Khmer Krom condemn the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments

26 August 2007 By Kim Pov Sottan – Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Socheata of KI-Media The Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) angrily condemned the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments on the violence and severe human rights violations perpetrated in both Cambodia and Vietnam. The urgent statement dated 24 August was issued after it was reported that oppression and more arrests and jailing of Khmer Krom people are currently being conducted in South Vietnam, and those arrested are accused of involvement with Monk Tim Skahorn, the former abbot of Phnom Den pagoda. Vietnam accused Monk Tim Sakhorn of paying people to protest and demonstrate against Vietnam. Thach Ngoc Thach, KKF President, said that his federation could not remain silent in this case. He said that KKF will bring their complaints to the international community next month. Thach Ngoc Thach said: “Venerable Tim Sakhorn’s case is now turning into an international case, all the countries which we contacted, including the United Nations, as I told you earlier, will take up this case to demand an answer from the Vietnamese government, as in the case of the European Union Parliament which has recently announced its decision to push the Vietnamese government to resolve the case of 5 Khmer Krom monks who were defrocked and jailed until now. Therefore, in the future, the EU Parliament will continue to issue other decisions in the case of Venerable Tim Sakhorn.” In the same statement, KKF exposed the religious rights and human rights violations perpetrated by the Vietnamese government against the demonstrations held by (Khmer Krom) monks, and the defrocking of 5 Khmer Krom monks who were subsequently sent to jail a few months earlier. KKF also exposed about the killing a Khmer Krom monk in Cambodia, the defrocking of Monk Tim Sakhorn, and the arrest of Khmer Krom people in South Vietnam and their forced coercion to put the blame on Monk Tim Sakhorn. Mrs. Neang Ye, a 50-year-old teacher from Sangker Duon village, Tinh Bien district, Motr Chrouk province (Chau Doc in Vietnamese) claimed that she was jailed for one day and that she was beaten up and tortured by the Vietnamese police which forced her to confess her involvement with Monk Tim Sakhorn, just because she protested several times in the past with the Vietnamese authority about her farmlands which were confiscated by the Vietnamese authority. Mrs. Neang Ye said: “They told me: ‘Are you going to answer or not? Will you answer that you took $100 from Monk Khorn (Tim Sakhorn) or not?’ They told me to answer yes then I will be released, they said to answer yes and place the blame on Monk Khorn to prevent Khmer (Krom) people from protesting too much. I told them that in this case, I don’t know about it, it’s a case that involves people in Cambodia and it happened in Cambodia, I live in Vietnam, I only know what’s happening in Vietnam. When I said that, they took a metal bar and squeezed my right thigh until it was all swollen, they threatened me, they held me by my neck collar, at that point, I was really angry, I hold one of the cop by the neck collar back. Then they told me that the lands that Khmer (Krom) people claim as their ancestral lands, they should go and claim with Sihamonineath, they said that do you know that these lands are Vietnamese lands, they said that the Vietnamese lands not only extend to Prey Nokor (Ho Chi Minh City), at the end, in 2008, Vietnamese lands will extend all the way to the Thai border.” Neang Ye added that land protesters in Motr Chrouk province are currently faced with daily threats and they are accused of receiving money provided by Monk Tim Sakhorn who financed them to rise up and protest against the Vietnamese regime. This threat also led another Khmer Krom woman to confess and put the blame on Monk Tim Sakhorn after she was jailed for a period of 3-day. KKF says that this is a new Vietnamese tactics used to bring in more charges against Monk Tim Sakhorn, because it couldn’t find a single reason to sentence Monk Tim Sakhorn at all. On 24 August, Khieu Kanharith, who, in the past, promised that he will ask a clarification from the Cambodian consulate in Vietnam regarding Monk Tim Sakhorn’s affair, said again that he is still waiting for an reply (from the Cambodian consulate). “There is no answer from the consulate to me yet, therefore wait, I will contact and ask them.” The delay and the continued jailing of Monk Tim Sakhorn led Chea Mony, President of the Free Trade Union, to threaten that he will lead a mass demonstration in the near future to express the hurtful feelings in seeing the open interference of Vietnam in Cambodia’s internal affair, and to demand the return of Monk Tim Sakhorn. Chea Mony said: “This demonstration will take place shortly because we are holding consultations with watchdog groups in the US, Finland, and France, and we are holding a meeting of the executive committee of each union regarding the holding of this mass demonstration with Khmer Krom brothers also. Therefore, if there is no resolution to this case, it will grow into a major issue.” Thach Setha, President of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Community, expressed his concerns about Monk Tim Sakhorn after he learned that Monk Tim Sakhorn is currently subjected to intense torture. He added that Khmer Krom community will hook up with the Free Trade Union of Workers to lead a mass demonstration also. Thach Setha said: “We will join our force together, and make it strong, in order to force the government to bring back Monk Tim Sakhorn, and also to demand for a proper respect of the law in the Kingdom of Cambodia, the government must respect the rights of their own citizens according to the law stipulated in the Constitution in used nowadays.” Monk Tim Sakhorn was defrocked by force by the Cambodian authority at the end of June, and he was accused of undermining the friendship between Cambodia and Vietnam. After his defrocking, he disappeared until a report indicated that he was jailed in Vietnam. Regarding this issue, International and national human rights organizations, civil society, MPs, Khmer Krom organizations and associations, and the king himself, asked Hun Sen and the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene and return Monk Tim Sakhorn back to Cambodia. However, up until now, Hun Sen and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remain silent to the requests made.

