Sun, Jun 05, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Cambodians mourn lost territory with Buddhist ceremony

AFP , PHNOM PENH

More than 2,000 Cambodians marked the 56th anniversary of the loss of a large territory called Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam with a Buddhist ceremony in Phnom Pehn yesterday.

Princess Norodom Sisowath Pongneary Monipong presided over the ceremony near the royal palace, where people offered colorful flowers, fruit, noodles and rice to 1,949 saffron-robed monks -- the number representing the year of agreement signed by France.

Kampuchea Krom, or Lower Cambodia, is home to about 12 million ethnic Khmers. The region was incorporated into what is now Vietnam during the French colonial era.

"We celebrate this ceremony to remember our lost territory, which was handed to Vietnam, and we also remember the people dead in the cause of defending us," Senator Thach Sitha said.

The issue last made world headlines in the late 1970s when Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge declared its aim to reclaim Kampuchea Krom and launched cross-border incursions. This led to the Christmas 1978 invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese and the ousting of the Khmer Rouge.

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