Slanderous allegations about the Khmer's life in the south-western region

Several hostile forces recently claimed that Vietnam abused human rights of ethnic Khmer people in the south-western region. They even fabricated stories saying that the Vietnamese Government was implementing a policy of discrimination against the Khmer, that the Khmer could not enjoy the right to religious freedom and that they were subject to detention.

With such slanderous allegations, these forces distorted the current life of most Khmer living in the southern region in an attempt to undermine national unity and territorial integrity.

It is a fact that reactionary forces have for many years made use of the daily life of the Khmer in the south-western region as well as other religious and ethnic issues as an excuse to cause instability between localities in the region and undermine the bloc of great national unity. They hoped that in so doing they would succeed in seeing an independent Southern region break away from Vietnam. Obviously, they went all out to defy the long-lasting history of the southern region. It is worth mentioning that Vietnam’s sovereignty over the region has long been established in international treaties, including the 1954 Geneva Agreement and the 1973 Paris Agreement. History shows that many Vietnamese administrations have successively done their best to defend sovereignty over this stretch of land. Despite devastating wars, the southern region has kept developing in harmony with other parts of the country. Vietnam’s unity and territorial integrity has been acknowledged and respected by the international community. 

Ironically, hostile forces against Vietnam intended to make up stories on human rights issues related to the Khmer. As the facts speak for themselves, how can they deny the historical existence of the Khmer in the south-western region as part and parcel of the large family of ethnic Vietnamese groups. In reality the Khmer have, together with other ethnic groups, made significant contributions to the cause of national construction and development.

Embarking on the policy of equality, unity and mutual assistance amongst ethnic groups, the Party, State and Government of Vietnam do not allow any individuals or organisations to act discriminately against the Khmer and undermine the bloc of great national unity. All fundamental rights of ethnic groups, including those of the Khmer, relating to the use of language and letters, preservation of national cultural identity and development of traditional customs and practices are respected and guaranteed under the Constitution.

It is as clear as daylight that more than 1.2 million Khmer people in the south-western region are happily joining efforts to develop the economy and stabilise their lives. The Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee recently issued directive 68/CT-TW on work in areas inhabited by the Khmer. Over the past five years, the State has invested more than VND1 trillion in building infrastructure facilities for more than 200 communes inhabited by the Khmer. As a result, 108 Khmer pagodas have been built and refurbished, more than 60,000 poor Khmer households have been provided with land to build houses, more than 100,000 households have been granted loans worth VND150 billion to develop production, and more than 80 percent of the households have had audio-visual equipment, and learned the Khmer language. Provinces densely inhabited by the Khmer such as Tra Vinh and Soc Trang have newspapers available in the Khmer language. Every year, traditional Khmer festivals are held with pomp and circumstance.

Like other ethnic groups elsewhere, a segment of the Khmer community still lead a hard life in far-flung areas of the south-western region due to incomplete infrastructure construction and geographical distance. This is also a common occurrence in developing countries. The most important thing is that the Party, State and Government of Vietnam have made every effort to narrow the development gap between regions.

Judging from the real situation in the country, all slanderous allegations of hostile forces about Vietnam’s violations of human rights and religious freedom will cut no ice with the public.