2007-09-24 The Hague, 24 September 2007 – On Sunday 23 September 2007, the Kampuchea-Krom Foundation (KKF) in collaboration with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) staged a highly successful demonstration through the streets of Geneva to coincide with the sixth session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) is meeting from 10 to 28 September 2007 for their Sixth Session. One of the issues that the HRC will stress is the promotion and protection of all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The Khmer Krom, in Vietnam, are treated as second class citizens. Because of their ethnicity and Buddhist religion, they are often seen by Vietnamese authorities as a threat to national integrity. Their religious practices are strictly monitored and sorely repressed. Despite international pressure, a growing number of Khmer Krom monks and human rights defenders are being arbitrarily detained in Vietnam for criticising the regime and trying to raise international awareness of the situation. The latest example of this oppression has been the arrest, deportation and detention of prominent human rights defender and Buddhist abbot, Tim Sa Khorn. The KKF is an international organisation dedicated to the defense of the fundamental rights and the cultural legacy of the Khmer Krom. The Khmer Krom are an indigenous people living in southern Vietnam, especially in the region of the Mekong River delta. An estimated 8 million Khmers currently live in Kampuchea-Krom, mainly in rural areas. Since 2001, the KKF has been a member of the UNPO. The UNPO is a democratic, international organization located in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its Members are indigenous peoples, occupied nations, minorities and unrecognised or occupied territories which lack representation internationally. UNPO aims to protect their human and cultural rights, preserve their environments, and to find non-violent solutions to conflicts which affect them. In the spirit of universal human rights, the KKF and UNPO organised a march through Geneva to denounce the continuous human rights’ infringement toward the Khmer Krom and call upon the international community to help them guarantee their right to practice their religion freely. The march on 23 September proceeded as follows: 12:00-1:30 pm: March from Rue des Alpes to the Quai Wilson 1:30-2:30 pm: Reading of the letter at the Palais Wilson (Lakeside) 2:30-3:30 pm: March from the Palais Wilson to the Place des Nations 3:30-4:30 pm: Closing ceremony at the Place des Nations The peaceful demonstration included a ‘die-in’, the creation of a human chain, and a closing ceremony at which a letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour, was read out and delivered to her offices (see attached letter). The event received both local and international media attention, including, amongst others, Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America (VOA). Both UNPO and the KKF are extremely pleased with the event and would like to thank all the participants, as well as the Geneva authorities for their kind cooperation. For more information please contact the UNPO Secretariat on +31 (0)70 364 65 04. Source: UNPO
Monk Tim Sakhorn to be released in 2 to 3 days … after forced confession? 22 September 2007 Kim Pov Sottan Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Socheata (KI Media) A meeting was held among Khmer Krom people on Friday afternoon, at Wat Samaki Raingsey Pagoda to celebrate the United Nations adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and more importantly, to push for the release of former Monk Tim Sakhorn. Venerable Yoeung Sin, a Khmer Krom monk leader, said that this celebration took place smoothly, and did not meet with any problem, even though earlier, the authority came to issue threats to the gathering of Khmer Krom group. Monk Yoeung Sin said: “On 20 (September), the deputy district governor, the city and district cult officials, the deputy commune chief, and police officials came to this pagoda, telling me to sign an agreement stating that if there is any carelessness, or if people would come to cause trouble to me, I will be held responsible in front of the law. Then, I told them that I am not signing any agreement at all.” The first day of celebration was organized with Buddhist rituals under tight surveillance from the police. During the subsequent days of the celebration, foreign embassy officials, NGO officials and Khmer Krom people also came to participate in the celebration. On that occasion, US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli gave his reaction on Khmer Krom issues for the very first time, he indicated that he praises the freedom (atmosphere) during this gathering. He added that the US will continue to closely follow up on the case of former Khmer Krom Monk Tim Sakhorn. Ambassador Mussomeli said: “We are very concerned about this case, and the USA will continue to closely follow up on this case.” Regarding the case of former Monk Tim Sakhorn, the Vietnamese TV station in An Giang province declared that Monk Tim Sakhorn will be released in the next few days, after the former monk confessed [most likely under duress] that he was influenced by propaganda made by a number of people which led him to undertake activities to undermine the friendship between Cambodia and Vietnam. Chau In, a representative of people who are protesting their land problems in Kampuchea Krom, said: “The An Giang province television station issued a broadcast … they talked about me and Venerable Tim Sakhorn who are involved with the (Khmer Kampuchea-Krom) Federation, they claimed that we will change ourselves, and they told the venerable to confess his mistakes. Based on what they said, they will release him in 2 to 3 days because, right now, they are looking for a doctor to take care of him.” Monk Tim Sakhorn, the former abbot of Phnom Den pagoda in Takeo province, 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, he was later deported to South Vietnam to be jailed there. After the defrocking and the imprisonment of a Khmer Krom monk in this manner, several organizations took turn to protest and condemn the Cambodian and the Vietnamese authorities, even until now.
Adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007 Download in pdf l Download Khmer version of this declaration Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,and good faith in the fulfilment of the obligations assumed by States in accordance with the Charter, Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different,and to be respected as such, Affirming also that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind, Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust, Reaffirming that indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind, Concerned that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests, Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources, Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States, Welcoming the fact that indigenous peoples are organizing themselves for political, economic, social and cultural enhancement and in order to bring to an end all forms of discrimination and oppression wherever they occur, Convinced that control by indigenous peoples over developments affecting them and their lands, territories and resources will enable them to maintain and strengthen their institutions, cultures and traditions, and to promote their development in accordance with their aspirations and needs, Recognizing that respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment, 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, Recognizing in particular the right of indigenous families and communities to retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the child, Considering that the rights affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and indigenous peoples are, in some situations, matters of international concern, interest, responsibility and character, Considering also that treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, and the relationship they represent, are the basis for a strengthened partnership between indigenous peoples and States, Acknowledging that the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights1 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,2 affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development, Bearing in mind that nothing in this Declaration may be used to deny any peoples their right to self-determination, exercised in conformity with international law, Convinced that the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in this Declaration will enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and indigenous peoples, based on principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith, Encouraging States to comply with and effectively implement all theirobligations as they apply to indigenous peoples under international instruments, in particular those related to human rights, in consultation and cooperation with the peoples concerned, Emphasizing that the United Nations has an important and continuing role to play in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, Believing that this Declaration is a further important step forward for the recognition, promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms of indigenous peoples and in the development of relevant activities of the United Nations system in this field, Recognizing and reaffirming that indigenous individuals are entitled without discrimination to all human rights recognized in international law, and that indigenous peoples possess collective rights which are indispensable for their existence, well-being and integral development as peoples, Recognizing also that the situation of indigenous peoples varies from region to region and from country to country and that the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical and cultural backgrounds should be taken into consideration, Solemnly proclaims the following United Nations Declaration on the Rights ofIndigenous Peoples as a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect: Article 1 Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law. Article 2 Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity. Article 3 Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Article 4 Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions. Article 5 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State. Article 6 Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality. Article 7 1. Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person. 2. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group. Article 8 1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. 2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration; (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them. Article 9 Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right. Article 10 Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on justand fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return. Article 11 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature. 2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs. Article 12 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains. 2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned. Article 13 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means. Article 14 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning. 2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination. 3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language. Article 15 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information. 2. States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society. Article 16 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity. Article 17 1. Indigenous individuals and peoples have the right to enjoy fully all rights established under applicable international and domestic labour law. 2. States shall in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples take specific measures to protect indigenous children from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, taking into account their special vulnerability and the importance of education for their empowerment. 3. Indigenous individuals have the right not to be subjected to any discriminatory conditions of labour and, inter alia, employment or salary. Article 18 Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions. Article 19 States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. Article 20 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities. 2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress. Article 21 1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security. 2. States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities. Article 22 1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration. 2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination. Article 23 Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions. Article 24 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services. 2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right. Article 25 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard. Article 26 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. 3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. Article 27 States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process. Article 28 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent. 2. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress. Article 29 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent. 3. States shall also take effective measures to ensure, as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health of indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by such materials, are duly implemented. Article 30 1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned. 2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities. Article 31 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions. 2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights. Article 32 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. 3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact. Article 33 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions. This does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship of the States in which they live. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance with their own procedures. Article 34 Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards. Article 35 Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the responsibilities of individuals to their communities. Article 36 1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders. 2. States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effectivetraditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of this right. Article 37 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. 2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. Article 38 States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration. Article 39 Indigenous peoples have the right to have access to financial and technical assistance from States and through international cooperation, for the enjoyment of the rights contained in this Declaration. Article 40 Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights. Article 41 The organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations shall contribute to the full realization of the provisions of this Declaration through the mobilization, inter alia, of financial cooperation and technical assistance. Ways and means of ensuring participation of indigenous peoples on issues affecting them shall be established. Article 42 The United Nations, its bodies, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, including at the country level, and States shall promote respect for and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration. Article 43 The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world. Article 44 All the rights and freedoms recognized herein are equally guaranteed to male and female indigenous individuals. Article 45 Nothing in this Declaration may be construed as diminishing or extinguishing the rights indigenous peoples have now or may acquire in the future. Article 46 1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States. 2. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law, and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society. 3. The provisions set forth in this Declaration shall be interpreted in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.
