The Toronto Sun has a feature article about Khmer Krom dragon boat team participating in the 2006 International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships. The dragon boat team is part of KKF’s cultural innitiative have participated in many international dragaon boat racing events in the USA, Italy and Canada Read the full article.
Mr. Vien Thach speech on behalf of KKF at the UN Working Group on Indigenous Population, addressing the agenda “Item 8 The Future of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations” Thank you Mr. Chairman. As this is our first time taking the floor at this session and actually our first ever active participation in the historical UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, our daily living conditions illustrate how much we need a human rights mechanism to protect and promote our fundamental freedoms. We are aware we are here a little late; however, the future for our peoples depends on such institutions as the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. There is a consensus among experts that instead of extinction a new era of evolution has emerged. The KKF joins in this consensus. We believe the UN Human Rights Council establish an appropriate subsidiary body that can fulfill its bold agenda with the broad participation of indigenous peoples such as the Khmer Krom and that can deal with historical abuses and current grave violations of human rights to secure a future free of pain and persecution. I. Background of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom – Originating from the Funan Kingdom in the 1st century, “Kampuchea-Krom” has been the homeland of Khmer Krom People. It became French Cochin-China colony in 1867. Later, this homeland has been illegally ceded to Vietnam on June 4, 1949 without the approval of Khmer Krom People. – Kampuchea-Krom is approximately 68,600 square kilometers covered all the fertile lands along the Mekong River Delta and other parts of Vietnam. It is bordering with Cambodia on the north, on the Gulf of Thailand to the west, on the South China Sea to the south, and former Champa territory (the Central Highland) on the northeast. One of the most important commercial cities of Kampuchea-Krom was Prey Nokor. Vietnam changed its name to Saigon and later on to Ho-Chi-Minh City after the Communist victory in 1975. There is estimated between 8 to 10 millions Khmer Krom now live in Vietnam and around the world. II. Khmer Human Rights Depend on Effective UN Human Rights Mechanisms Our right to live in dignity depends on the ability of the UN Human Rights Council and the proposed subsidiary organ to offer a platform for us to propose future studies that relate to the challenges we face as indigenous peoples relating to health, development with a human rights framework, use of land according to traditional practices currently being challenged with emerging biotechnology and banned toxics and pesticides of the past especially in our homeland of the Mekong Delta. We look forward to carry out research activities with experts and to then engage in an active discussion with governments on common aspiration to guarantee the basic human rights of Khmer Krom. One such example would be a report of The Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights in Asia. We would then like to discuss government documents and research emerging from the partnership with experts in the subsidiary body. We believe parallel side events engaged with government might build a genuine partnership in the protection and promotion of human rights. We believe future standard setting could also focus on important themes to our continued cultural survival in our quest for peace. The role of religious beliefs in conflict resolution mechanisms would be important to our people. We also note that standard setting relating to the right of self-determination in international law relating to indigenous people surviving colonialism and new challenges from corporate globalization and climate change. We are a subsistence people in harmony with nature and believe there is still a great deal necessary in the area of environment and human rights. III. Conclusion In conclusion, we believe we must explore the possibilities of a mechanism that can respond to gross violations of human rights that destroy our community from mass murders of our spiritual monk leaders to brutal beatings to the level of torture by local authorities for the humbly exercising the human rights embraced in the Four Freedoms pursued by all on the planet – Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and yes, Freedom from Fear. Thank you for your attention to a first timer that hopes to spend decades in positive cooperation but even more desires to be able to live in peace and not have to defend one’s human rights in the international arena except one day as a contributing member of the United Nations to create a culture of peace and human rights in the world.
