Thousands of Cambodians descended on the small village of Vihear Suor (Kandal Province) on October 4 to cheer on the annual water buffalo race that marks the end of the 15-day festival for the dead (Pchum Ben), the most important Cambodian religious event.
The race, that has very ancient roots, is organised for the entertainment of the spirits who have come to Earth during the Pchum Ben and is also be followed by wrestling and khmer boxe matches.
First used as spies by the CIA during the Vietnam War and later targeted for elimination by Pol Pot’s genocidal regime, Khmer Krom are still victims of numerous human rights violations today. The ones living in Vietnam are being acculturated by Hanoi´s intimidating policies, while others have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in the Mekong Delta and pushed to Cambodia where they are not recognized as full citizens. With no place on either side of the border, the Khmer Krom have become the “nowhere people.”
This is their story.
I started this project in July 2012, when I spent a week as a tourist visiting some of the Khmer Krom communities and Pagodas in the Mekong Delta. At that point, my aim was just to discover and understand a bit better their ways of life, as well as to visit some of Vietnam’s most iconic sites.
As my first contact with the Khmer Krom communities, my encounter with the reality of their lives was only brief and did not leave me enough time to properly investigate the matter, especially how the restrictions applied by the Vietnamese Government affect the Khmer Krom’s life itineraries.
Therefore, I am planning to go back to the area with the support of several international organisations and NGOs..
It is, of course, an ongoing project.
[button align=”center” link=”http://www.fotovisura.com/user/thomascristofoletti/view/khmer-krom-the-nowhere-people” margin=”20″]See the full project proposal on FotoVisura.com[/button]