cannot reach it today. Following the demonstration in front of the Vietnamese embassy, the Khmer Krom, Montagnard, Lao and Hmong demonstrators brought their demonstrations to a location next to the Capitol to demand the US government to help resolve this issue. In Australia, about 200 Khmer Krom people coming from several major states, held a demonstration in Canberra starting from 9:30 AM until late afternoon on Friday also. The demonstration was held in front of the Vietnamese, US, Swedish, Thai, Germany, and Dutch embassies, and also in front of the Australian Parliament building. The demonstrators distributed leaflets to the international community to ask for help to apply pressure on Vietnam so that it would put to an end the violation of Khmer Krom rights in Kampuchea Krom. This report was provided by Thach Chanto, President of KKF Australia. In Canada, about 100 Khmer Krom people coming from major cities and provinces, have gathered in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Ottawa on Friday also, to hold a demonstration from noon to 2:00 PM. Thach Dara, President of the KKF branch in Canada, told RFA by phone that KKF Canada appealed to the international community to help Khmer Krom. In France, Khmer Krom people will hold a demonstration on Sunday 22 April, starting at 2:00 PM at The Trocadero Esplanade, near the Eiffel Tower, Paris. Thach Vien, President of KKF Europe, told RFA by phone that KKF chose Sunday to hold the demonstration because it provides a good opportunity for all Khmer Krom people living in France to gather. According to Thach Vien, 250 demonstrators are planned to participate in the demonstration. Due to lack of space in front of the Vietnamese embassy, the demonstration will be held at the Trocadero Esplanade instead. The lands of Kampuchea Krom consist of 21 provinces which were handed by the colonialist French to Bao Dai, the Vietnamese emperor, on 15 June 1949. The handing over of a large portion of Cambodia by France was never recognized by the King of the Khmer people who are the rightful owners of these lands.