13 September 2007 – The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text. A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have all welcomed today’s adoption. Sheikha Haya said “the importance of this document for indigenous peoples and, more broadly, for the human rights agenda, cannot be underestimated. By adopting the Declaration, we are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.” But she warned that “even with this progress, indigenous peoples still face marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into conflicts and land disputes that threaten their way of life and very survival; and, suffer from a lack of access to health care and education.” In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban described the Declaration’s adoption as “a historic moment when UN Member States and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all.” He called on governments and civil society to ensure that the Declaration’s vision becomes a reality by working to integrate indigenous rights into their policies and programmes. Ms. Arbour noted that the Declaration has been “a long time coming. But the hard work and perseverance of indigenous peoples and their friends and supporters in the international community has finally borne fruit in the most comprehensive statement to date of indigenous peoples’ rights.” The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates there are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide. Members of the Forum said earlier this year that the Declaration creates no new rights and does not place indigenous peoples in a special category. Ambassador John McNee of Canada said his country was disappointed to have to vote against the Declaration, but it had “significant concerns” about the language in the document. The provisions on lands, territories and resources “are overly broad, unclear and capable of a wide variety of interpretations” and could put into question matters that have been settled by treaty, he said. Mr. McNee said the provisions on the need for States to obtain free, prior and informed consent before it can act on matters affecting indigenous peoples were unduly restrictive, and he also expressed concern that the Declaration negotiation process over the past year had not been “open, inclusive or transparent.” Source: General Assembly
Below are extracts from the original report by the US State Department on Vietnam and the Khmer Krom issues International Religious Freedom Report 2007 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor The Constitution provides for freedom of worship; however, government restrictions still remained on the organized activities of religious groups. The status for the respect of religious freedom and practice continued to experience important improvements during the reporting period. The Government deepened implementation of its 2004 Ordinance on Religion and Belief and supplemental decrees on religious policy issued in 2005, (referred to as the Government’s “legal framework on religion.”) New congregations were registered throughout the country’s 64 provinces; a number of religious denominations were registered at the national level; and citizens were generally allowed to practice religion more freely. Improving economic conditions in the country also allowed for greater access to religious practice and resources. In recognition of its “significant improvements towards advancing religious freedom,” the U.S. Department of State lifted the country’s designation as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for Religious Freedom in November 2006. The Government continued to remain concerned that some ethnic minority groups active in the Central Highlands were operating a self-styled “Dega Church,” which reportedly mixes religious practice with political activism and calls for ethnic minority separatism. The Government also actively restricted the leadership of the unrecognized Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) and maintained that it would not recognize this organization under its current leadership. The Government maintained a prominent role overseeing recognized religions. Religious groups encountered the greatest restrictions when they engaged in activities that the Government perceived as political activism or a challenge to its rule. The Government continued to ban and actively discourage participation in one unrecognized faction of the Hoa Hao Buddhists. Government authorities imprisoned and disrobed a number of ethnic Khmer Buddhists for their involvement in antigovernment protests in the Mekong Delta in early 2007. Some religious figures, including Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly and Protestant pastor Nguyen Van Dai, were sentenced to prison terms for their political activism. Section I. Religious Demography Buddhism is the dominant religious belief. Many Buddhists practice an amalgam of Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucian traditions that sometimes is called the “triple religion.” The Committee for Religious Affairs cited an estimate of 12 percent (10 million) practicing Mahayana Buddhists, most of whom are members of the ethnic Kinh majority and found throughout the country, especially in the populous