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Cambodia's ethnic Khmer Krom ends 3-day protest against Vietnamese diplomat

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Some 500 ethnic minority Khmer Krom monks and activists concluded Wednesday their three-day protest against a Vietnamese diplomat, who reportedly said that South Vietnam, or former Kampuchea Krom provinces, belonged to Vietnam prior to France's official transfer of the land in 1949.

The protest ended without any violence even though protesters had defied the Phnom Penh Municipality's ban on marching. On the first day, protesters marched through streets in the city to deliver petitions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies of ASEAN countries.

On the second day, they rallied and burned a Vietnamese flag outside the Vietnamese Embassy, which was fortified by anti-riot police and heavy steel barricades.

For the third day, they marched from the Freedom Park towards the Vietnamese Embassy and spent the whole day to gather outside the strictly guarded embassy.

The protesters tried to press for a retraction of Vietnamese spokesman Trung Van Thong's comments in June that South Vietnam, or former Kampuchea Krom provinces, belonged to Vietnam long before colonial France's official transfer of the land in 1949.

Thach Sitha, president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association and the protest's figurehead, said the demonstrations aimed to demand an apology from the spokesman and urged him to accept the" true history" of the former Kampuchea Krom provinces. "So far, the Vietnamese Embassy still ignores our demand,"he said at the end of the protest."We will call another protest in the future against the spokesman."

According to the history, French protectorate officially turned over the former Kampuchea Krom, once Cambodian territory, to neighboring Vietnam on June 4, 1949.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia last month issued a statement condemning the protest and considering the move an act of intervention into the sovereignty and internal affairs of Vietnam.

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