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KKF Delegation and Three KK Buddhist Monks Visits Washington, DC, on May 12-13, 2010.

By Lenny Thach, HR Advocacy “The Three Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks want to see Vietnamese government respect the human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist Education in Kampuchea-Krom (Southern Vietnam today)”. - Former Defrocked Monks Picture (left to right): Ven. Tim Sakhorn, Ven. Danh Tol, Ven. Kim Muol Today, members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and three KK Buddhist Monks had a busy schedule at the Nation’s Capital, Washington DC. The first meeting was with Scott Busby, the National Security Council official in charge of human rights and refugee issues held in the Wilson Room of the White House Conference Center. Next stop was to the U.S State Department where they met with Peter J. Kovach, Director Office of International Religious Freedom and Sara Colm from Human Rights Watch. A meeting with UNHCR Officers and U.S Congressman Staff gave the KKF Delegations the opportunity to raise the issues of the Khmer Krom refugees, human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist education in Vietnam. The meeting with the US Congress was a collective effort by KKF to try to improve human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist education in Vietnam and Cambodia. The three KK Buddhist monks, Kim Moul, Tim Sakhorn and Danh Tol gave a brief report on Vietnam over the past few years, reaffirming that the situation back home remains very fragile. They expressed their concerns about recent events in Mekong Delta River, the human rights situation and other issues such as religions freedom and Buddhist Education. The KKF’s delegation and three KK Buddhist monks were happy that they were able to conduct talks with the US Officers without fear or restrictions, unlike in Vietnam. The monks were able to make US Officers understand and appreciate how Vietnam treats its indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta. They spoke about the Vietnam government’s discrimination against the Khmer Krom people and Buddhist monks and how human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist education structure remains restricted and controlled. Mr. Thach Thach, KKF President also took the opportunity to raise issues such as the ongoing land-rights disputes and the exploitation of peasants’ land by the Vietnam Authority in Ang Giang Province for concessions to private interests Kampuchea-Krom in 1978. He also spoke about the lack of the freedom of expression, assembly and Buddhist education. In his meeting with the US Officers, Mr. Thach Thach, reaffirmed and encouraged Vietnam government to engage in constructive dialogue with the Khmer Krom people back home and abroad at meetings such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples last April. He encouraged Vietnam to open transparency in order to make both side living in peace and improve the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including land rights, freedom of expression, Buddhist education and religious freedom.

