News / Asia

In Cambodia, Immigrant's Death Sparks Reform Debate

Cambodian rights workers are calling on the government to reform its immigration policies following the mob beating death of a Vietnamese man.
 
Activists say the death of Nguyen Van Chyen, who was killed in Phnom Penh following a traffic accident last month, underscores an underlying problem of racism in Cambodia.
 
Some analysts say immigration reform could help reduce tensions and dampen anti-Vietnamese sentiment.
 
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licado, told VOA's Khmer service he agrees that better immigration enforcement is key.
 
“In order to prevent problems, I think Cambodia has to strengthen law enforcement, especially in immigration law and laws on nationality,” he said. "In order to be naturalized as a Cambodian, a foreigner should be required to learn the Khmer language and understand Cambodia’s culture."
 
Chea Vannath, an independent analyst, told the Khmer service that the enforcement of immigration will reduce the problems.
 
“So, until Cambodia takes the actions, then we can control the people feeling," she said. "Meaning that [immigrants] come, no matter what nationality, they live in Cambodia legally."
 
One point of contention is the use of the Khmer word "yuon," which the crowd shouted ahead of Nguyen Van Chyen's beating death. Am Sam Ath said the word is customary, though not necessarily racist.
 
Not everyone agrees, with many saying the word is a slur for Vietnamese people.
 
The distinction is important, said Keat Chantharith, a spokesman for the national police and a ruling party supporter, because the word is used by leaders of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
 
He accuses Sam Rainsy's party of using the word to stoke anti-Vietnamese sentiment for political gain.
 
“In fact, immigration police and the national police are trying hard to fulfill their work in immigration,” he said. “They have pushed law enforcement, registration work and management work for immigrants.”
 
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Rescue Party, denies the allegations, saying the opposition is merely pushing for better immigration enforcement and does not endorse violence.
 
“The CPP has not taken action on the issues and has been indulgent,” he said.
 
Vietnamese troops ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and began a decade-long occupation of the country. There have been sporadic reports of violence against Vietnamese in Cambodia in the past two decades.
 
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Alan Smith from: Florida
March 20, 2014 11:05 AM
What happened to the khmer people is discreminated and executed by vietnamese for years and is still going on now. Why no one say anything about it? They killed the monks, innocent khmer krom people...

In Response

by: Jarrod Brown from: Hawai'i
March 21, 2014 3:16 PM
It seems you are being selective here, Alan, and giving a clear red herring fallacy. You are ignoring the anti-Vietnamese pogroms under Lon Nol in Phnom Penh, the execution of ethnic Vietnamese (and Chams) under the Khmer Rouge, and the Khmer Rouge incursions. You are also ignoring the Khmer Rouge incursions into Vietnam like the massacre of Ba Chuc. However, these incidents of violence and the present day discrimination faced by the Khmer Kron in Vietnam are irrelavent to whether ethnic Vietnamese born and raised in Cambodia should have citizenship or be subjected to violence in the present. A red herring is an informal fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. I think your comment is an example of this sort of informal fallacy.


by: Jarrod Brown from: Hawaii
March 20, 2014 1:40 AM
Nguyen Van Chyen he was not an immigrant. He was born in Cambodia and lived his entire life in Cambodia according to the interview given by his ethnic Khmer wife. Many ethnic Vietnamese have spent there entire life in Cambodia but are often seen as "immigrants" when in fact they are and should be considered Cambodian citizens.

In Response

by: Jarrod Brown from: Hawai'i
March 21, 2014 2:41 PM
Aren't the Jarai the same? It seems to me, Asher, you are confusing the Khmer ethnicity with the nation-state of Cambodia. Nguyen Van Chyen, like many ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia, was born there, spoke fluent Khmer and had a Khmer wife. Khmers are not the only people in Cambodia, and wishing to maintain one's cultural identity does not seem a reason to deny citizenship.

In Response

by: Asher Black from: Sydney
March 20, 2014 11:44 PM
Yes Jarrod, ethnic Vietnamese should be considered Cambodian citizens. Except they do not self-identify that way, they live in Vietnamese-dominated areas and send their children to Vietnamese-language schools. Why would they want to consider themselves Cambodian when the Vietnamese school curriculum teaches their youth that Cambodia is a poorer and more backward country?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid