WASHINGTON DC —
Vietnamese-Cambodians say the killing of an ethnic Vietnamese man in Phnom Penh last week is a reflection of continued racism that has been exacerbated in recent months.
Nguyen Van Chyen, 28, was killed after a traffic accident escalated into an altercation between him and his friends and a group of Cambodians. One suspect was arrested following the attack.
Sem Chi, president of the Association of Khmer Vietnamese in the Kingdom of Cambodia, told VOA Khmer this week his organization will seek an investigation over racial discrimination in the attack. The victim was Cambodian, born in Pursat province, of Vietnamese ancestry, Sem Chi said.
Kouch Chamroen, governor of Mean Chey district, where the attack took place, said politicians and political rhetoric against Vietnamese has increased since the July election, leading to the incident.
On the day of the traffic accident, someone yelled an ethnic slur and said that a Vietnamese was beating a Khmer, he said. “That’s why it led to violence until he was killed.”
Anti-Vietnamese rhetoric is common among supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, where fears of Vietnamese encroachment and illegal immigration are widespread.
Rights workers say that the incident should be investigated to see what part racial discrimination played in the violence.
“Civil society groups also do not want our country to have racial discrimination,” said Chan Soveth, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc rights group. “We want everybody, regardless of race, to respect the law. The authorities must thoroughly investigate why there was a fight that lasted until the loss of life.”
Police say they are continuing to investigation the incident.