Vietnam Police State: Photo by Reuter
In the hopes of luring oversea Vietnamese to come back to visit the country and bring in dollars for the economy, the Vietnamese government had declared that it would no longer require Vietnamese living abroad to register with local police when they visit their hometown. Unfortunately, however, this policy which had supposedly been removed, is still being discriminately applied against former Vietnamese nationals of Khmer-Krom heritage when they visit their homeland.
Khmer-Krom people who are visiting their hometown from abroad constantly face these harassment by the local authorities and police as they are required to register and sit through probing questions about their associations and even personal life.
This shows that the Vietnamese government still uses the discrimination policies against Khmer-Krom people - not just the Khmer-Krom currently in Vietnam, but also the Khmer-Krom abroad. These actions are in total contradiction to the message that Vietnam tries to propagate in their invitation to people who used to live in Vietnam to come back and visit their homeland.
When the Khmer-Krom abroad arrive in their village, the first thing they have to worry about is to check in to the local police to register and report on how long they will stay and where they are going to visit. In some area, the Vietnamese police even ask the Khmer-Krom to fill out a form promising to not conduct any propaganda against the government. These are acts of intimidation and a form of threat against the Khmer-Krom people.
Usually these interviews can take up to thirty minutes to answer all the questions that the local police asked them. In some cases, the Vietnamese police even makes visit to the Khmer-Krom visitors at the house that they stayed at during their trip to their hometown. During their visiting, the police ask questions such as: What are you doing abroad? Do you have a good job? How much do you make a month? Do you involve with any Khmer-Krom abroad against the Vietnamese government? Do you know these Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation leaders? The Khmer-Krom people sees these interrogations as a violation of the privacy and their right to freedom of movement and associations.
Vietnam has been opening its door to the world, especially trying to ask the Vietnamese abroad to visit the country. That welcoming policy should apply to all people from Vietnam, not just the ethnic Vietnamese. If the Vietnamese abroad go home do not need to register with the local police, then the Khmer-Krom abroad should not have to either. The authority should not send police over to pretend they are giving a cordial visit to the Khmer-Krom visitors because it only shows that Vietnam still tries to use the discrimination policy against the Khmer-Krom, as they do not send any police to visit the Vietnamese visitors when they visit their family in Vietnam.
The Khmer-Krom abroad have their rights to be involved in any organization and political parties. If Vietnam issued visas for them to visit Vietnam, the Vietnamese authority have no right to send police to interrogate these Khmer-Krom visitors.
It is a time for Vietnam to show to the world that it is a country of Law - and that within this Law, all are equal before it, without account of race or ethnicity. The time for discrimination policies are over. The Khmer-Krom people deserves respect and and dignity just like any other Vietnamese people in their own homeland, as well as when visiting their homeland from abroad.