Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Son Son's Testimony: The Transfer of Cochin-China (Kampuchea-Krom) to the Emperor Bao Dai of Vietnam

In 1863, His Majesty NORODOM, the King of Cambodia requested the France to protect our Country against the infringements of our neighbors. The France established the protectorate over Cambodia, but made our territory of Kampuchea-Krom its colony of Cochin-China.

In 1949, without consulting Cambodia, the French Government MRP, Mr. Costes-Floret decided to cede the Cochin-China to the Emperor Bao Dai, hoping by this transfer to preserve the essential privileges of the French in Indo-China. It is a remark of the Imperatrice Nam Phuong, a catholic as the MRP.

Under the order of His Majesty King NORODOM Sihanouk, a Cambodian Delegation (composed of LL. EE Chhean Vam, Thonn Ouk, Sonn Voeunsai and myself) were sent to the France to protest against this transfer, and to monitor the debates concerning this decision.

The debates started at the Assembly of the French Union at Verseilles. The President of this Assembly was Her Highness, the Princess Ping Peang Yukanthor, and the principal Cambodian members were Mr. Pan Yung, Sim Var, Thonn Ouk, Sok Chhong. Thanks to the President and to all Cambodian Members, the Assembly of the French Union voted an unfavorable opinion to this bill of transfer.

The French National Assembly sent the bill that presented by Government MRP, relating to this transfer, to the Council of the Republic, where we found the effective defenders in the person of Mr. Marc Rucart, a theosophist, and among the Gaullistes (of which Mr. Jacques Soustelle) all of the Friends of Her Highness Ping Peang Yukanthor.

The Council of the Republic was presided by S.E. Monerville, who had shown much sympathy to our cause, and enabled us to occupy the official platform to closely monitor all debates.

The Council of the Republic returned the bill to the French National Assembly for a second talk.

Our Delegation worked a lot: we shared the works to approach various political parties. Against our attempt, Mr. Frederic Dupont who refused assisting to his group. The Socialists initially promised us to vote against the bill to transfer of Cochin-China, but they had been solicited strongly by the Government MRP. Mr. Gaston Deferre, to comfort us, had presented a motion bearing his name, demanding the French Government to take care ahead of times all the pending questions between the Protectorate of Cambodia and the Colony of Cochin-China, before transfering this colony to Vietnam.

The Deferre motion was voted for by a large majority of the French National Assembly.

Among the pending questions, there is the border between the two Countries. The Vinh-Te Canal was manually labored and digged by the mixture of Khmer-Vietnamese, must be the natural border, and not as many kilometers in inside of our territory as it was traced. There has been also the incorporation of several Khmer villages into the territory of Cochin-China because the French plantations located in the Cochin-China having the needs of manual labors... It will be necessary for us to consult with all the files of the French Ministry of Colonies to raise all the discussion with the French administrators of Protectorate who defend our interests, and that of Cochin-China who had the tendency to support the French colony at our expenses.

There is also the question of the status of the Khmer minority in Cochin-China (Khmer Krom). The French Government recognized the Khmer of Cochin-China:

1) the right to practice their Buddhist religion of Small Vehicle, aside from such right has been recognized by the Vietnamese for Chauvay Son Kuy who accepted to be put to death in exchange of this right,

2) the right of celebrate all of the Khmer Festivals,

3) the right to raise the flag of national Khmer,

4) the right to teach and to learn the Khmer language,

5) the right to have a Khmer governor in the districts and in the provinces of Khmer majority,

6) the right to have the Khmer deputies at the Assembly of the Cochin-China etc...

However there are now in Kampuchea-Krom 683 Vat (Buddhist temples), 40,000 Khmer-Krom Monks and a Khmer population approaching of 8 millions people.

By accepting the transfer of Cochin-China, Vietnam must also accept all obligations from the France: in particular the recognition of our borders, and the status of Khmer Kampuchea-Krom which has been recognized by the France ...

Our Buddhist Monks, as well as our Compatriots of Kampuchea-Krom, are subjected to inhumane treatements. Such as our Monks are disrobed, imprisonned if not killed, if they show too attaching to the Mother Country, to defense the Khmer heart, our traditions, our patriotism.

Associations of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom can provide the details of these inhumane treatments.

In the negotiations with Vietnam, it is very desirable to raise all these questions concerning the national interest, and the rights of our Compatriots of Kampuchea-Krom.
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