The ethnic Vietnamese population in Cambodia find their citizenship at risk—sometimes, based on looks aloneby Sabina Lawreniuk / October 17, 2017 / Leave a comment
Amid the publication this week of a UN report that confirmed Myanmar security forces have forcibly driven out half a million of the nation’s Rohingya group came unsettling news from neighbouring Cambodia about plans to strip citizenship rights from its own ethnic Vietnamese minority. The Immigration Department there has announced that it will revoke documentation, including passports and national identification cards, from 70 000 individuals with ‘mistaken’ credentials.
Many of these are long-term residents, some of whom were born in Cambodia to families who also have been resident for decades past—as many as ‘four generations’, as one 55-year-old ethnic Vietnamese man, who was born in the capital of Phnom Penh, estimated. Many have never so much as visited Vietnam; they certainly do not speak the language and hold no citizenship there. Yet, just as Myanmar’s authorities have continued to claim about the Rohingya, the Cambodian government refers to them as ‘foreigners’ and ‘immigrants.’ Ratcheting hostility has made it clear that there is no longer a place for them in the Kingdom, despite having nowhere else to go.