Wednesday, March 14, 2007 By Ung Chansophea Cambodge Soir Translated from French by Tola Ek A Khmer Krom representative in Takeo is charged by the court, meanwhile 48 people who came from Vietnam and who are under the charge of the representative fear that they may be sent back. Seun Savang, the Takeo representative of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Friendship association (KKKF), is charged by the court, he is accused by the local authority of manipulating a letter authorizing about 40 Khmer Krom people to settle temporarily in a rice field in Kirivong district, Takeo province. The legal charge was brought when the 48 people from Kampuchea Krom who arrived in Cambodia from Vietnam a few weeks earlier, started denouncing the pressures exerted by the authority to force them to go back to Vietnam. Seun Savang who took care of the 48 Khmer Krom people, did not reply to the Takeo court summon on Thursday, instead he fled to Phnom Penh to hide. “I am not scared, I did not commit any wrongdoing. I am only defending poor Khmer Krom people. But, I fled because I don’t trust the justice. If it were to be independent, I wouldn’t have anything to fear about,” he said. The KKKF association representative is accused of using a letter from the Preah Bat Choan [Chum] commune authority to bring in 6 extra people in addition to the 42 Khmer Krom people, for the rice harvest. Now they are 48, Long Sareth, the commune chief, argued. And Seun Savang keeps on telling the media that these Khmer Krom people are refugees, chased by the Vietnamese authority. In fact, they are entering Cambodia simply to look for work in the rice field, to harvest, just like every year,” he said while stressing that these “false information” finally ended up causing a reinforcement of the border controls on the Vietnamese side against the Khmer Krom people. Long Sareth said the majority of the 48 Khmer people from Vietnam who have settled in his commune, would in fact be Seun Savang’s relatives. The statement of the commune chief was categorically rejected by one of the women in the Khmer Krom people group who wanted to remain anonymous. She said that she was stopped with the group of 48 for several hours at the border on the Vietnamese side and also on the Cambodian side. She fears returning back to Vietnam where the authority suspects that the Khmer Krom people left for political reason. Recently, the [Cambodian] authority asked them to affix their thumbprints on a document. “We do not know why, but we are scared that they are trying to kick us back to Vietnam. Each night, we see Vietnamese soldiers prowling around our tents. Nobody dares get out from this area, for fear for being killed,” the woman said. “In any case, after the harvest, they should go back home,” the commune chief said. He claims that the thumbprints were collected only to count the number of field laborers.