Photographer's Note


There are 7 villages in Chong Kneas area, and one of them belongs to a Vietnamese community (where this photo has been shot) with homes, stores, even little factories, but they are ready to sail in a moment if ethnic violence threatens. They are considered as foreigners living in a permanent conflict with local Khmer residents. The Vietnamese in particular face social exclusion and need equitable treatment with regards to resettlement, stakeholder participation, grievance resolution mechanisms. As everything else here, the misery of these “foreigners” is floating, day and night, during high water and low water, unsolved, becoming a great despair without light at end of the tunnel.


According to Jean Delvert, Vietnamese presence in Cambodia began in 19 century, when Annam people emerged as strong regional conquerors. Vietnamese population was estimated about 250,000 as in 1956. Vietnamese minority is sharply reduced after the victory of Pol Pot regime in 1975, following which a large number of Vietnamese were deported back to Vietnam. After the fall of Khmer Rouge regime, Vietnamese minorities began to increase again. It is difficult now to provide accurate number of permanent Vietnamese living in Cambodia, as most of the Vietnamese are migratory. Vietnamese minority are normally settled along the Mekong, Tonle Sap River, and Tonle Sap Lake. Around Tonle Sap Lake, the Vietnamese are more concentrated in Chong Kneas, Kbal Toal, Kampong Loung, Chnok Trou, Kampong Chhnang, Phat Sanday, and Peam Bang. In Kbal Toal, Vietnamese minority consists of 74% of the population and professional fishing and aquaculture remain their traditional occupation. A small portion of Vietnamese are also engaged in other important jobs in the city. During the French colony, the majority of government functionaries were comprised of Vietnamese. Today, Vietnamese are recognized as very skillful and efficient workers in construction, machinery, furniture and the like.

With the tragic exception of the Khmer Rouge period, Cambodian society has traditionally been tolerant towards most ethnic and religious minorities. There is however a significant degree of prejudice regarding the Vietnamese, which was reflected in the particular viciousness of their persecution under the Khmer Rouge. The nature of conflict is stemming from the distinctive culture, the stereotype feeling and distrustful perception about Vietnamese by Khmer, due probably to the historical contradictory relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam since 19 century. Unlike Siam, Vietnamese culture is difficult to be absorbed by Khmer. Vietnamese are treated by Khmer as foreigners. For this reason, Vietnamese presence in Cambodia is often brought to public attention by politicians for political gain.

(To be continued here)


Robbienight, Glint, Glint, fijiphil, Yuanclarkson, hoangthenhiem, NgocSon has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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