18 June 2007 By Sok Serei Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy On Monday, a group of 120 Khmer Kampuchea Krom people representing more than 400 families held a protest demonstration in Mort Chrouk province (An Giang province in Vietnamese) to demand from the local Vietnamese authority for a resolution in their land problems, and for the return of more than 500-hectare of lands confiscated from them. Following an unsuccessful demonstration, the demonstrators traveled by several cars from Motr Chrouk province to Prey Nokor city (Ho Chi Minh city) to hand over their demand petition to the Vietnamese authority. A source indicated that the demonstrators were not arrested by the Vietnamese authority, but a large number of Vietnamese cops forced the Khmer Krom people out of their cars and told them to travel to Prey Nokor by foot – a 300-kilometer trip that will take several days to reach by marching. Chau Soeun, a 55-year Khmer Krom from Nha Bang village, Motr Chrouk province, who is one of the 120 Khmer Krom representatives, told RFA over the phone: “We are protesting the land issue, the Vietnamese authority would not return back the land to the people, and now the people are protesting. But now, they do not even allow us to travel (to go to Prey Nokor) by car. We are walking under the hot sun.” Neang Sophea, a Khmer Krom woman from Motr Chrouk province discussed about the protest by saying: “The Viets do not allow our Khmer people to bring their protest to the higher authorities, what do the higher (Viet) authorities have to say?” Khmer Krom Monk Thach Pin, an aid to the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) in Cambodia, said that KKF representatives in the US will hand over a petition to Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet during his visit in the US, to demand for the release of 5 Khmer Krom monks from jail, and to oppose the violations of Khmer Krom human rights. On Monday, the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia cannot be contacted to obtain its reaction about the protest of Khmer Krom people in this land problem. A Khmer Krom man representing the protesters said the protesters count 120 people who have decided to stop all their work in order to travel to present their demands, even if the travel by foot for the more than 300-kilometer distance will take them several days. They are determined to endure the scorching sun, and one woman passed out and could not continue the march. In February of this year, the Vietnamese authority arrested 5 Khmer Krom monks and threw them in jail after they defrocked 16 Khmer Krom monks in total. The action taken by the Vietnamese authority was in response to Khmer Krom monks demand for their open freedom to practice their Cambodian religious belief, their Cambodian customs, and the right to celebrate Cambodian religious festivals. Cambodian government officials, including Heng Samrin (the former president of the Vietnamese-installed puppet regime), considered the Khmer Krom problem as an internal issue of Vietnam. Several petition pleas sent by Khmer Krom people to Heng Samrin asking him to broach this issue with Nguyen Phu Trong, the Vietnamese Assembly President who was then visiting Cambodia, were all dismissed by Heng Samrin. Vietnam promised that minority people can freely travel to the US embassy in Hanoi Several reports from various sources indicated that Vietnam is accused and condemned of human rights violations not only against Khmer Krom people, but also aginst all other minority people living in Vietnam, including the Montagnard people. In February 2007, the Vietnamese government promised to Ellen Sauerbrey, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, that minority people can freely travel to US embassy in Hanoi.