Innocent Khmer Kroms accused of receiving money from Tim Sakhon

PRESS RELEASE On August 22, 2007, Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasted in Khmer that the Vietnamese authority summoned a Khmer Krom man, Mr. Chau In, living at Sake Deouch commune, An Cu village, Tinh Bien district, An Giang province, to meet the police authorities of Tinh Bien district, An Giang province. Mrs. Kim Pouv Saton, RFA reporter, interviewed Mr. Chau In while he was on his way to meet the police authority. Mr. Chau In told her that the Vietnam authority is trying to accuse him for receiving money from Venerable Tim Sakhorn who is a Cambodian Buddhist monk that was defrocked by Cambodian authority and deported to Vietnam on June 30, 2007. On August 23, 2007, RFA (Mrs. Kim Pouvsaton) interviewed two Khmer Krom women who were imprisoned and threatened to admit an injustice crime for receiving money from Venerable Tim Sakhorn. The first woman is Mrs. Neang Phe, 69 years old, who is living in the same village with Mr. Chau In. She told RFA that she was imprisoned 3 days by the Vietnam authority […]. She said that she is old and she could not remember what they were trying to accuse her. She was so exhausted, so she just shook her head to admit whatever the Vietnam authority accused her so she could go home. The second woman is Mrs. Neang Ve, 50 years old, who is also living in the same village with Mr. Chau In. She was imprisoned for 1 day. The Vietnam authority accused her for receiving money from Ven. Tim Sakhorn. She said that, at this time, Mr. Chau In, Neang Phe, herself, and Chau Son cannot go to work anywhere. They are so afraid and just stay at home. She told RFA to appeal the Human Rights organizations to ask Vietnam to return Ven. Tim Sakhorn back to Cambodia because the Vietnam authority keeps accusing the innocent Khmer Krom for having contact with Ven. Tim Sakhorn. Mr. Chau In, Neang Phe, Chau Son, and Neang Ve are amongst hundreds of farmers from the area known to file numerous complaints to the Vietnam authority demanding for the return of their farmlands since last year. To this date, The Vietnam authority does not resolve the land issues for the poor Khmer Krom farmlands. Based on the interviews that were conducted by Mrs. Kim Pouvsaton with the […] Khmer Krom farmers in Kampuchea Krom, I can see that the Vietnamese authority is trying to find falsity evidence so they could accuse Ven. Tim Sakhorn to be guilty. Vietnam has imprisoned Ven. Tim Sakhorn who is a Cambodian citizen since June 30, 2007. Vietnam has no evident to prove that Ven. Tim Sakhorn is guilty. Thus, Vietnam has to use […] tricks to […] imprison the Khmer Krom farmers, especially an old woman like Mrs. Neang Phe; by accusing them receiving money from Ven. Tim Sakhorn so they can go to the big cities (Can Tho city and Saigon city) to protest to demand returning their farmlands. Fortunately, those Khmer Krom farmers are bravely to speak up with the RFA reporter. In this regards, I would like to urgently appeal for your assistance to:

  • Urge Vietnam to return Venerable Tim Sakhorn back to Cambodia unconditionally.
  • Urge Vietnam to stop threatening, torturing, and imprisoning the innocent Khmer Krom farmers.
  • Urge Vietnam to stop confiscating Khmer Krom’s farmlands and resolve their farmland issues.
  • Urge the foreign Embassies in Vietnam to monitor the Khmer Krom Human Rights violations and provide assistant to save the Khmer Krom victims if their life are in danger, such as the case of the people who are mentioned above.

