Overseas members of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom community gathered in Paris on Saturday to mark the day of a loss of their territory to Vietnam and to call for more freedoms there.
Kampuchea Krom, or Lower Kampuchea, was portioned to Vietnam by French authorities in June 1949. Advocates for the Khmer ethnic group now living in the Mekong Delta region say they want more religious freedoms under the Vietnamese.
“We will force the Vietnamese government to have a clear administration and to make sure that Khmer Krom have a self governance,” Thach Ngoc Thach, president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation, told VOA Khmer by phone from Paris.
A statement issued by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization said that for decades, indigenous people have had the desire to address their status and continued maltreatment by settler societies in their own homelands.
UNPO Secretary-General Marino Busdachin said in a speech Saturday that France had contributed Khmer Krom “inequality” due to “the lack of awareness or lack of acknowledgement of the position of the Khmer Krom internationally.”
Vietnamese officials were not immediately available for comment.
Bun Phalla, a participant from France, expressed optimism for the group’s struggle.
“It is like drops of water filling a pot,” she told VOA Khmer by phone. “One day it will be full. I hope that in the future we will get our land back.”