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Human Rights Monitor

Brief Historical Account Showing How the Cambodian Territories of Cochin-China Fell into the Hands of Viet Nam

Up to the end of World War II, French Indo-China consisted of five separate countries - Tonkin, Annam, Cochin-China, Laos, and Cambodia. The former three are mostly inhabited by a population commonly described as "Annamite"(nowadays Vietnamese) whose cultural background is linked with that of China, and they are quite distinct from Cambodia whose people are of Hindu culture. Descending from the Vietnamese, and indigenous tribe of Southern China, the Annamites had migrated southwards in great numbers and spread like a huge wave from the Red River to the Lower Mekong, and from the China Gate and the Gulf of Tonkin to the Pointe Camau and the Gulf of Siam. At the time the French established their position in Indo-China with the capture of Saigon in February 1859, part of the Cambodian territories had thus been occupied by the Annamites. This was the result of infiltration or abuse by Annamited of hospitality extended by Cambodian Kings. For example, after Tay Son uprising, the Srok of Preah Trapeang (Travinh had given asylum to the fugitive emperor, Gialong. There the latter reconstituted his arm, and was given military support by King Ang Eng, (reigning in Cambodia from 1779 to 1796). When he was back to the throne of Annam after the repression of the TAY SON uprising, Emperor Gialong "remembering", to use his own words, "the kind hospitality" he had enjoyed of the province of Preah Trapeang (Travinh) urged King ANG ENG to exempt this Srok from all levies, and its people from all feudal duties to which the king agreed as a gesture of friendship. Later GIALONG arbitrarily made the Srok into an Annamite colony. Similarly, in 1663 King Chey Chettha II kindly gave his consent to the opening of the Saigon-Bienhoa-Baria area to Annamite immigration. The Annamite prince Nguyen Sai Vuong requested the right for his people to till the land and to engage in trade subject to the payment of taxes. King Chey Chettha agreed. He had married princes, a daughter of Ngyen Sai Vuong, and according to a tradition of the Khmer dynasty the Queen Dowager and the Viceroy were endowed with some provinces of the Empire as a personal lifetime appanage. The provinces were never excluded from the Crown possessions, but the Titular enjoyed certain rights in respect of the administration of the territory under his rule (taxation, police, etc.). In 1853, King Ang Duong alarmed by Annamite expansion and by a possible alliance of Siam and Annam for the sharing of Cambodia, secretly sent to the French Consul in Singapore a letter addressed to Emperor Napolean III in which he requested from France a certain measure of protection. The letter was not acknowledged, and the King decided to write another letter to propose the conclusion of a Franco-Cambodia alliance and to appeal to the French Emperor not accept certain territories mentioned in the letter, should the Annamites offer them to France, as such territories belonged to Cambodia. In the nineteenth century, France for various reasons was bent on a policy of expansion, and taking advantage of the attitude of friendship and confidence adopted by the Cambodian Sovereign, chose to intervene in Cochin-China. When Saigon was besieged in 1859, Cambodian troops supported the French forces by entering simultaneously the provinces of Meat Chrouk(Chaudoc), Kramuon Sar(Rachgia), Srok Treang (Soctrang), and Preah Trapeang (Travinh). Under the treaty of peace and friendship concluded with France in Saigon on 5th June, 1862, Annam accepted - in addition to clauses relating to freedom of worship in the Roman Catholic faith in her territory, the undertaking not surrender any part of her territory to anyone without consulting France, the opening of certain ports to Franco-Spanish trade, and the payment of war compensation - a clause of particular interest for Cambodian under which Annam transferred to France three Cambodia provinces occupied by Annamites - Bienhoa, Giadinh, and Mytho. The latter clause is obviously not valid, since Annam thereby assigned to a third part territories, which did not belong to her. A few year later, in 1867, on the grounds that Annam had broken the Saigon Treaty, Admiral Lagrandiere, acting upon instructions from the France Government, occupied three more Cambodian provinces. Long-Ho (Vinh-Long), Meat Chrouk (Chaudoc) and Peam (Hatien), and the whole of Western Cochin-China. The French occupation Kas Tral (Phuquoc Island), another Cambodian possession, completed their process - formal recognized by the Frenco-Annamite treaty of 1874 - by which the whole of Cochin-China (the present South Vietnam) became a French Colony. The colonial status of Cochin-China was maintained until 1949 when under a French Act passed on 4th of June that year the whole of Cochin-China was transferred to Viet-Nam, in spite of solemn remonstrations by the Khmer Government, and notwithstanding the fact that France, through her authorized representatives, had recognized the validity of the Cambodian claims.

The Transfer of Cochin China to Viet Nam

On May 21, 1949, the French National Assembly met in Paris to decide over the fate of Cochin China. The decision was to place this territory under Vietnamese control with certain rights for the Khmer Krom were enumerated for the Vietnamese administration to follow. Despite of strong oppositions from the Khmer delegation at the meeting, the Assembly still chose to ignore them. (A Cambodian delegation composed of E.H. Son Sann- Chhean Veam- Thoun Ouk &Son Voeunsai Has been sent to France to protest against that transfer and follow the debate concerning that de-cision). With this situation, a group of French Representatives led by Mr. Gaston Deferre (Mr. Juglas, Abelin, Bourgnes, Maunoury, Duveau, Dumas, Rene, Pleven and Mr.Temple) presented a motion demanding to the French Government of solve preliminary all pending questions between the Protectorate of Cambodia and the colony of Cochin China before to yield that colony to Vietnam. On JUNE 4th, 1949, the president Vincent Auriol (French) signed the law granted Cochin China to the Bao Dai (Vietnam). Since then, The Khmer Krom people have been legally separated from the motherland Cambodia. They are now considered as Khmer in Vietnam, and as Vietnamese in Cambodia. Khmer Krom had been called or renamed by the Vietnamese as " Vietnamese of Khmer origin or Viet Goc Mien or Viet Goc Khmer". JUNE 4th, the losing day of Khmer Krom land.