Thanks for your help in advance and I am looking forward to hear from you. Respectfully Yours, Thach Ngoc Thach President of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation

Will foreign jounalists be allowed to talk freely to Khmer Krom?

Vietnamese ambassador in Phnom Penh, Mr Nguyen Chien Thang announced the Vietnamese Embassy will organize a visit for journalists to visit Khmer Krom people in the Mekong Delta, supposedly to see the actual situation of the living conditions of Khmer Kroms, according the Khmer language newspaper Koh Sontepheap. The announcement was made after waves of report of religious and human rights oppressions towards the indigenous Khmer Krom people. Previously on many occasions, the Vietnamese communist government have sent secrete agents posed as reporters to interview Khmer Krom, those who talked to the fake journalist were later met with intimidations and further oppression by the Authority for telling the truth. This organized press visit will once again caused fear among the Khmer Krom population. Khmer Kroms are afraid to speak to the journalists, and the people that journalists can interview are those who work for the Vietnamese communist party who will paint a rosy picture for the Viet Cong. Comes with this declaration, Mr Nguyen also change the charge regarding former monk Tim Sakhon who are currently jailed in Vietnam. Previously he was charged with “undermining national unity”, the new charge is with “undermining the religion between the two countries”. – Khmer Krom Network

Demonstrators call for release of Buddhist monk

LCHR Weekly News Digest 8-24-2007 Human rights demonstrators gathered to Paris earlier this week to raise awareness about human rights violations in the Mekong Delta as well as the recent arrest of the Buddhist monk the Ven. Tim Sakhorn, according to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The indigenous people of the Mekong Delta are known as the Khmer Krom and monks from this area in particular have increasingly become targets of government persecution and have been denied the freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. The disappearance of the Ven. Tim Sakhorn, who was living in Cambodia assisting other Khmer Krom refugees fleeing from Viet Nam, has also drawn attention to rights violations in southern Viet Nam. The most recent report claims that the monk has been returned to the country with the charge of “undermining national unity.” The demonstrations were well-attended- numerous petitions were signed and international representatives from the Khmer Krom spoke on behalf of Ven. Tim Sakhorn and other victims. According to the article: “UNPO delivered also an appeal, urging the Cambodian government to pressure its Vietnamese neighbors to respect international human rights standards, and to remember their own obligations to protect human rights defenders and those who seeking refuge within their borders.”

VIETNAM: Economy showing possible signs of overheating

ABC News 24/8/07 Vietnam’s economy could be showing signs of overheating as official figures show inflation on the rise. Consumer prices rose by more than eight per cent in August compared to the same time last year. And that’s despite government policies aimed at cutting import tariffs and fuel prices. Presenter – Karon Snowdon Speaker – Dr Adam McCarty, Chief Economist at Mekong Economics SNOWDON: At 8.6 per cent for August, Vietnam’s inflation rate could be heading into uncomfortable territory for the Government. Consumer prices have risen by 7 per cent in all since December, despite tariff cuts and lower fuel prices. Food prices have come under pressure with recent serious floods and disease outbreaks in livestock, most seriously rice is costing 15 per cent more. But Dr Adam McCarty, chief economist with the investment research company, Mekong Economics in Hanoi says there are other factors at work. MCCARTY: Yes, I think we were sort of expecting the numbers to go up by quite a bit this year compared to the last almost over a decade of very low numbers of inflation. Because the economy is just, maybe getting a bit overheated, infrastructure’s being totally utilised, skilled labour’s in shortage, so these sorts of things are pushing up prices. SNOWDON: So, where are most of the sort of bottlenecks occurring at the moment in the economy? MCCARTY: I think well in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there’s the services sector facing shortages of buildings and shortages of skilled labour, banks, there’s been a big rapid growth in the last two years in interest from foreigners and domestic and portfolio investments, and joint stock banks popping up everywhere. And they’ve been sucking in a lot of the best Vietnamese talent around town. SNOWDON: So are wages going up? MCCARTY: Yes, I think they are. I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but I would say well above the inflation rate, maybe 15 to 20 per cent a year for skilled labour. SNOWDON: The Government’s GDP growth target of about 8 per cent for the year, shouldn’t be hard to achieve. At 8.2 per cent last year, Vietnam is the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. Investments, exports and consumption are all surging ahead, but the World Bank reported in May that the booming stock market along with WTO membership “pose policy challenges for the government in the short- and medium-term”. Adam McCarty sees no major problems – yet. MCCARTY: All this excitement and the flood of interest is correlated to more efficient economy and all of the deregulation that’s been happening in the last five years. So it’s a cause and effect thing, it’s just a matter of how much capacity there is at the moment to absorb all this interest, particularly from investment funds that have grown from a few to many, very quickly. SNOWDON: So would you be expecting any particular or specific government response to these latest inflation figures? MCCARTY: Yes, but I’m not exactly sure what they’ll do. They’re a bit unpredictable at the State Bank. I think they will be controlling their deficit and their money supply as much as they can. The exchange rate has been actually depreciating against the dollar, the US dollar in the last few months. That might be a problem in the immediate future for them and it might have problems with inflation later on. SNOWDON: And also in the immediate or short term, the rises in food prices we’ve seen food prices go up, is that going to cause some hardship in some sections of Vietnam? MCCARTY: Yes, it probably will, The main commodity of rice is the main one to do with poverty and hardship, and if that price is going up in the domestic market then that makes it very difficult for people who have to buy their own rice. In the areas affected with flooding, that’ll be the central coastal areas, it’s a perennial problem and that’s the real problem with the central areas and their infrastructure gets all washed away and they have to repair and rebuild roads all the time. It’s very hard to get out of underdevelopment when you’ve been flooded seriously every five years

