KKF PRESS RELEASE: 08 November 2007 On November 8, 2007, the Vietnam Court of An Giang Province brought Venerable Tim Sakhorn to the court for a trial after imprisoning him since June 30, 2007. In June 2007, Venerable Tim Sakhorn was arrested, defrocked, and deported to Vietnam by Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong and the Cambodian government. Disturbing details reveal that Vietnam arrested and was interrogating Venerable Tim Sakhorn right the defrocking. Tim Sakhorn. Cambodia government were flip-flopping with the whereabouts of Venerable Tim Sakhorn. On July 12, 2007, Venerable Tim Sakhorn was seen at a police station in Can Tho City and his whereabouts were reported to KKF. KKF promptly sent a report to the US State Department and other UN Human Rights organizations to notify them that Venerable Tim Sakhorn was being interrogated in Can Tho city,Vietnam. On August 1, 2007, Vietnam admitted that it had arrested Venerable Tim Sakhorn for attempting to enter Vietnam illegally. However, instead of accusing Venerable Tim Sakhorn for the crime of entering the country illegally, Vietnam accused him for the crime of “Sabotaging the unification policy” under Article 87 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. Faced with a lack of evidence for the above crime, Vietnamese officials proceeded to arrest and torture two Khmer-Krom women, Mrs. Neang Phe and Mrs. Neang De. They were forced to become witnesses and say that Venerable Tim Sakhorn was guilty. On August 23, 2007, the Khmer program of Radio Free Asia reported on how those two innocent Khmer-Krom women were threatened and tortured by the Vietnam authorities. Venerable Tim Sakhorn is a Cambodian citizen. His parents and siblings currently live in Cambodia. If Vietnam intends to maintain credible diplomatic ties with Cambodia, its government should invite the representatives of the Cambodia government as well as Venerable Tim Sakhorn’s parents and siblings to attend the trial. None were presented at the trial. Is this a real friendship between Vietnam and Cambodia that Venerable Tim Sakhorn had tried to undermine or merely an excuse to halt human right movement? If Cambodia is an actually Independent country, why is Cambodia government scared to stand up to protect its own citizen? Vietnam had tried to force Khmer-Krom famers including Mr. Chau In, to be a witness at the trial; however he refused to go because he felt that it was a set up. Mr. Chau In and other Khmer-Krom farmers have been filing complaints to demand returning their farmlands that have been confiscated by the Vietnamese authority. Instead of returning their farmlands back, Vietnam authority has used traditional dirty tactics to frame Mr. Chau In and other Khmer-Krom farmers and accused them of contacting Venerable Tim Sakhorn and contributes to undermining the relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia. Khmer-Krom residents in An Giang province are aware that the Vietnamese government does not have a free and fair trial for Venerable Tim Sakhorn. Thus, many of the invited residents did not want to attend. At 4 a.m. of the November 8, 2007, the Vietnam authority sent a car to pick up Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks from a couple temples in Swaiton and Kro-Bao districts and some Khmer-Krom people to attend the trial to show to the world that Vietnam does allow Khmer-Krom to attend Venerable Tim Sakhorn trial. At the trial, no lawyer was assigned to represent Venerable Tim Sakhorn and with no means to defend himself, the Vietnamese judge read the following, “According to the judgment, Ven. Tim Sakhorn must be sentenced to 15 years. Since Tim Sakhorn admitted his crime (without letting him to defend himself), so he will be imprisoned for 1 year.” In an attempt to make it legal so that they can imprison a Cambodia citizen, the Vietnamese judge proceeded to say, “Since Tim Sakhorn was already imprisoned since June 30, Venerable Tim Sakhorn does not need to be in prison. Vietnam will take Tim Sakhorn around the country to see the development of Vietnam nowadays and will let him free after the one year sentence is over.” Based on the judgment, Vietnam must be a “very big and very developed” country that why it takes couple months for Ven. Tim Sakhorn to see all of it. We are concerned about the safety and well being of Venerable Tim Sakhorn after this trial. There is no guarantee that Venerable Tim Sakhorn will not be placed in prison and be relocated to various