French Domination

In 1856 king Ang Doung secretly contacted the French Emperor Napoleon III through a French Missionary (Monseigneur Miche), he list the Khmer regions in Annamite hands: the DONAI province was lost 200 years ago but Saigon, Long Ho, Phsar Dek, Mesar, Preah Trapeang, Bassac, Mot Chrouk, Kramounsar,Teuk khmao,Peam, Koh Tral, Tralach. He added: "by the chance, if Annamite Would offer any of these lands to yours Majesty, I beg you not to accept them because its belong to Cambodia". In 1858,Napoleon III ordered Admiral Doudard De La Grandiere to follow this request. In1864 king Norodom went to see Grandiere again in Saigon, La Grandiere promise as requet. However, In 1867 Khmer movement (supported by Vietnamese) demanded Cochin China independence, So La Grandiere broken his promised with king Norodom. During their French domination from 1867-1949, the Khmer Krom people had some relief from struggles against the Vietnamese. The French administration, however, widely used Vietnamese as interpreters, translators, policemen, secret agents, and military officers, while using Khmer Krom as laborers only. Social injustice, wrongful accusations, misunderstandings, and sufferings were a part of the Khmer Krom's daily lives. No Khmer Krom intellectuals, lawyers, doctors, engineers, generals Or any professionals were produced in Kampuchea Krom during this period. At the same time, the Vietnamese were treated well and got encouragement to go to school to better their lives. On March 9,1945, Japanese took over of French Indochina (Cambodia, Lao, Tonkin, Annam And Cochin China). On April 17,1945 Vietnam declared Independence led by Prime Minister Tran Trong Kim. Cochin China was controlled by Japan and under administated of Minoda. Japan brought Son NgocThanh back to Cambodia and made him Foreign Minister (June 1,1945).On June 18,1945, Bao Dai declared that he wanted to unity the Tonkin ,Annam and Cochin China under the government of Hue. Son Ngoc Thanh was sent to Saigon to talk with Colonel Hayashi (Japanese Political Department) to keep Cochin China belongs to Cambodia. At the same time (the document cited no dated ) the Khmer Krom of Cochin China and Vietnamese fired each other through out the country. On August 8,1945, Japan ceded Cochin China to Annam. August 14, Son Ngoc Thanh named Prime Minister. On August 14,Japanese surrended the allies forces without condition due to atomic dropped on Hiroshima and Naagashaki by the United States. On October 16,Son Ngoc Thanh was arrested and then brought him to Poitier region of France until October. 29,1951. In December 1945 and in January 1946, the Vietminh (Vietnamese League Independence or Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh led by Ho Chi Minh) persecuted thousands of Khmer Krom. (This event Annam called CAP YOUN means Killed Vietnamese, but the reality was "Khmer Krom were killed by Vietnamese.") In the villages of Chongmisar thmey (Baso), Chongmisar chas, Kampong Touk, Thlok, Phno Rang, Kampong Toteung etc…of Preah Trapeang (Travinh) province, at least, there were 500 men were put into pillories and threw into the Kampong Toteung river. In the villages of Dam Kinh, Dam Gioi, Ho Phong, Gia Rai, Kah Mahat and Phno Andeth of Teuk Khmao, Pol Leav and Khleang provinces, the Khmer Krom leaders and intellectuals were called up on to gathering themselves in to the Japanese rice granaries. As the granaries were filled with the Khmer Krom, the doors were ordered to be closed and petroleum was poured upon them. Finally, Annam set Khmer on fire alive. (For more information, please ask Mr. SON SE who is eye evidence of the event when he was young. Presently, he is living in the Philadelphia city of Pennsylvania state) (find out and listen to the song named Chongruk Srauv Anussa THE GRANARIES MEMO).

Sena Mon's and Sena Tea's Battle (1860)

In 1860, under the command of the 2 bothers, Sena Mon and Sena Tea, the Khmer Krom in Srok Khleang once again stood up to the Vietnamese at Lum Pou Year (Thanh Fu). Sena Tea was wounded and died. His body was buried in the Kveng Krobel ( Hung Oh) Buddhist temple in Poll Leave (ABC Lieu) province .

Sena Sous's Battle (1859)

In 1859, the Khmer Krom of the province of Srok Khleang, under command of Sena Sous, stood up to the Vietnamese in the battles of Mahatup and Chong Ballang. During three years of fighting the Khmer Krom won most military engagements in the areas surrounding the province. Unfortunately A Vietnamese undercover agent, belonging to other ethnic group, had infiltrated his rank joined the Khmer force and became Sena Suos's most trusted chief. Later, Sena Sous was poisoned by the man (his name was unknown).
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