The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community along with the Khmer Youth Alliance for Democracy are seeking to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the absorption of Kampuchea Krom with a religious ceremony involving 1,949 monks at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh on June 4.
Thach Setha, executive director of the Khmer Krom Community and chairman of the ceremony committee, on May 6 issued a letter noting that June 4 remembers the lives of Khmer Kampuchea Krom that were lost while defending their territory and freedom, especially the loss of the 21 formerly-Cambodian provinces to Vietnam.
Khoeun Virath, spokesman of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, said that the upcoming celebration this year is expected to involve 2,000 participants.
“The purpose of celebrating this day every year is to commemorate the Khmer ancestors, especially Oknha Son Kuy, and other Khmer Krom people who sacrificed their lives to protect the Khmer territory. The event also seeks to raise awareness among Khmer people for them to know and remember the painful history when French colonists had transferred Khmer Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam,” Mr Virath said.
The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community also plans to submit a letter of notice regarding the celebrations to the City Hall administration.
Mr Virath asks that City Hall would allow the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community to celebrate the day at Freedom Park as planned. City Hall previously has always denied celebrations in public spaces in Phnom Penh for fear of affecting public order.
City Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey could not be reached for comment.
Nou Veasna, a youth participant who has consistently attended the anniversary on June 4 in recent years, said that he is happy to be part of the event and show the world the Kampuchea Krom history.
“I hope that all Khmer youths unite and join this event to show Khmer Krom unity. Khmer Loeu, Khmer Krom and Khmer Kandal are all Khmer,” Mr Veasna said.
The Khmer Kampuchea Krom area, that France relinquished control of to Vietnam in 1949, covers nearly 70,000 square kilometers. The area is reportedly home to more than 14 million people, including 567 Buddhist monasteries where more than 20,000 Cambodian monks are living.