Kampuchea Krom and the Khmer Rouge

Kampuchea Krom and the Khmer Rouge

Kampuchea Krom denotes the parts of Vietnam that not only formerly were part of Cambodia, but still have a high population of Khmer people. They are in turn known as Khmer Krom (people) and have played a significant role in the history of Cambodia.

This has included all conflicts that the country has been in, with some of the most important pro and anti communists being part of the Khmer Krom.

Which areas are part of Kampuchea Krom?

Former areas of Cambodia that are now part of Vietnam and contain a large number of Khmer people include the following;

Sóc Trăng (362,029 people, constituting 30.18% of the province’s population and 27.43% of all Khmer in Vietnam),

Trà Vinh (318,231 people, constituting 31.53% of the province’s population and 24.11% of all Khmer in Vietnam),

Kiên Giang (211,282 people, constituting 12.26% of the province’s population and 16.01% of all Khmer in Vietnam),

An Giang (75,878 people),

Bạc Liêu (73,968 people),

Bình Dương (65,233 people),

Hồ Chí Minh City (50,422 people),

Cà Mau (26,110 people),

Đồng Nai (23,560 people),

Vĩnh Long (22,630 people)

In total there are almost 1.4 million Khmer in Vietnam, which makes up 1.3% of the total population of the country.

Is there a Kampuchea Krom independence movement?

Some leading Khmer Krom and Cambodian nationalists have been firm advocates of merging the area with wider Cambodia. This was a core tenet of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and was what led to the 1979 invasion of Cambodia.

Another key movement has been the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation who have fought for recognition of the minority since the 1980’s, but have also been accused of being a mere US anti-communist front. They are a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

Another key figure who fought against the Vietnamese was Khmer nationalist and head of the Khmer Serai AKA the Khmer Blue Son Ngoc Thanh. He was to die in South Vietnam following the reunification of Vietnam, along with the soldiers that hadn’t joined MONATIO.

Famous Khmer Krom

Considering the intense hatred and paranoia of all things Vietnamese Angkar and the Khmer Rouge in general were filled with Kampuchea Krom, at least at the higher levels.

Another irony here was that those imprisoned at S-21 could bot use being Kampuchea Krom as an excuse during their confessions;

“Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor”

In fact they were so feared within the ranks of the Khmer Rouge that the following phrase was often used “Khmer bodies with Vietnamese minds”.

Leading Khmer Rouge figures included;

Son Ngoc Minh – Founder of the Kampuchean Peoples Revolutionary Party

Tou Sanmouth – Founder of the Workers Party of Kampuchea

Ieng Sary – Brother Number 3 of the Khmer Rouge

Son Sen – Brother 89 of the Khmer Rouge

Kampuchea Krom Today

Generally the Kampuchea Krom exist comfortably as part of the Socialist Republic Vietnam, with old Khmer Krom now being joined by Khmer emigrated to Vietnam. This is particularly true in places such Ha Tien and Phu Quoc.

The current ruling Cambodian Peoples Party respects this area as part of Vietnam, with only fringe ultra-nationalist groups such as The Candlelight Party, or foreign groups trying to stop racial tensions.