areas of the northern and southern delta regions. There are proportionately fewer Buddhists in certain highland areas, although migration of Kinh to these areas is changing this distribution. A Khmer ethnic minority in the south practices Theravada Buddhism. Numbering more than one million persons, they live almost exclusively in the Mekong Delta. Restrictions on Religious Freedom The Government requires all Buddhist monks to be approved by and work under the officially recognized Buddhist organization, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS). The number of Buddhist student monks is controlled and limited by the Committee on Religious Affairs, although the number of Buddhist academies at the local and provincial levels has increased in recent years in addition to several university-equivalent academies. In the Mekong Delta, reliable information indicated that at least 10 ethnic Khmer monks were derobed and subjected to disciplinary action, including detention and pagoda arrest, for participation in a protest or protests against the authorities in early 2007. The Government does not permit religious instruction in public schools; however, it permits clergy to teach at universities in subjects in which they are qualified. Buddhist monks have lectured at the Ho Chi Minh Political Academy, the main Communist Party school. Several Catholic nuns and at least one Catholic priest teach at Ho Chi Minh City universities. They are not allowed to wear religious dress when they teach or to identify themselves as clergy. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and Buddhist groups are allowed to provide religious education to children. Catholic religious education, on weekends or evenings, is permitted in most areas and has increased in recent years in churches throughout the country. Khmer Theravada Buddhists and Cham Muslims regularly hold religious and language classes outside of normal classroom hours in their respective pagodas and mosques. Religious groups are not permitted to operate independent schools beyond preschool and kindergarten. Section IV. U.S. Government Policy In August 2006 the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom traveled to the country to meet religious leaders and government authorities. In November 2006, in recognition of its “improvements towards advancing religious freedom” in the last 2 years, the U.S. Department of State lifted the country’s designation as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for Religious Freedom Violations. As defined under the International Religious Freedom Act, the U.S. Department of State found that the country no longer fit the criteria of a “severe violator of religious freedom.” On November 19, 2006, President Bush attended a historic ecumenical service at a Catholic Church in Hanoi. On November 20, 2006, on the margins of the APEC meetings in Hanoi, the Secretary of State held a private meeting with religious leaders at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City actively and regularly raised concerns about religious freedom with a wide variety of Communist Party leaders and government officials, including authorities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, and other offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the provinces. The mission also maintained regular contact with religious leaders and dissidents. The U.S. Ambassador, the consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, and other embassy and consulate officers raised religious freedom matters with senior cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, the two Deputy Prime Ministers, the Foreign Minister, other senior government officials, the head of the Committee on Religious Affairs, Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Public Security, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ External Relations Office in Ho Chi Minh City, chairpersons of Provincial People’s Committees around the country, and other officials, particularly in the Central and Northwest Highlands. Embassy and consulate officials maintained regular contact with the key government offices responsible for respect for human rights. Embassy and consulate officers repeatedly informed government officials that progress on religious freedom and human rights was critical to an improved bilateral relationship. Mission officers urged recognition of a broad spectrum of religious groups, including members of the UBCV, Protestant house churches, and dissenting Hoa Hao and Cao Dai groups. They urged greater freedom for recognized religious groups. Mission officers repeatedly advocated ending restrictions on Thich Huyen Quang and Thich Quang Do, among others. The Ambassador also requested that the Government investigate alleged abuses of religious believers and punish any officials found to be responsible. Mission officers, along with the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, continued to urge a complete end to forced renunciations and the punishment of officials involved, asked for the release of religious and political prisoners, and called for the registration and reopening of house churches that had been closed. Embassy officers and other U.S. government officials repeatedly raised the case