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 Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs