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Vietnam slams ethnic minority Khmer Krom for anti-Vietnam rally

PHNOM PENH, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam on Tuesday strongly condemned ethnic minority Khmer Krom for holding an anti-Vietnam rally after a Vietnamese diplomat said the former Kampuchea Krom provinces belonged to Vietnam long before France's official transfer of the land in 1949.

"Vietnam vehemently condemns any fabrication, distortion, slander, legally-groundless opposition by any organization or individual against the unity and territorial integrity of Vietnam, " the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh said in a news statement.

"Vietnam urges that countries and international organizations encourage citizens of all countries to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Vietnam, in compliance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations."

The statement said Vietnam considered this move as an act of intervention into the sovereignty and internal affairs of Vietnam, going contrary to the laws of Cambodia, which stipulates "Cambodia does not allow any force or individual to use its territory to counter any other country".

"Southern Vietnam (Kampuchea Krom) is an integral part of the territory of Vietnam, in compliance with international law, fully recognized by the United Nations, international organizations and all countries in the world," said the statement.

The statement came after more than 100 Khmer Krom monks and supporters tried to hold a protest in front of the Vietnamese Embassy on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to demand an apology from Trung Van Thong, a spokesman for the embassy, who told local media last month that the former Kampuchea Krom provinces belonged to Vietnam long before France's official transfer of the land in 1949.

"France did not cut a territory of Khmer Kampuchea Krom and give it to Vietnam, but Kampuchea Krom had been a Vietnamese territory for a very long time, and the news of (Cambodia) losing the territory has no basis or evidence," he said.

Tuesday's rally was organized by the Federation of Cambodian Intellectuals and Students and the International Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation.

"Our protest is to demand apology from Trung Van Thong for his slandered remarks," Mao Pises, president of the Federation of Cambodian Intellectuals and Students, told reporters at the venue.

"This is just the start if the Vietnamese Embassy spokesman does not publicly apologize for his remarks within three months, we will organize a bigger protest in the future."

Cambodian security forces, armed with batons, dispersed the protesters, leaving about five people slightly injured, Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said after the event.

Authorities said the dispersal was made to maintain social security and public order since the group staged protests illegally.

According to the history, French protectorate officially turned over the former Kampuchea Krom, once Cambodian territory, to neighboring Vietnam on June 4, 1949.

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