Ex-Special Force looking for KK team members

Mr. Lew Chapman, a former U.S Army Special Force “A” team member in Hau-Nghia Province, is looking for any former KK CIDG that were at camp Duc Hue in 1968. Mr Chapman, an African-American arrived in the camp in October 1968. He be-befriended with Khmer Kroms soldiers. If you would like to get in touch with him, please send us an email Thank you.

The Vietnamese communist fear its own shadows

A thought provoking letter by KKF President, Mr. Thach Ngoc Thach We, Khmer-Krom around the globe, have come everywhere today to share our suffering with the world community. We have and continue to see challenges and opportunities for all of us in this new era of globalization. We believe that there is an urgent need for thoughtful and open-minded discussions with the world on how to help Khmer-Krom inland so they will be free from oppression and Human Rights violation. Our campaign and travel around the world on non-violent and peaceful demonstration has been effective in generating greater awareness and concern regarding the behavior and human rights violation committed by Vietnamese communist government. As our campaign gets stronger with support, the communist Vietnamese government has showed their anger by continuing to generate brutalities act against our people including other indigenous peoples. As Khmer Krom people, we have fought for our rights for decades but we were hardly known to the world. Now, we are much more experienced in the world stage and having with the media. Our identities will be more and more known to the world for they will know who we are and for this reason alone, the Hanoi government fears it own shadow. Over the years, we have had to work very hard to uphold our own culture, particularly when it comes to ensuring our Buddhist religion is kept well and alive. We must not let the Vietnamese communist hid our society and our culture from the rest of the world. We firmly believe that the world communities have a role to play in promoting people’s freedom including the ability to choose what they want to read or hear. And we believe that our suffering is important and should not continue to be subjected further by such devious acts. That is why we have been advocating a new international instrument to set our clear non-violent struggle movement and to rise up against such oppression. We believe that the values of solidarity and the new international instrument will let our people free. To win this battle, we must draw from the source of our greatness. Armed with a pure Khmer heart and the true teaching of Buddhism, we will not allow the communist government to use fear and poverty against us. Our greatness strength is to tell the world the truth. We must not allow them to use fear and anger to manipulate or subdue our greatest strength and asset. On behalf of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, we would like to thank our compatriot who has joined and participated in the non-violent demonstrations around the world, in Australia, USA, Cambodia and France. No one can stop us in our determination to protect our nation and no one can eliminate the Khmer-Krom as people when the world knows extactly who Khmer-Krom is. Our greatest success in the movement of human rights realization is when millions of Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom and Cambodia work together to free our people from the communist government and colonization. “Our anger is the enemy want; while our true and compassion are the enemy fears” T.Thach