Dr. Joshua Cooper and Mr. Vien Thach of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federationis are attending the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Please read the statement below which mention of genocide on Khmer Krom. RFA interview on 07 August 2007 at 5:30am. Listen Now. Interview start 12:50 into the program. The 24th UNWGIP Asian Indigenous Caucus Statement Agenda Item: 4 (b), Utilization of Indigenous Peoples’ Lands by Non-Indigenous Authority, Groups or Individuals for Military Purposes By Mr. Famark Hlawnching On behalf of Asian Indigenous Peoples Caucus Mr. Chairman, This is a joint statement on behalf of the Asian Indigenous Peoples Caucus, I would like to take this opportunity to express our congratulations for your election of Chairperson for this Working Group. I would also like to say thank you for choosing the theme for this Working Group, which was proposed by the Asia Indigenous Caucus in 2004. In the case of Asian indigenous peoples, militarization in indigenous territory is the main problem; utilization of indigenous peoples’ lands for military purposes is merely a predicament. Mr. Chairman, Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to militarization in indigenous territories in Asia, which is increasing at an alarming rate and threatening the existence and survival of indigenous peoples. In fact, militarization in indigenous territories is the root cause of human rights violations against indigenous peoples. In order to freely militarize and utilize indigenous peoples’ lands, resources, and territories, the governments enact laws, or issue decrees and orders for legal protection, that result in impunity for perpetrators. In the Philippines, extrajudicial killings are increasing. More than 70 indigenous leaders have been so killed by this adminstration. Two Cordillera Peoples Alliance leaders have been killed in two months. Marshall Law is still imposed in some provinces where indigenous peoples live in Thailand. Similar law was also imposed in Nepal after February 2005, and though there is a cease-fire, there is still a need to bring the military under the full authority of the new Constitution. In the Philippines the Lomad people find themselves to be victims of peace negotiations between the government and the Moro forces. Indigenous territories in Burma are classified as “Black Areas” in which ‘scorch earth’ policy is applied, and a shoot-on-sight order is still valid in these areas. The Arms Force Special Power Act is enforced in most states of North-East India. US army camps in Okinawa Islands are established in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Presidential decrees such as “Darurat Sipil and Darurat Militer” in Indonesia facilitates not only the militarization but also the confiscation of indigenous lands. Militarization in Chittagong Hill Tracts is conducted under the name of “Operation Uttoron”(Uplifhment). Similar conditions also prevail in East Asia. In Vietnam, the Khmer Krom peoples have survived genocide, gross human rights violations and even torture at the hands of Vietnamese military. Sacred homelands are confiscated and then protected by the military not allowing indigenous peoples to exercise their right of self-determination. Many indigenous peoples outside Asia are also suffering the militarization in their territories. Due to the above mentioned laws, decrees and orders: • Thousands of women were raped and rape has been used as a weapon of war. • There are over 1500 mine victims a year. • Porters are used as human minesweepers and human shields during military operation. • The number of internally displaced persons is estimated to range between one to two million. • Hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples’ children are recruited in the regular army and sent to conventional war. • Hundreds of thousands are forced to labor. • Sacred sites such as temples are destroyed by military forces leading to cultural genocide • An estimated 600,000 refugees currently live in their neighboring countries. • Thousands and thousands of acres of indigenous lands are confiscated to build training centers, camps, and other military purposes without any compensation. • Extra-judiciary killing is profoundly rampaging in conflict areas. • Indigenous peoples face extreme cases of brutal murder beyond belief such as the drowning in Kompong Toteung River and being gathered and locked into rice granaries then being burned alive in Pol Leav and Khleang. Mr. Chairperson, In accordance with the recently adopted DD by the Human Right Council, I quote PP10: Emphasizing the contribution of the demilitarization of the lands and territories of indigenous peoples to peace, economic and social progress and development, understanding and friendly relations among nations and peoples of the world, (end quote) The Asia Caucus recommends that the WGIP: 1. Shall conduct, or cause to be conducted, a study on “identification of laws, decrees and orders that facilitate to freely militarize and utilize indigenous peoples’ lands, territories, and resources, and its impact on indigenous peoples by imposing such draconian laws, decrees, and orders in the concerned indigenous territories. Its report shall be freely available to all as a UN official document. 2. Shall urge governments to immediately abolish the aforesaid draconian laws, decrees and orders. Indeed, these draconian laws completely contradict existing international human rights standards. 3. Shall focus attention-through a specific study and in setting the future agenda of the WGIP and Human Rights Council-on the issue of indigenous peoples’ religious freedom and upon the use and abuse of our sacred sites and respected places. All sacred sites of ancestors should be mapped and protected for the spiritual survival of indigenous peoples in Asia. Mr. Chairperson, Recognizing that good governance, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights are essential to achieve sustainable peace and development, We call on all member states of the UN to adopt the recently adopted DD by Human Rights Council in the forth coming UNGA in which we underline that the states shall strictly respect OP article# 28 and 28 bis. Thank you Mr. Chairman.