Future Work by the Indigenous Youth Caucus

Intervention to the Ninth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2010 Youth Caucus Statement - April 26, 2010 Agenda Item 7: Future work of the Permanent Forum, including issues of the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues
Pi-i Debby Lin an Indigenous Taiwanese - Amis speaks on behalf of the Indigenous Youth Caucus Nagi’ho, ci Lapic Kalay ko ngangan no mako. Good Morning, Mister Chairperson. Thank you for making Youth Caucus part of the planning for the future work of the Permanent Forum, we would like to hereby stress on couple emerging issues pertinent to indigenous youths. Economic sovereignty is the key for the overall sovereignty of our peoples. However, as the result of industrialization, the transition to a cash economy and urbanization, we are becoming more susceptible to the fluctuation of global economy. The recent global economic crisis had worsened the poverty condition and livelihoods of indigenous families. With financial difficulties, indigenous youth workers are forced to work longer hours to sustain income. This had threatened our right to education and equal opportunities. By educating the youth, we can grow stronger as an indigenous community. Education is the fundamental rights for indigenous youths, however, not all indigenous youths have equal access to education designed for our need, in our language, and reflects our world views. We shall put priority on revitalizing our language and our culture. Furthermore, we shall fight for sustainable economic growth and improved social condition in order to enhance education results. Mister Chairperson, climate change is another pressing threat which endangers the livelihood of our youths and families. Indigenous peoples are more vulnerable to environmental pollution and climate change effects. With increased exposure to nature disasters, our people are becoming climate victims. We are forced to relocation and dispossession of our lands. We lost the right and ownership over our customary land and resources, and culture is uprooted from our traditional territories. Urbanization and migration also weaken the sense of community and our culture is being assimilated. In order for sustainable development of our peoples, it is critical for us to ensure legal recognition of ownership and control over our customary land and resources. Mister Chairperson, it has also come to our attention that some of our indigenous brothers and sisters whose bloodlines are mixed due to colonization do not have equal access to the Permanent Forum. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reaffirms we, indigenous peoples, should be free from discrimination of any kind when exercising our rights. Indigenous youths especially shall have equal rights to participate in the forum and learn from the forefront of indigenous works. Recommendations
  • We urge the Permanent Forum to review problems of poverty and land rights, and to reassure that developments are not at the cost of indigenous peoples and free prior informed consents are consulted with indigenous communities. We urge governments to stop forced relocation and grant legal recognition to the ownership and control over our lands and customary resources.
  • We highly recommend the Permanent Forum to work closely with UNICEF to empower future indigenous leaders, such as developing capacity building, leadership training, youth entrepreneur development, and youth counseling projects for indigenous youths, in addition to an intergenerational Youth Preparatory Meeting for the Permanent Forum.
  • We request action plans and strategies to be discussed in the Permanent Forum for the reduction of education gap between indigenous and non-indigenous. And call for greater supports for indigenous education, at academic, policy, and financial levels. We want an education that will help end discrimination of the indigenous people, and promote respect of our culture, language, rituals, and traditional knowledge.
  • Grant access to the Permanent Forum based on our indigenous nations rather than on states, and restore the mislabeled and misclassified indigenous youth whose bloodline is mixed due to colonization by establishing a Multi-Indigenous Youth Caucus.
  • Call for the Permanent Forum to expand their membership by adding a position to be filled by an Indigenous Youth, selected by Indigenous Youth, to represent Indigenous children and youth of the world by the next session of the Forum in 2011.
  • The governments should have legal system to protect and represent indigenous people. In 2007 the Vietnamese Government arrested, defrocked, and imprisoned these three former Indigenous Khmer-Krom monks who are standing behind us today. We recommend that the Government, especially Vietnamese Government, respect the freedom of religion and have the legal system to protect victimized people.
Tengngila no kosuwa no mako, array. Thank you, Mister Chairperson.

KKF Welcomes Tim Sakhorn, Kim Moeun & Danh Ton to USA

Picture: KKF members welcome the former monks at the airport
Members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the general Khmer community in Philadelphia, USA are today celebrating the arrival of Khmer Krom latest heroes and human rights activists, Tim Sakhorn, Danh Ton and Kim Mouen. On 8th February 2007, two hundred Khmer Krom Buddhist monks from Khleang (renamed Soc Trang) conducted a peaceful demonstration demanding religious freedom. Five monks, amongst them Danh Tol and Kim Mouen were forced to disrobed by Vietnamese authorities and sent to prison for 2 to 5 years. Nabbed as the “Khmer Krom hero that rose from the delta”, Tim Sakhorn was a Khmer ‐Krom Buddhist monk and also an Abbot of North Phnom‐Denh temple in Phnom‐Denh village, Karivong District, Takeo province, Cambodia. On June 2007, he was defrocked and then deported to Vietnam by the Cambodian government for an alleged crime of undermining the relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia. In 2009, Kim Moeun and Danh Ton fled Vietnam after being released from prison and made the perilous journey through Cambodia to Thailand seeking asylum. When Tim Sakhorn was allowed to visit Cambodia for his mother’s funeral in April, 2009, he too fled to Thailand on a motorbike. They were accepted by the Sweden government later the same year. Today, they are celebrating their survival and sharing their stories to the world. The former monks are expected to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this coming week, travel to Washington DC and visit Khmer and Khmer Krom community around the USA to testify against the Vietnam government and tell the world the reality in Kampuchea-Krom.

KKF attends Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Picture: KKF President Thach Ngoc Thach stands with KKFYC youth in front of the General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters, NYC
Members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation Youth Committee and KKF are attending the Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this week in New York City, USA. An annual two weeks event, the Permanent Forum provides an important space for indigenous peoples from around the world voice to their concerns in regards to education, poverty and human rights. Driven with a passion to help their voiceless people back in Kampuchea Krom, Khmer Krom youths from Canada, USA, and France and around the world are gathering in full force to make their voices heard. Stay tuned for more updates!
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