of Ma Van Bay with the Government through dissemination of an official list of prisoners of concern. The Government released Ma Van Bay as part of the National Day amnesty in September 2006. Representatives of the Embassy and the consulate general had frequent contact with leaders of major religious communities, including Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, and Muslims. In April 2007 the consul general and a State Department deputy assistant secretary met with Thich Quang Do. Consulate officers maintained regular contact with Do and other UBCV-affiliated monks. Embassy and consulate officers met with the Cardinal of Ho Chi Minh City, the Catholic archbishops of Hue and Hanoi, and the bishops of Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kontum, Can Tho, Lang Son, Buon Ma Thuot, and Haiphong, as well as other members of the Episcopal Conference. Embassy and consulate officers also met repeatedly with leaders of the SECV, ECVN, and various Protestant house churches and with leaders of the Muslim community. When traveling outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Embassy and Consulate General officers regularly met with provincial religious affairs committees, village elders, local clergy, and believers. Mission officers continued to encourage and monitor implementation of the Government’s legal framework on religion, on a regular basis, at the national, provincial, and local levels. International Religious Freedom Sept. 14, 2007 Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom John V. Hanford, III makes remarks and answers press questions at the release of the 2007 International Religious Freedom report at the Department of State. Read original report
According to a report inside Kampuchea-Krom today, Khmer Krom farmers are once against marching to the former Khmer city, Prey Nokor (renamed Ho Chi Minh) to demonstrate for the return of their ancestral homelands. Increasing reports of land confiscation by authorities have resulted in an increase in demonstrations by indigenous Khmer Krom people and ethnic Vietnamese conducted in Prey Nokor and Hanoi in recent months. Poverty, hunger and landlessness are driving these desperate farmers to protest demanding that resolutions be made to resolve the land crisis. Protestors report increasing acts of intimidation and harassment by local police authorities in a massive operation to halt further protest. Many protestors have been arrested for allegedly disturbing the “Vietnamese society” while others have been forced to become a Vietnamese spy in order to be released from jail.
There are millions of Khmer in Kampuchea Krom, in Cambodia and around the world; yet the devil invader continues insult, oppress and colonize us and our land. Being silent is not an option to stop this monstrous communist. Let us set the Khmer Day of Action, the struggle movement to reveal the true nature of VN communist and let this devil know that we, Khmer, can fight to protect our home land, dignity, culture and people. My dear compatriots, we have suffered for so long; yet there are some (Tep Vong, Non Nget and their group) who tries to ignore this issue and help the devil, the invader to colonize what is left of our home land and people. We commit ourselves to equip the struggle movement with human rights and responsibility. We are confident that the world will support our struggle and help our loving people. We have always behaved ourselves and believe that under the true history, we have placed our greatest strength and safeguard in the name Khmer-Krom loyal heart and good will of our ancestor. And therefore, we are come together at this time, to resolve, to unite and become a warrior, in the midst and the heat of the freedom battle field, to live or to die for our people and for our homeland. Our honor, tears, sweat and our blood will ever live for this fight. We know that we live under their oppression, their authority, their superior; but we have the heart of a warrior, and we will never let the enemy control our Khmer soul or the truth of our nation. The KKF will continue to raise your voice, your suffering and will never let the devil go free or continue to commit their shameful and selfish on our people. We know already by your courage, that you have deserved the reward of honors. We assure you that on the word of truth, the enemy will be appropriately paid you. Our peaceful struggle will shortly have a great victory over the VC. With all the strengths of our past ancestors and the knowledge that our lord Buddha has taught us, we will fight against this monstrous communist day and night. For it is “our responsibilities.” Our goal is to answer our ancestor’s vision. One entitled “Self-determination”. We know our struggle will long and hard road may be, for without “Self-determination” there will be no freedom, no human rights. Worse, if we do not fight, what is left of our culture will be eroded as if never existed in the first place. We would like to appeal to all our Khmer people around the world to come together and join the Khmer Day of Action – The Action to protect our people, our nation. “A day of action is a day of unity” T.Thach
