Vietnam speaks out after Cambodia plans to revoke documents from ethnic Vietnamese

By Nhu Tam   October 10, 2017 | 10:10 am GMT+7
Vietnam speaks out after Cambodia plans to revoke documents from ethnic Vietnamese
A Vietnamese woman walks near her house on the banks of the Mekong river in Phnom Penh in 2014. Photo by Reuters/Samrang Pring

About 70,000 individuals, mostly ethnic Vietnamese born in Cambodia, will be considered illegal immigrants despite having no other citizenship.

Vietnam has asked Cambodia to provide favorable conditions and guarantee legal rights for ethnic Vietnamese living in the country after Cambodian authorities said they will revoke “improperly” issued official documents from 70,000 individuals, mostly ethnic Vietnamese born in Cambodia.

“Vietnam and Cambodia have traditional neighborly relations," Le Thi Thu Hang, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement Monday.

"The ethnic Vietnamese community in Cambodia has had many contributions to the development of Cambodia and helped foster friendly ties between the two countries,” she said. 

Vietnam hopes Cambodia will “continue to provide favorable legal conditions and take appropriate measures to guarantee the legal and legitimate rights of ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia as outlined in a joint statement between the two countries and in accordance with Cambodian and international laws,” Hang said. 

“We hope that while people are waiting for their legal documents to be completed, they will be able to maintain a stable life and continue contributing to Cambodia's socio-economic development, while consolidating and strengthening traditional friendly relations and the comprehensive partnership between the two countries,” Hang added.

Cambodia's Interior Ministry last Wednesday discussed a plan to revoke official documents from 70,000 individuals, mostly ethnic Vietnamese born in Cambodia, according to The Phnompenh Post.

The documents are said to have been “improperly” issued and mistakenly confer citizenship on “immigrants”, the newspaper reported.

Sok Phal, head of Cambodia's Immigration Department, said the individuals will be labeled as illegal migrants, but added that they will not be forcibly removed. They should contact local authorities to see whether they are entitled to immigrant status due to the amount of time they have lived in Cambodia.

Many Vietnamese families live around Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. Most of them were born there after their grandfathers or fathers left southern Vietnam to seek refuge from the chaotic French colonization and the Vietnam War.