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PRESS RELEASE: 14 December 2011 - Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monk Defrocked By Vietnam Authority

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Open Letter to the President of Vietnam – Mr. Truong Tan Sang on the International Human Rights Day – December 10, 2011

Embassy of Vietnam Att.: Mr. Truong Tan Sang, President of Vietnam 1233 20th St NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 Dear Mr. President: Today, people around the globe are celebrating the International Human Rights Day to pay tribute to all human rights defenders and commemorate the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 63 years ago. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate you as the President of Vietnam. Hopefully, with your new leadership, the people in Vietnam, especially the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples, would have a fundamental freedom as stated in the UDHR. This year, millions of people around the world - from Tunis to Madrid, from Cairo to New York – have organized peaceful demonstration movements to demand for their rights and change. As you know, “Ở đâu có áp bức, ở đó có đấu tranh - Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance” and with the current human rights violations against the human rights activists in Vietnam, I believe that the peaceful demonstrations to demand for basic rights and change would continue to happen everywhere in Vietnam. I am sure that you would not want to see that happen. I would like to bring up the following human rights violations against our people to your attention: On April 22, 2010, Mrs. Tran Thi Chau was arrested and later sentenced by the Court of Tra Vinh for two and half years in prison. Mrs. Tran Thi Chau had a land-grab dispute with the local authority at the Nhi Truong market in Nhi Truong village, Cau Ngang district, Tra Vinh province. The authority arrested her on her way to Wedding and then accused her with an allege crime to take over her land. On March 31, 2011, Mr. Chau Hen was sentenced for two years in prison by the Court of Tri Ton district, An Giang province. Mr. Chau Hen used to organize peaceful demonstrations to demand returning the Khmer-Krom’s confiscated farmlands in Tri Ton district in 2007 and 2008. Because of leading the demonstrations to exercise his rights, he was accused of public disturbance and face injustice imprisonment. On February 8, 2007, more than two hundred Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks organized a peaceful demonstration to demand for their rights to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism. Unfortunately, that peaceful protest was oppressed. Nineteen Buddhist monks was arrested and defrocked. Five Buddhist monks were sentenced to imprison. One of the Buddhist monks who were imprisoned and now live in Sweden is from Tra Set temple in Vinh Hai village, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province. Because of that reason, this temple is treated as the “enemy” of the government. Last week, the local authority, led by Mr. QUÁCH VŨ XUÂN of Vinh Hai village framed a case to arrest Venerable Ly Sol with allege crime of raping a Khmer-Krom lady, Mrs. DANH THỊ TÚ, at 8pm in his temple, when all the monks in the temple did not sleep yet. According to Mrs. DANH THỊ TÚ, the local police forced her to finger printed on the complaint letter that was already written by the local authority to file complaint against Venerable Ly Sol so the authority has a reason to arrest and defrock him. This is an unjust action that is used to smear the good repute of our religion, especially to make people to distrust the Buddhist monks at Tra Set temple. Two weeks ago, our organization received information regarding to the land rights violation against the CheAng Krom temple at Ta On commune, Chau Lang village, Tri Ton district, An Giang province. The local authority built a school on the temple’s land without the consent of the Abbot, Buddhist monks and the committee members of this temple. The representatives of the temple ask the local government to pay the compensation for taking the temple’s land. The local authority refused to pay compensation. Near that school, there is an old Pali school that is torn out. The authority wants the temple to destroy it to make spaces for their school, but the representatives of the temple refused. They are worrying that one day the authority may use forces to destroy the Pali school and take temple’s land. When a Human Rights violation happens in Vietnam, the Khmer-Krom people have nowhere to ask for help. They have to contact our organization asking for help to raise their issue to the world to seek justice for them. In celebrating the International Human Rights Day, I would like to ask for your assistance to: • Release Mrs. Tran Thi Chau and Mr. Chau Hen without any condition because they just exercise their basic rights to demand returning his confiscated lands. • Allow our Buddhist monks to form an independent Theravada Buddhist organization to promote our rich and unique history, religion and culture. • Allow our people to have freedom of press, freedom of expression, and freedom of belief, especially freedom from FEAR. Also allow the freedom to organize the associations that are already stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (and even in Vietnam’s constitution). • Allow our people to freely defend themselves in front of the Vietnamese judicial system. Vietnam should stop accusing our people for “disturbing the Vietnamese society” and imprisoning them because of they just stand up to demand for their fundamental rights or just asking to return their confiscated lands. • Allow human rights organizations to operating in Vietnam to help protecting and promoting the basic rights of the people in Vietnam. Yours sincerely, Signed Thach Ngoc Thach KKF President

