October 31, 2009

Khmer Krom Buddhists

Here’s an issue very dear to my heart, but I’ve very few minutes to write about it. From my Buddhist Channel feed, I saw a link to an article about Khmer language classes at a village in Vietnam. (You can check out the source link here.) For those who know little about Vietnam and Vietnamese history, the Khmer Krom are one of the persecuted Buddhist minorities of Vietnam. The region of South Vietnam was originally part of the Khmer empire, which the Vietnamese began annexing piecemeal from around 1700. (For comparison, the Vietnamese colonization of South Vietnam is along roughly the same timeline as European colonization of North America.) Cambodians still refer to Ho Chi Minh City (Sài Gòn) by its Khmer name: Prey Nokor. Ethnic Khmers constitute a significant minority in Vietnam, but their historical claims to the land are completely glossed over. The Khmer Krom still speak Khmer and still maintain Theravada Khmer temples—but they also face significant cultural, economic and political repression as non-Vietnamese. I’ve obliquely referred to the situation of Khmer Krom a couple times before (as in this post). More on this after I get back. It’s a Kathina weekend!

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