Authorities in the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai arrested and subsequently freed a Khmer Krom ethnic youth and labor activist after he released a book on indigenous peoples’ rights. site, attracting condemnation from a Khmer Krom campaign group.
Yoeung Kaiy said in a post on his Facebook account after his release Wednesday morning that he was arrested a day earlier by “about 100 policemen” who raided his home with the alleged absence of an order and the confiscation of about 100 books detailing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, his mobile phone and his computer.
He said the police returned his cell phone and computer but kept the books and accused him of “publishing without permission” and “evading taxes”.
RFA’s Khmer language service was unable to reach Yoeung Kaiy on Wednesday for further comment but he told Khmer Krom News that despite his release he was still concerned about his security.
Yoeung Kaiy’s father told RFA on Tuesday that his son was arrested “for his active activity” and discriminated against by the Vietnamese authorities. He said that his son supported better working conditions for the Khmer Krom workers in Vietnam.
The Khmer Krom – a Khmer ethnic group living in a historic area in southeastern Cambodia, but currently controlled by Vietnam – face serious restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, association, and information. and travel in Vietnam, although recognized as one of the 53 ethnic minorities in the country, according to the US-based Human Rights Watch.
The Vietnamese government banned publications on the human rights of the Khmer Krom and strictly controlled the practice of Theravada Buddhism among minorities, which saw religion as the foundation of its own culture and national identity. their specialties.
‘Contrary to international obligations’
Venerable Son Yoeng Ratana, director of the information division of the rights group of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation, condemned the arrest of Yoeung Kaiy, which he said was an arrest warrant because Vietnamese authorities wanted to ban Khmer Krom from campaigning for autonomy. decided.
“This arrest is very unjust for the Khmer Krom because this young man simply disseminates the United Nations declaration of indigenous rights that Vietnam has recognized,” he said.
“The Vietnamese authorities have acted contrary to their international obligations. This shows that they are continuing to abuse the human rights of the Khmer Krom, which is an indigenous people ”.
Yoeung Kaiy recently launched a Facebook page to educate Khmer Krom workers about their labor rights. He also provided genuine advice to Khmer Krom regarding labor disputes and hoped to form unions for Khmer Krom factory workers.
Yoeung Kaiy told RFA in March that Khmer Krom workers in Vietnam are being forced to work overtime and refuse to take leave for Khmer national holidays such as the Khmer New Year and the Pchum Ben Festival.
Until now, the authorities of two of the 21 provinces claimed by Vietnam from Cambodia since the 17th century have allowed Khmer Krom workers to take a break during the Khmer New Year.
More recently, Yoeung Kaiy told RFA that he was regularly monitored by Vietnamese authorities asking him to stop campaigning and assault on behalf of the Khmer Krom when he refused.
“When we expressed our views, they threatened to imprison us,” he said.
At least three young Khmer Krom were recently fined up to US $ 300 for posting comments on Facebook about their native history.
Another Khmer Krom, To Hoang Chhuong, was fined US $ 300 for wearing a T-shirt commemorating the day of losing Khmer territory to Vietnam. Recently, he told RFA that he plans to publish an agency guide and distribute it free of charge to his ethnic minority members.
“I am disseminating information on indigenous peoples’ rights to raise awareness of the Khmer Krom about indigenous people’s laws,” he said.
The latest harassment comes after the March 29 raid by Vietnamese authorities into the printing house of a Khmer Krom man named Thach Sang, who created T-shirts claiming to be in favor of International Day. March 8 women of this ethnic minority group according to customer orders.
Mr. Thach Sang told RFA that he was seeking interference from NGOs and human rights groups against the government, whom he said had disrupted his business. he.
“This is a threat and they try to force me to ‘accept my mistakes,’ ‘he said, noting that the police asked him to print documents at the time of the raid, but not for them. allows him to read it, so he refuses. do like that.
Reported and translated by Samean Yun for RFA Khmer Language Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.