Below is an appeal letter by KKF sent to organizations world wide. PRESS RELEASE June 30, 2007 To Whom It May Concern: On behalf of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) representing the indigenous Khmer-Krom people of the Mekong Delta (South Vietnam) and the Khmer-Krom diasporas around the world, I would like to seek your immediate attention and support to end the Khmer-Krom prosecution of Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks by Vietnamese Communist (VC) government and Cambodian government. Since a peaceful demonstration partaking with two hundred Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks on 8th February 2007 to request for a religious freedom, the Vietnamese government have arrested, intimidated, defrocked, and imprisoned nineteen Khmer Krom Buddhist monks. Five defrocked Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks are currently being imprisoned for 2 to 4 years in Khleang (renamed Soc Trang) province for allegedly organizing the demonstration. In response to the injustice, the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks living in Cambodia organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh capital on 27 February 2007. Venerable Eang Sok Thoeun, 32 years old, was found with his throat slit while residing in a temple in the Kandal province, Cambodia. He was murdered just hours after participating in a peaceful demonstration to demand Vietnam release his fellow Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks in Khleang province. The Cambodia authority prohibited the investigation of Venerable Eang Sok Theoun’s case. His body was immediately buried at 3AM by the Cambodia local authority. The Cambodia authority even prohibited Venerable Eang Sok Thoeun’s family and his fellow Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks in Cambodia to organize a formal Buddhist funeral service for him. On April 20, 2007, the Cambodia authority used a violent group of Cambodian monks who served for the Cambodia authority to beat up Khmer Krom monks conducting a peaceful demonstration in front of the Vietnamese Embassy. Venerable Lim Yuth, 23 years old, was injured when a rock was thrown by the opposing monk and hit his left eyebrow. On June 30, 2007, Venerable Tim Sa Khorn, Abbot of North Phnom-Denh temple in Phnom-Denh village, Karivong District, Takeo province, Cambodia, was summoned to meet the Head Monk of the Takeo province at Takeo city. After the meeting, the Cambodia authority and the Head Monk accused Venerable Tim Sa Khorn of using his temple as a place “to propagate activities that divide the relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam” The Cambodian police then ordered the Head Monk to defrock Venerable Tim Sa Khorn. At this time, the whereabouts and the fate of Venerable Tim Sa Khorn remains unknown. What is more disturbing is the fact that the letter to defrock Venerable Tim Sa Khorn was secretly approved on February 17, 2007 by Venerable Tep Vong who is the “King” of Cambodian Buddhist monks in Cambodia, but the people in Cambodia did not know about it until today. That approved letter was translated from Khmer to Vietnamese and the VC government distributed and posted the letter across all Khmer-Krom Buddhist temples in South Vietnam. It is a clear act of intimidation to suppress further human rights activities and movement by Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who want to standup for their religious rights.
- In this regards, I would like to urgently appeal for your assistance to:
- To intervene by urging the Cambodia government, Prime Minister Hun Sen, to release and re-ordain Venerable Tim Sa Khorn without any condition.
- Urge the Cambodian King to help protect Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks in Cambodia, who are facing severe punishment for using human rights tools to express their concerns.
- Urge UNHCR in Cambodia to help protect the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks currently vulnerable to attacks by both Cambodian authorities and Vietnamese secret agents.
- Pressure the Vietnam government and Cambodia government to oblige in accordance to their constitution and United Nations treaties, in particular to the International Freedom of Religion Act.
- Ask that Vietnam be reinstated in the list of the Countries of Particular Concern.
As an indigenous organization representing the Khmer Krom people, we are particular concern with the unfold events in Cambodia and Vietnam. The issue isn’t just about religious freedom; it is about their right to basic fundamental freedoms and rights. Peaceful Buddhist monks using human rights instruments are being severely punished by the Cambodian government without any help from external organization or government. We call on your intervention to stop such abuses and help to work with the Cambodian and Vietnamese government promote the movement of human rights and democracy. Respectfully Yours, Thach Ngoc Thach