The Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia has dismissed a protest that drew more than 200 locals on Wednesday as an illegal and groundless argument.
The Cambodian protesters held cardboard signs and shouted slogans on Monivong boulevard in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, accusing Vietnam of allegedly stealing Cambodian territory.
They claimed that Kampuchea Krom, which is now a southwest part of Vietnam, is still a part of Cambodia though the colonial French (who once ruled both countries) gave the area to Vietnam.
A statement by the embassy sent to Thanh Nien News said the demonstration fully violated local laws.
“Vietnam strongly denies any and all slanderous distortions made by any individuals or organizations against Vietnam’s unification and overall sovereignty,” the statement said.
The protest attempted to "interfere in Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty and internal affairs,” it said.
Tran Van Thong, first counselor of the Vietnam embassy, told Thanh Nien News that the protest was not approved by the Cambodian government, so the embassy is not obliged to consider the demonstrators' demands.
“Southern Vietnam is our legal territory as recognized by the UN, international organizations, and every country in the world, including ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] member states.”
The protesters said they represented Khmer Kampuchea-Krom, an organization representing the indigenous Khmer peoples living in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, advocating for human rights, religious freedom and self determination.
The Phom Penh Post, a major daily in Cambodia, said several demonstrators and at least one security guard were injured during clashes with the Cambodian police, who cleared the area that morning.
Le Hai Binh, the Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman, said at a press briefing Thursday that Vietnam would ask Cambodia take effective measures to quell the protest.