By Mayarith Radio Free Asia A Vietnamese newspaper from An Giang (Mout Chruke) province published a picture showing former Monk Tim Sakhorn sitting in front of Vietnamese cops during his questioning. The picture (see above) shows Monk Tim Sakhorn pointing to a document in front of Vietnamese cops. This is the very first time that a picture shows that former Monk Tim Sakhorn is still alive. The VN newspaper dated 28 August reported that former Monk Tim Sakhorn is accused of inciting minority people in VN to demonstrate against the Hanoi regime. The newspaper also reported that former Monk Tim Sakhorn distributed Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) documents, as well as VCDs and information bulletins which oppose the VN regime. The Vietnamese state-owned newspaper quoted Monk Tim Sakhorn as providing the names of at least 6 KKF leaders involved in activities opposing the communist Hanoi regime. The alleged names of the 6 KKF leaders are: Chau Riep, Tran Manh Rinh, Thach Ngoc Thach, Prak Sereivudh, Mrs. Son Thinit, Tran Giap, and To Kim Thong. The 6 are accused (by Hanoi) of providing money and documents to former Monk Tim Sakhorn so that he can lead anti-Hanoi activities. Mrs. Son Thinit, the KKF representative of Khmer Krom women, reacted on this newspaper report, from her home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, by saying: “Based on the (recent) Vietnamese report, before that we did not know where Monk Tim Sakhorn was, but now with this newspaper report, we know exactly that Monk Tim Sakhorn is really in Vietnam. However about the alleged claim made by Monk Tim Sakhorn, this may not be true because he never participated in any KKF committee meetings, and if Monk Tim Sakhorn helped published (KKF) information, this is his individual freedom rights. The Vietnamese newspaper report was made with the intention of discouraging (Khmer Krom) people from demonstrating about their land disputes, and they (Vietnamese) are doing it also to create discords among the Khmer Kampuchea Krom communities in Kampuchea Krom, and also among the Khmer Krom communities in Cambodia and those in Kampuchea Krom.” Mrs. Son Thinit said that she met former Monk Tim Sakhorn in Cambodia when she visited Cambodia in February of this year. However, she maintained that former Monk Tim Sakhorn is not a KKF member. She said that the action taken by Monk Tim Sakhorn was done to preserve the freedom rights of Khmer Kampuchea Krom people who are currently being oppressed by the communist Hanoi regime. By Mayarith Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy
According to the Khmer program of Radio Free Asia coverage on Monday 3rd September 2007, the Vietnamese authorities attempted to arrest hundreds of Khmer Krom farmers conducting a peaceful protest demanding land issues be resolved. The protestors made their way from An Giang province to Cambodia’s former city, Ho Chi Minh early Sunday. Amongst the arrested on Monday were the Mr. Thach Ut and Mr. Chau Tich, both Khmer Krom farmers. According to an interview on Radio Free Asia, Mr. Thach Ut was released after being forced to submit to the condition of being a undercover spy for the Vietnamese government. His job required them to report all activities of the Khmer Krom people. “They released me at 10PM. They forced me to place blame on Chau In and Chau Son,” says Mr. Thach Ut in his interview to RFA. Mr. Chau In, a Khmer Krom land rights activist was summoned a week ago to the local police station. The reason behind the summon was unknown at the time. “They want me to say that I received money from Mr. Chau In, Chau Son, and Tim Sakhorn. They told me to say that. If not, they will not release me.” It appears that desperate tactics are being employed by the Vietnamese authorities to gather evident to convict Tim Sakhorn, former Abbot of Takeo Province. He is currently under the custody of the Vietnamese authorities who are attempting to put him on trial under Vietnamese laws despite being a Cambodian citizen for over twenty years. Mr. Thach Ut is the third farmer to be targeted by Vietnamese authorities in their attempt to accuse them of receiving money from Tim Sakhorn to organise peaceful demonstration. Vietnamese authorities are notorious for its one way and one party policy. Many Khmer Krom farmers as well as Buddhist monks have been arrested or defrocked for disturbing the Vietnamese society. Mr. Mr. Trinh Ba Cam, spokesman for the Vietnam Embassy in Cambodia has defended the Vietnamese authorities stating that its government does not force any one to spy on the Khmer Krom people. On the contrary, Mr. Thach Ut has provided a live on air testimony via RFA stating Vietnamese authorities are indeed using those tactics to further oppress its indigenous peoples.
12:00PM (Kampuchea-Krom time) Vietnamese police from Ang Giang province have been reportedly followed the Khmer Krom protestors as they make their way to Ho Chi Minh City. The protestors have told KKN that the police authorities have threatened them with mortal consequences if they did not stop and return home ASAP. Scared but determined, the protestors are continuing to make their way to make their voices heard. Please help by calling up news agencies in VN and across the borders and world to cover this event. Or call up your embassies in VN to tell them of the unfolding event!