Monday 15th January 2007 Speaker: Miss Hanh Thach Honorable CEDAW committee members, we honor to participate in the CEDAW session working toward the realization of the international women right. Read in Khmer Kampuchea Krom is the name for the Mekong Delta region of the current state of Vietnam. Our country measures up to 68,000 square kilometers and is the traditional homeland of Khmer-Krom. Throughout history, our identification and name of the Khmer-Krom people and their ancestral lands have been changed and/or referred differently by various colonizing forces. However through perseverance, our Khmer people remain committed to the principles respected in international law of peace, democracy and justice. The human rights of Khmer-Krom Women, at its core, are being violated daily by the Vietnamese government. From the time when Vietnam encroached upon the land of southern Kampuchea and took control of it, they had begun to strip away the identity of the Khmer-Krom people. The Khmer-Krom Women were forced to encompass all things Vietnamese through Vietnamization such as the adoption of Vietnamese family names, and make the Vietnamese identity their own both in their private and public lives. These restrictions on Khmer cultural identity have made life difficult; it becomes even hard for us to practice our religion. The Vietnamese government does not allow schools that will teach Khmer language, culture, nor tradition to our Khmer children who are the seeds for future generations. Consequently, there have been instances where students are punished and banded from using internet search on the subject of Khmer-Krom. Young women who are trying to learn about their identity and the Vietnam government denied them the right. The growing population of the Khmer-Krom Women is forced to desert their heritage and birthright because they are not given access to tools to empower themselves nor the education to recognize their inherent human rights. Here are some main points illustrated the systematic and gross human right violation taking place today in our homeland. For many decades, the Khmer-Krom indigenous women have been suffering through Vietnam’s following secret ethnic cleansing policies:
- Rice farming is the economic life line of our people and lands on our life. Vietnam’s land grabbing policy against our people means the extermination of our race through starvation and poverty.
- This poverty is a barrier to our people to achieve a higher education. Currently, there are less than ten of Khmer-Krom Women who have completed college degrees among the ten million Khmer-Krom populations.
- The lack of higher education among the majority of Khmer-Krom women resulted in extremely low employments rate. For example there are little to no Khmer-Krom women doctors to treat the near ten million Khmer-Krom people.
- Without education, coupled with the employment hardship, our Khmer-Krom women become victims of the sex trades and human trafficking. They are extremely volatile to HIV and AIDS epidemics.
- Because of the policies and practices, the Khmer-Krom Women who are all farmers have been deceived by the Vietnamese government into practicing the so called tied tube program as part of Vietnam’s policy of controlling the over population growth issue.
- For Khmer-Krom People, we have abundant fertile lands and less farmers The Vietnam government confiscated our lands and lands in our hand become fewer and fewer due to the policy.
Finally, these Khmer-Krom Women are very discouraged and traumatically fearful of standing up to raise their voice against the afore-mentioned discriminations. They have no way out and see no light at the end of the tunnel. The Khmer-Krom people are socially discriminated against in modern day Vietnam as an indigenous people. The education of the Khmer-Krom people is neglected by the Vietnamese government. This lack of educational support and structure has and continue to bring adversity to the Khmer-Krom people as they can only be farmers and peasants living in absolute poverty condition. The Khmer-Krom Women face difficulty gaining access to all forms of health services and all levels of education and basic schooling. This in turn, makes the Khmer-Krom people the poorest segment of the population in southern Vietnam. Education is the key to learn about individual rights as human beings, for without this precious tool, the Khmer-Krom people will never be able to learn that they have god-given rights in this world. The natural equality between men and women was disrupted by the decimator brutal practice of violence by the colonizing forces of Vietnam and the balance remains broken. We are here to restore the inherent dignity and eliminate the double discrimination facing Khmer women. Please read in detail our Shadow Report, Shining the Light of Freedom in Kampuchea Krom for more in depth violations and discriminations on Khmer-Krom Women. Thank you very much