Cambodia must provide citizenship to Khmer Krom refugees: human rights group
The Cambodian government should begin to immediately provide citizenship to Khmer Krom arriving from Vietnam where they claim they are discriminated against, said the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR).
Khmer Krom live mostly in the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam, but share the Khmer ethnicity with the majority of Cambodia’s population. Many Khmer Krom arrive in Cambodia claiming that they face discrimination by the Vietnamese government, which has resulted in their marginalization.
Following months of extensive research, CCHR found that there was a contradiction between the Royal Government of Cambodia’s public confirmation that the Khmer Krom, are Cambodian citizens, and the practical difficulties faced by the Khmer Krom who try to access the benefits of their Cambodian citizenship by applying for citizenship identity cards which are required to unlock the rights and benefits that are attached to citizenship/nationality such as employment, education, and property rights land rights.
The plight of the Khmer Krom was highlighted again recently when in June 2011 it was reported that seven Khmer Krom asylum seekers were deported back to Cambodia after they had crossed the border into Thailand in an attempt to seek resettlement. One of the deportees stated that they had made the decision to cross the border because the Cambodian government had yet to award them legal nationality paperwork and they were afraid they would be arrested and deported to Vietnam.
The seven Khmer Krom were part of a larger group that left Vietnam in 2008 fearing persecution, seeking asylum in Thailand. The central and overriding recommendation by CCHR is for the RGC to put an immediate end to the uncertain situation that faces Khmer Krom who arrive in Cambodia by confirming their Khmer citizenship/nationality through the creation of a coherent framework that is specifically designed to facilitate Khmer Krom applications for ID cards.
Photo: Young Khmer Krom copying Khmer text from a book to a blackboard. Courtesy of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights