Three Khmer Kampuchea Krom associations are planning to host a religious ceremony in Phnom Penh next month to mark the anniversary of the cession of disputed ethnic Khmer Krom land to Vietnam in 1949.
Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Krom Community and chairman of the ceremony committee, said yesterday that the ceremony will draw 200 participants, including 1,949 Buddhist monks, to commemorate the year of the cession.
“We want the general public to know, hear and remember the painful history of the Khmer people on that day France transferred a large part of Khmer territory to Vietnam.” he said. “We also would like to express our gratitude to our Cambodian heroes who sacrificed their lives for this country.”
Mr Setha said that the opening ceremony should be held in public and added that that the government should make June 4 as a new national holiday.
“We have always asked to mark this day in public but the municipal authorities have never allowed us to do so,” he said. “So it’s very difficult for us to organise a religious ceremony with 1,949 monks.”
Tim Thy, a Phnom Penh resident who attended past events, said that the government should designate June 4 as a holiday aimed to boost a sense of nationalism.
“If I have the time, I will also join this year’s anniversary,” he said.
On Monday, three organisations, including the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, Khmer Kampuchea Krom from Human Rights and Development Association and Khmer Youth Alliance for Democracy, submitted a letter informing City Hall of their plans.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey could not be reached for comment yesterday. In June 1949, France relinquished control of land considered part of Cambodia to Vietnam. About 70,000 square kilometres passed through foreign hands.