Appeal to Help Khmer Krom

An appeal to support Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks and the affected Khmer-Krom citizens Currently in Kampuchea-Krom and in Cambodia, the Vietnamese Communist government strongly continues to oppress the human rights and freedom of the kind and frank Khmer-Krom citizens. Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks have been defrocked and arrested one after another and the Khmer-Krom citizens have been threatened that their farmlands will be taken away from them. This is the strategy the Vietnamese Communist government have been using for many decades to break up and destroy the evidence of the Khmer-Krom background. Independently the Vietnamese Communist government collaborated with Tep Vong Norn Nget and the group that obliterated the Buddhist’s practice by defrocking and killing many monks such as the ordained priest Earng Sokern and the defrocking of venerable Tim Sakhorn. As we have mentioned and pointed out above, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation is pleading to all patriots, generous and charitable citizens for monetary donation to help support the affected monks and the affected Khmer-Krom citizens and their families. This support will show our concerns, help sharing grievances, protect our Buddhist religion and protect Khmer-Krom citizens from the Vietnamese Communist government. Letter of Appeal in Khmer

New Year Wishes From KKF President (English)

New Year, 2008!!! We ask. Khmer Krom answered. We listened. And we acted. We would like to wish everyone during the international New Year, the year 2008 with happiness, success, good health and prosperity. During the past year, 2007, our agenda platform reached the heart of our people across the globe. We asked our Khmer Krom, Khmer and the world community about the main issues facing Khmer Krom in Vietnam and Cambodia today. The goal: to help build KKF’s freedom platform that truly reflects the need of Khmer Krom, and to educate them the nonviolent Human Rights tool to fight the devil communist Vietnam. We held many sessions in 4 continents; so they knew what our KKF’s objectives, goals and vision. We met Khmer Krom and Khmer from all walks of life, all patriots. We met representatives from NGO, UN agencies, States and other indigenous groups. We met with educators, university lecturers, … We collected, listened and read volumes of material, recorded them and have binded for our long life road map learning to light the struggle to freedom. Together, in 2007, we have overcome various difficulties and attained great achievements. We appealed and we motivated thousands of peoples across the globe to stand up for their legitimate rights. We were there when our monks and peoples while they were beaten, threaten, injured, arrested and cried with tears and blood. Based on those appeals, questions, tears, responds we know what our people’s need now. We listened. Most importantly, we acted, by adding what we heard to KKF’s platform. The people’s appeals have been incorporated into KKF’s 2008 agenda and future direction. There are many issues which we have learned, we will target each one at a time until our freedom at the hand of our people. Rest assure that these issues and ideas will be implemented accordingly as it’s been in 2007 and in the past. The process of reaching out for input from our people is a must and will continue. We encourage anyone and everyone to continue providing input and feedback to KKF. We hope you all share in the pride of the accomplishments we have made along our transformation: from ideals to actions. A true transformation of any kind is not achieved without the talent, hard work, and ability of an exceptional team with the ability to focus and execute on plans. May our lord Buddha bless everyone. Sincerely, Thach N Thach KKF president

