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Vietnamese-Cambodian peace is a Necessity


Written by Nguyen CongBang (VNPP)

For thousands of years under harsh rule by Chinese invasions, the Vietnamese never escaped from their native country. However at the end of the so-called “Vietnam War”, millions of people risked their lives seeking freedom. It is widely believed that hundreds of thousands people perished in the open water while escaping Vietnam. Fortunately some people who traveled by boat were able to relocate in several free countries around the world.  At least another hundreds of thousands of people have moved to Cambodia for their own safety and survival. These people are not living in a stable present or with the assurance of a certain future.

The people of Vietnam and Cambodia have been victimized by along history of political crisis in their own countries, and between the two countries as well.

Laos and Cambodia share the same West border of Vietnam, but only Cambodian has a rough relationship with Vietnam. It is not only caused by the change of border between two countries, but the political climate affects the region. People from both countries have made serious accusations. The main problems, though, are clearly not from the people but the policies of both current governments.

For the last half of century, people of both countries have suffered from wars generated by Communist expansion.  World and regional politics have caused several problems for people in restoration of their countries as well as the relationship between the two.

According to the Vietnamese government’s recent figures, there were over one million Khmer Krom people in Vietnam. It is believed at least the same population of Vietnamese origin now is living in Cambodia. This should be considered a harmonious fact that bonds the two countries together. The main population of Cambodian and Vietnamese people should embrace this reality as a chance for common peace and developments instead of continued fighting with each other.

The cold war has ended and all countries involved have put aside their differences to rebuild trust and relationships for the better interests of all. While globalization is greatly adapted by several countries around the world, regionalization may be suitable for countries of South-East Asia, at least for the “trio” of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. No matter what differences are still present, we all need to overcome the obstacles challenging our ways of developing our countries. Wars divided us, so peace should unite us!

In the quest for peace and unity, some remaining matters need to be recognized and resolved:

In Vietnam, millions of Khmer Krom – Vietnamese should be treated equally in all aspects of life as citizens of Vietnam. Moreover this group should be formally recognized as an indigenous people and receive respect according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007. As Indigenous People, Khmer Krom – Vietnamese should have their history, culture and human rights fully protected. The history of Khmer Krom has been merged into Vietnam history as well as its culture. Respecting Khmer Krom as indigenous people is necessary to enhance Vietnam image to the world community. It is simply right and a must.

On the other hand, the Vietnamese whom were born in Cambodia should be granted Cambodian Citizenship if requested by the eligible applicants. They should also be allowed to live legally as ‘Cambodian citizens by birth’. They should be treated equally by the law, especially by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. For those who have been legally living in Cambodia should have their lawful immigration rights respected and permitted to live, work and access to education as well as civil rights as allowed by law. Cambodian government should provide lawful immigration document(s) to eligible applicants and protect them as required by law. The Vietnamese origins living in Cambodia should have their human rights legally offered and respected by law as well as Cambodian people.

For “political refugees” who came to Cambodia fearing for their human rights which were oppressed by their own countries, they should also be treated as political asylum seekers, even if they have not yet filed for their political asylum. Their presence should be legally accepted and treated as political refugees until they are able to accept by a third country or return volunteeringly to their native countries. Those who are not recognized as political refugees would be treated as immigrants according to formal agreements between Cambodia and Vietnam.

For those who are willing to return to Vietnam, the government of Cambodia should also work with the Vietnamese government to resettle those willing to return home, with United Nations’ cooperation and supervision.

The conflicts between Vietnamese and Cambodian people should be peacefully resolved by creating more dialogue and mutual collaboration in promoting education, social welfare, and human rights.

Most of all conflicts should be recognized and peacefully resolved instead of using it as apolitical agenda to continue discord.

We are all victims of wars and hatred. Therefore, should not harmony and peace be considered a better future for us?

By Nguyen CongBang