Friday, May 11, 2007 By Ung Chansophea, Cambodge Soir Unofficial translation from French by Tola Ek On Thursday, five Khmer Krom monks in Vietnam were sentenced to jail after being accused of creating “social unrest,” the Association of Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks said. This would make the first jail sentencing on Khmer Krom monks in Vietnam. On Thursday, five Khmer Krom monks in Vietnam were sentenced to jail for creating “social unrest,” two Khmer Krom associations in Phnom Penh indicated. According to Yoeung Sin, President of the Association of Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks, this would be the first jail sentence handed down by Vietnam on Khmer Krom monks. In the past, several Khmer Krom monks were secretly jailed, but they were never judged or sentenced. Two of the monks were sentenced to 4-year jail, two others of 3-year jail, and the last one of 1-year jail. All the monks are from Khleang (Soc Trang in Vietnamese) and Kramuon Sar (Kien Giang) provinces. Eleven other Khmer Krom monks were sentenced to 1.6 million dong fine ($100). Thirty six other monks who felt threatened, are currently trying to flee to Cambodia in order to avoid arrest in Vietnam. The 12 Khmer Krom associations in Cambodia are mobilizing their forces, by distributing soon a joint declaration. “These monks were sentenced for creating ‘social unrest,’ however, this is only an excuse. There is no detail available about the alleged activities. This is illegal, furthermore, these Khmer Krom monks were arrested without any arrest warrant,” Ang Chanrith, President of the Khmer Krom Human Rights Organization (KKHRO), denounced. “These jail sentences are unfair. These monks only demand for religious freedom and security for their compatriots,” Yoeung Sin added. If their declaration will not change the situation, the Khmer Krom associations plan to demonstrate in Phnom Penh. Nevertheless, they are taking their precautions because they noted that when they demonstrate in Cambodia, the oppression of Khmer Krom people in Vietnam is also multiplying. Since February, 16 monks were sentenced to jail or fines, and they were defrocked one by one by the Vietnamese authorities. The Khmer Krom monks are accused of holding marches to denounce the seizure of rice fields belonging to Khmer Krom people and giving them to Vietnamese. The marches were also held to denounce the violations of Khmer Krom religious freedom, Yoeung Sin said. “Monks took their vows so that they can learn Pali and Khmer in the pagoda, but the Vietnamese authorities force them to also learn about the history of the hero Ho Chi Minh, and to learn about (French) colonization as well as communism. With all these class requirements, only a few hours are dedicated to learning Khmer and Pali during each week. Most of all, Khmer Krom monks believe that these topics (Ho Chi Minh and communism) should not be taught in a pagoda,” Yoeung Sin explained. He added that the Vietnamese soldiers usually set up surveillance during religious ceremonies.