provinces to avoid the truth being revealed. The trial of Venerable Tim Sakhorn is a mockery of justice. It shows that the Khmer-Krom people have no rights to defend for themselves under the Vietnamese Communist regime. Not on one occasion did we hear the testimony of Venerable Tim Sakhorn since his arrest in Cambodia. It is also disconcerting to see the Cambodian government violating its own constitution by sending its own citizens to let other country judge and imprison. If Cambodia cannot protect its own citizen, especially the Khmer-Krom people who escaped the oppression of the Vietnamese Communist regime to live in Cambodia, then it should issue an official document to give Khmer-Krom people in Cambodia as refugee status so the UNHCR can protect them. The Khmer-Krom people in Kampuchea-Krom will continue to be denied justice if they do not have the fundamental freedom as stated in international treaties and declarations. If Vietnam keeps violating the Human Rights of the Khmer-Krom people, the demand for the basic freedom of the Khmer-Krom people will never stop. On behalf of the Khmer Krom people, we seek your help in an international cooperation to urge Vietnam to respect the Human Rights of the Khmer-Krom people, so the mockery trial as seen in Venerable Tim Sakhorn’s case will not happen again with the innocent Khmer-Krom people. Respectfully Yours, Thach Ngoc Thach President of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
URGENT ACTION NEEDED KHMER-KROM MAN FARMER IS SUMMONED TO VIETNAM COURT IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06 November 2007 Pennsauken, NJ, USA BACKGROUND: The Khmer-Krom people are the Indigenous Peoples of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam (Kampuchea Krom). On June 4, 1949, Kampuchea Krom was transferred to Vietnam by the French colonial government without the consent of the Indigenous Khmer-Krom Peoples. The land is still inhabited by millions of the Khmer-Krom people who remain deeply attached to their culture, religion, customs, traditions and ancestral land. Living under the control of the Vietnamese Communist government, the indigenous Khmer-Krom people have suffered tremendous Human Rights violations, confiscation of ancestral lands, and economic and social deprivations. The Khmer-Krom people are not allowed to learn their own language, history, or to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism. VIETNAM ARRESTED CAMBODIAN CITIZEN IN CAMBODIA On 30 June 2007, Venerable Tim Sakhorn, 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 Sakhorn of using his temple as a place “to propagate activities that divide the relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam” as stated in the letter used to defrock Ven. Tim Sakhorn by Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong. After defrocked, Ven. Tim Sakhorn disappeared. The spokesmen of the Cambodian authorities were flip-flopping with the whereabouts of Ven. Tim Sakhorn. The spokesman of the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom-Penh, Trinh Ba Cam, had previously denied any knowledge of Ven. Tim Sakhorn’s whereabouts after his disappearance from Cambodia. On 1 August 2007, Vietnam admits through its official website (www.vovnews.vn and www.vov.org.vn), the Voice of Vietnam News (VOV News) that Vietnam authority just arrested a person who is a “disappeared monk”, Ven. Tim Sakhorn, for attempting to enter Vietnam illegally. Instead of charging Ven. Tim Sakhorn with the initial alleged crime of entering Vietnam illegally, he is being detained and will be tried for the crime of “sabotaging the unification policy” under Article 87 of Vietnam’s Penal Code. A KHMER-KROM FARMER IS SUMMONED TO VIETNAM COURT On 22 October 2007, the Vietnam Court of An Giang Province summoned Mr. Chau In to be a witness at the trial of Venerable Tim Sakhorn on November 8, 2007 (please see attached file for the details of this summon and the trial of Venerable Tim Sakhorn). Mr. Chau In is concerning about his safety due to this summon because he knows nothing about Venerable Tim Sakhorn’s case. If this is a fair trial, the Vietnam authority should invite all Khmer-Krom in his village to attend this trial, not just only him. THE KHMERS KAMPUCHEA-KROM FEDERATION (KKF)URGENTLY CALLS ON YOUR SUPPORT TO:
- our representatives to attend the trail of Venerable Tim Sakhorn to ensure that Venerable Tim Sakhorn receives a free and fair trial compliant with Internationally recognized standards of justice.
