The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee has appealed to all Khmer Krom to keep quiet and not join the new Cambodia National Rescue Movement.
In a letter issued on Tuesday, the committee’s executive director Kim Vanchheng said the movement was illegal and could incite violence, and asked them not to join.
His appeal was made after former opposition leader Sam Rainsy launched the CNRM in the United States, saying the movement intended to help the dissolved CNRP join the upcoming general election and unite opposition figures.
During the launch, Mr Rainsy issued an action plan for the movement. He urged people to protest against the government, called on armed forces to not shoot protesters and appealed to the international community to cut aid.
Mr Vanchheng said the illegitimate movement would cause violence and make the country fall into war and instability.
“Brothers and sisters, please do not believe the incitement and lying words of the treasonous politician Sam Rainsy,” he said.
He added that Mr Rainsy always promised the Khmer Krom people that border issues with Vietnam would be reviewed and territories such as Koh Tral, also known as Phu Quoc island, would be reclaimed.
Mr Vanchheng said these territorial claims were false and misleading and made Khmer Krom people suffer in the past.
CNRM members include Mr Rainsy; his wife Saumura Tioulong; and two former deputy presidents of the CNRP, Eng Chhay Eang and Mu Sochua.
However, the CNRM has created a possible rift between Mr Rainsy and former party leader Kem Sokha, jailed on treason charges, who announced through his lawyer that he would not join or support any new movement.
Mr Sokha’s daughter Kem Samathida appealed to the public and to former members of the CNRP to stop defaming her father after he said he would not join the CNRM.
The government has warned it could take legal action against Mr Rainsy and others involved in the movement’s launch.
Son Chum Chuon, senior programme director at the Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association, also agreed the movement was illegal because it had not registered with the ministry and was not recognised by the government.
“We will not prevent anyone from joining the protest or movement, but they should consider whether it is legitimate,” he said, adding that some Khmer Krom people had been members of the CNRP and would likely be interested in the new movement.
“We just want to warn all Kampuchea Krom people, please consider your rights and the legal ramifications before participating in any movement,” he said.