UNPO Demonstrates with Khmer Krom in Paris

The Hague, 20 August 2007 – After Australia and the United States of America, it was France’s turn to stage a Khmer Krom demonstration. Organised by the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) numerous members of the Khmer Krom Diaspora, Buddhist Monks, and supporters filled Paris’ “Esplanade de Droits des l’Homme” (Human Rights Plaza) on Sunday 19 August 2007, raising awareness of the human rights violations from which their communities continue to suffer. The Khmer Krom are the indigenous people of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and became a UNPO Member in 2001 where they are represented by the KKF. Since this time they have been actively involved in the organisation’s nonviolent struggle for the betterment of the human right situation in their region. As part of a broader assimilation policy, Khmer Krom Buddhists Monks have in particular been targeted for persecution. Breaches of their basic human rights have become increasingly common as they are identified as the primary bearers of the distinct language and cultural identity of the Khmer Krom people. Particular concern has been expressed most recently at the growing infringement upon the right to religious freedom, the right to freedom of speech, and the right to freedom of assembly. The recent defrocking and subsequent disappearance of the Ven. Tim Sakhorn, a Khmer Krom Buddhist Monk living in Cambodia, has also raised concern amongst Khmer Krom communities. As the religious leader of a temple which assisted Khmer Krom refugees fleeing persecution in Vietnam, many viewed the Ven. Tim Sakhorn as an important defender of both refugees and human rights. Recent reports suggest however that he has been returned to Vietnam by Cambodian authorities, where he is now under detention and charged with “undermining national unity.” The KKF and UNPO have both appealed extensively for his release, as well as for greater protection for the region’s human rights defenders. The well attended demonstration in Paris represented a further opportunity to bring his case to international attention, ensuring above all that he is not forgotten. In light of these recent developments the KKF has organized a number of demonstrations around the world. In Paris, Khmer Krom Buddhists, both from France and beyond, gathered across from the Eiffel Tower at the Esplanade des Droits de l’Homme, protesting human rights violations and calling for the safe return of the Ven. Tim Sakhorn. Colourful and lively protests were interrupted only by a moment of prayer, led by attending Khmer Krom Buddhist Monks, and remembering those who have suffered, and who still suffer, from human rights violations and persecution. Signatures were collected for a series of petitions, with the general public educated also about the ongoing situation in the Mekong Delta and the rich history of the Khmer Krom. Amongst the many speakers were representatives from the Khmer Krom in the Netherlands, Lyon (France) and Grenoble (France), as well as representatives from the Cambodian Associated League for Human Rights in France, and the Association for the Victims of the Khmer Rouge Genocide. Later in the afternoon a delegation, which included a UNPO representative, marched to the Cambodian Embassy, delivering an appeal to the Cambodian government, urging further support for the Khmer Krom and in particular for the Ven. Tim Sakhorn. UNPO delivered also an appeal, urging the Cambodian government to pressure its Vietnamese neighbours to respect international human rights standards, and to remember their own obligations to protect human rights defenders and those who seeking refuge within their borders. Against the backdrop of the peaceful prayers of an ancient culture, the Buddhist Monks and the many old and young gathered in the name of peaceful manifestation, it is hard to understand the justification of Vietnamese authorities for the continued severe repression of the Khmer Krom. Source: UNPO

Khmer Krom Land Activist Summoned By Vietnamese Police

On 20 August 2007, Lieutenant Colonel, Mr. Mai Van Noi, issued a note to summon Mr. Chau In to meet the police authorities of Tinh Bien district, An Giang province. According to the source from Kampuchea-Krom, the summon note did not state the reasons to why Mr. Chau In was expected to meet with the police. Khmer Krom residents living at Sa-Ke Douch Commune, An Cu Village are fearful that Mr. Chau In will be falsely accused of an injustice alleged crime. Mr. Chau In was amongst hundreds of farmers from the area known to file numerous complaints to the police demanding for the return of their ancestral farmlands. He has participated in a number of peaceful demonstrations since late last year, and earlier this year, demanding that Vietnamese authorities keep their promises to resolve their land issues. To this date, the land issues remains unsolved and Khmer Krom farmers like Mr. Chau continue to be intimated and harassed for using human rights instruments to exercise their rights. Khmer Krom people abroad are seeking the help of the international communities, foreign embassies in Vietnam, human rights organisations to help protect Mr. Chau In and hundreds of Khmer Krom people who are living in extreme poverty as a result of land confiscation by Vietnamese authorities. The current state of Mr. Chau In remains unknown at this point. Related articles: Over Three Hundred Protests As Vietnam Says No to Land Claims Khmer-Krom march bare footed for land rights