- Urge Vietnam to stop using threatened tactics to summon the innocent Khmer-Krom farmer, such as, Mr. Chau In who is just a farmer to be a witness of a trial that has nothing to do with him. On August 23, 2007, Radio Free Asia broadcasted in Khmer about how Vietnam authorities threatened and tortured Khmer-Krom women, Mrs. Neang Phe and Mrs. Neang De, to force them to accuse Venerable Tim Sakhorn based on what Vietnam authority wants.
- Urge Vietnam to respect the sovereignty of Cambodia because Venerable Tim Sakhorn is a Cambodian citizen.
- Urge Cambodia to send representatives to protect and defend for its citizen at Vietnam Court.
The KKF pledges peaceful means of advocacy in the spirit of democracy and international cooperation. KKF seeks your support to find the justice for Venerable Tim Sakhorn and other Innocent Khmer-Krom farmers in Vietnam. Thach Ngoc Thach KKF President
29 October 2007 By Kim Pov Sottan Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy A source from the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) indicated that 2 Khmer Krom Monks, and Khmer Krom people representatives in Tinh Bien district (South Vietnam) are currently being threatened with arrest by the Vietnamese authority, one day prior to the visit to Kampuchea Krom by a US Commmission on International Religion Freedom delegation, which is expected to arrive on Tuesday 30 October. Venerable Thach Bin, KKF representative, said that the abbot of the Sangker Duon and Ampil Svay pagodas, located in Tinh Bien district, as well Chau In, a representative of the (Khmer Krom) people, are facing arrest because the monks and the laymen plan to organize a demonstration to coincide with the arrival of the US Commmission on International Religion Freedom delegation. Ven. Thach Bin said: “Because the Yuons are afraid that, in the past, they grabbed these lands, they took over the Ampil Svay pagoda land, and turned them into a Yuon government army base, therefore, right now, with the arrival of the US Commmission on International Religion Freedom delegation, they (US delegation) will learn about this issue which can no longer be hidden anymore and the truth will come out. This is why they (Yuons) are threatening us beforehand in order to frighten Khmer monks.” At Tinh Bien, Kampuchea Krom (South Vietnam), about 100 people have gathered in front of the commune office when Chau In, the (Khmer Krom) people’s representative was brought in (by the Yuon authority) for questioning at the commune office, regarding the demonstrations about land issues which were held in the past. The group people who gathered in front of the commune office claimed that they are concerned about the arrest of their representative that is why several hundreds of them have gathered here: “My group support him (Chau In), because he is a good man, he is not bad at all. My group does not accept (his arrest), we must help him.” At the Sangker Duon pagoda, about 50 laymen have gathered inside the pagoda to protect the monks. Ven. Lim Puth said that the Vietnamese authority ordered him to instruct the people to put to an end their protests about land issues, but, he refused to do so, and the incident took place. Ven. Lim Puth said: “In summary, a number of laymen are concerned about my fate, they do not dare leave me (alone), they help by guarding the pagoda, there are not too many of them, about 50 to 60 of them only” In Khleang province, about 20 land protesters have traveled to the office of the ethnic minority office located in Prek Russey city, to demand for a resolution of the land dispute one more time. Leang May, a representative of the protesters, said that he hopes their number will swell by tomorrow in order to push for a fast resolution. RFA could not get a hold of the Vietnamese authority from the An Giang province yet. The US Commmission on International Religion Freedom delegation will visit Motr Chrouk province on Tuesday, and Khmer Krom representatives hope that the US delegation will not just come to visit them, but that they will push the Vietnamese authority to release all Khmer Krom monks who are currently being jailed, including former Monk Tim Sakhorn, the abbot of the Phnom Den pagoda who had been jailed for the past 4 months. Source: KI Media