Remembering Jack Layton - A Canada's Official Opposition Leader

1950-2011
The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am, Monday August 22, 2011, peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. To remember the legacy of Mr. Layton, the Chairman of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation delivered his speech to the Khmer-Krom community members at the Centennial Park in Hamilton, Canada. Respected Venerable Monks, Friends and my fellow Khmer-Krom: Thank you for allowing me to speak to a large crowd at the Annual Picnic of Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Association at Centennial Park in Hamilton. I want to share with you my thoughts about an individual, who some of you might not have known because today Canada is mourning of his death and celebrating of his life. Equally important, I want to talk about him because the Khmer-Krom can draw some lessons from his example. His name is the Honourable Jack Layton, the leader of New Democratic Party of Canada. Most Canadian fondly call him Jack. He was a career politician who tirelessly fought for social justice, equality, and well-being of the "little" people. Even though his endeavors faced many failures but he never gave up. His endurance, which driven by "Hope and Optimism", has taken his party from 13 MPs in 2004 to 103 MPs in 2011 — 59 from Quebec — and making Layton leader of the Official Opposition. In his testament, Mr. Jack Layton wrote "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world". What Khmer-Krom, especially Khmer-Krom leaders, can learn from Jack Layton’s life long services to his country? Let me derive some of his lines: Politically, we must be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. Believe in grassroots power and work together as a team and solidarity. The cause is much bigger than any one leader. Personally, we should treat each other with love and not to despise those who don’t share our ideas. My friends, As you can see, Jack Layton’s life philosophy is very close to those of Khmer-Krom’s bramhma-vihara (4 Sublimes Abodes). They are metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic), and upekkha (equanimity). Let us say thank you to Jack Layton for reminding us these values. Let us pray for Jack Layton rest in peace. Thank you, To Kim Thong Chairman of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

Happy New Year Wishes from KKF's President

Friday, December 31, 2010 Decision Time and Challenge of Confidence The year 2010 is ending tonight and tomorrow we are going to face another day and a new year. The turning of the New Year and new decade sheds light and promises new hopes for future. I would like to use this opportunity to wish all our compatriots Luck, Happiness, Good health and a Prosperous New Year. This coming decade will be challenging for our people inland to determine their future. It is time to enter history and re-examine our past so that we may become more true to ourselves and our identity. It is time to study our present environment and examine our interests and objectives. We shall act as indomitably and resolutely as other peoples. KKF has worked and travelled endless hours to appeal and guide our people through the International law, Human Rights, peace and non-violent action. And today, people have come to understand, appreciate and agree with KKF’s non violent approach. One of the basic duties of the KKF is to ensure the safety of our peoples, to protect their rights and the five basic fundamental freedoms which include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom for environment and freedom from fear. As a people, we have demonstrated considerable resilience, fortitude and patience during the past year. The Khmer-Krom people are a relatively peaceful people. People enjoy having a greater sense of security and freedom. Freedom to express themselves, to participate, to pursue their goals and dreams, to enjoy their rights and freedoms and to do this within Kampuchea Krom. KKF has demonstrated vision, leadership and commitment to meet all of our targets. Now, the major task is for us to improve our levels of productivity, our innovativeness, our creativity and our resolve to build a better movement. As we look forward a New Year and a beginning, we are resolved and determined to stand above oppression that continues to overshadow our people. We appeal to the more responsible parts in each of us that will required if we are to face the immense obstacles that presently confront us. On December 10, 11, 12, 2010, we created an outline our plans so our people can continue to support KKF’s optimism for a better year. We sincerely believe that the plans will succeed if we continue to work together as one. This is absolutely essential if we are to achieve the targets that we set ourselves and for our homeland. The journey will not be easy but together we will surmount any challenges that we arises from this day forth. At this present, we require a disciplined resolve to taking the right action to build a sustainable movement. Most importantly, we must continue to pursue non violent practices. We must continue to look inward to find and gather our strengths, our capabilities and our resources to become more self sufficient and productive. We must collectively put our shoulders to the main task of building our future. It is important that every one of us at every level whether we are within the borders of our homeland, Cambodia or abroad know where we stand on these important issues – We need to know. In this coming New Year and new decade, we ask you to tell us your thoughts, your opinions, and your feelings on the issues that matter the most to you and our people My wish for the New Year and new decade is we will stand together, we agree to work together, we focus together, we write together, we decide together and we move forward together for a better Kampuchea Krom. Yours sincerely, Thach Ngoc Thach KKF President
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