FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pennsauken, NJ, USA, 2 April 2010 On April 1, 2010, a Khmer-Krom Buddhist monk, Venerable Thach Vesna flying from Bangkok to Prey Nokor (renamed Ho Chi Minh) city was denied entry into the country. A student monk studying in Thailand and the holder of a Cambodian passport, Venerable Thach Vesna was planning to celebrate the Cambodian New Year with his family in Preah Trapeang (renamed Tra Vinh) province. At 9a.m, Venerable Thach Vesna arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport and handed his Cambodian passport to a Vietnamese immigration officer. The Vietnamese immigration officer denied his entry stating that it was of “National Security Concern”. When Venerable Thach Vesna asked them to explain what they meant by “National Security Concern”, the Vietnamese immigration officers could not give a legitimate answer. Instead, they tried to force him to fly back to Bangkok. When the Vietnamese immigration officers realised that Venerable Thach Vesna refused to go back to Bangkok, they summoned thirty police officers to monitor him. Three of them closely followed Venerable Thach Vesna even when he went to use the Restroom. They denied his attempts to contact the Cambodian Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City. With officers surrounding and monitoring his movements, Venerable Thach Vesna could not go and find food for his once a day meal. According to Theravada Buddhism, the Buddhist monks cannot eat food after 12p.m., thus he did not eat anything since the 12p.m. the previous day. When the plan to convince Venerable Thach to go back Bangkok failed, the officers tried to recruit Venerable Thach Vesna as a secret agent to monitor the activities of the Khmer-Krom living abroad. Venerable Thach Vesna refused to cooperate with them. With the last flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok leaving at 6p.m. and Venerable Thach Vesna refusing to leave, the Vietnamese polices resorted to the use of physical force to remove him from the immigration area to the gate of the airplane. Vietnam has been elected as the President of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for 2010. Vietnam should set an example by respecting the visa exemption agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam to allow their citizens to freely travel between their two countries. Venerable Thach Vesna is merely a Khmer-Krom Buddhist monk, who practices the non-violence principles of Buddhism and carries a legitimate Cambodian passport. He has no criminal record; all he wanted to do was visit his family during the Cambodian New Year. In this regards, we would like to urge the Vietnamese government to stop using tactics and excuses of “National Security Concern” to stop Khmer-Krom living abroad from visiting their families in their ancestral land of Kampuchea-Krom. Especially, if the Vietnamese authorities do not have a valid excuse to deny Venerable Thach Vesna’s right to visit his family.