Vietnam: Violations of Indigenous Khmer Krom Land Rights

PRESS RELEASE: 14 December 2007 Pennsauken, NJ, USA According to Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasted in Khmer and in Vietnamese, there are hundreds of the Indigenous Khmer-Krom farmers gathering in front of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam office located at 210 Vo Thi Sau, Phuong 7, Quan 3, TP HCM to demand the Vietnamese authorities return their confiscated farmlands. Some of the farmers have claimed that they have filed complaints for decades and today receive no compensation or satisfactory results from the Vietnamese officials. The Indigenous Khmer-Krom farmers have been sleeping on the streets in front of the National Assembly since Friday night [07 December 2007] (Vietnam local time). For many of the protestors, it was a long way for them to travel from their villages to Prey Nokor (Ho Chi Minh City) because the Vietnamese authorities tried to stop them from going to file the complaints at the office of the National Assembly. This is the third time that they have been forced to go to Prey Nokor. The Vietnam authority has promised to solve the issues, but did not take any follow up actions causing yet another peaceful protest to be conducted at this moment. Instead of returning the confiscated farmlands to the Indigenous Khmer-Krom farmers, the Vietnam authorities are accusing those innocent Khmer-Krom farmers for disturbing the Vietnamese society. Protestors have claimed that Vietnamese authorities are threatening to arrest them if they do not return back to their villages immediately. Testifying via RFA, a female Khmer-Krom farmer has appealed to international organizations, especially the United Nations to help them because they felt that they had no rights to live on their ancestral lands. They are farmers and yet all of their lands are confiscated. For centuries, the rich fertile lands of the Mekong Delta have been an essential element for the survival of the Khmer Krom people, providing plentiful food and water. Since Vietnam’s occupation of their lands, however, hundreds of thousands are finding themselves homeless and further entrenched in poverty. Highly frustrated with Vietnam false promises, the protesters have said via RFA that they are willing to be killed if that was what takes for Vietnamese authorities to return their rightful land. Unwilling to comprise to the wishes of the protestors, Vietnam authorities are using intimidation tactics by sending the Vietnamese soldiers to the villages of the Khmer-Krom farmers to threaten their families. On behalf of the Indigenous Khmer-Krom voiceless farmers, we seek your help in an international cooperation to urge Vietnam to respect the Human Rights of the Khmer-Krom people, especially the right to own their ancestral lands. Since Vietnam signed the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007, it should show respect and implement the Article 26 of the Declaration “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.” If Vietnam did in fact take serious consideration into the land confiscation issues and implements appropriate and necessary policies, protests would not be a common occurrence. The protestors are not attempting to disturb the Vietnamese society as alleged by the Vietnamese authorities. The Khmer-Krom farmers are merely use a human rights instrument to bring to the surface a hidden problem that is a massive obstacle hindering them from living a fulfilled life as embedded in the Vietnamese constitution, international declarations and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Speech to Nonviolent Radical Party Conference

Speech by KKF VP Mr. Vien Thach Brussels, 8 December 2007 Mister Chairman, Dear Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, Dear Friends, The Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation is an organization struggling via non-violent means to claim rights over ancestral lands, to struggle for human rights enclosed in the UN Charter and relevant International Laws, and for the well being of our Kampuchea Krom compatriots in Vietnam – what once was French Cochin-China. Vietnamese authorities have consistently persecuted the Buddhists Monks of Theravada and the indigenous Khmer Krom people in its ethnic cleansing policy. The latter still pleads against the land confiscations; the arrests of the Theravada monks and their public dressing-down and humiliation. 5 monks were convicted to prison sentences of 2 to 4 years last May 10, 2007 alone for merely reclaiming the Vietnamese authorities to respect the Buddha’s teachings. To satisfy expansionist ambitions, Vietnam is casting a shadow over Cambodia by asserting its domination over its smaller neighbor. After Khmer Krom Buddhist Monks protested peacefully in front of the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh last February 27th, a monk was found slaughtered, his throat slit, alone in his room. The body was buried at 2 AM by the Cambodian authorities without letting relatives perform ritual funeral rites. Last June 30 in Cambodia, in the wake of Vietnamese pressures authorities, the Buddhist patriarch of Cambodia Tep Vong, ordered the defrocking without any due process of Ven Tim Sakhorn, leader of the North Phnom Den pagoda, of the Kirivong district, of the Takeo province. He stood accused of threatening Viet-Cambodian friendly relations. Thereafter, he was illegally deported to and imprisoned in Vietnam. This scandalous act was perpetrated in full contempt of domestic and international legality. According to witness accounts, in spite of strong protests by Venerable TIM Sakhorn, both against these bogus accusations and the methods used by Vietnamese authorities, the monk was forced to relinquish the saffron robe and wear the blue prisoners’ overalls. He was taken away by the bodyguards of General HIN Bun Heang of Phnom-Penh. The northern Phnom Den monastery, of which Venerable Tim Sakhorn serves as abbey, is situated two kilometers from the Vietnamese border. The monastery often houses and hosts Khmer Krom individuals who are persecuted by the Vietnamese authorities. The monastery disseminates materials on human rights and thereby elicits the displeasure of the Vietnamese authorities. Facing the unacceptable injustice which Cambodia unfrocks and deports its own citizen to be incarcerated in Vietnam, Cambodia has violated article 33 of its constitution. The Khmers and Khmer Krom communities and their friends throughout the world (France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Cambodia) who are very shocked of this human rights violations, organized several successive peaceful demonstrations claiming the release of their brethren monks such as Venerables Tim Sakhorn, Kim Moeurn, Danh Tuon, Ly Suong, Ly Hoang and Thach Thuong from their illegal detention. We were very pleased with the outcome of our demonstration in Geneva last September 23rd 2007. About 500 people demonstrated peacefully. Swiss television covered the event, and the UN accredited newspaper “The Human Rights Tribune” reverberated the event in its October 8 edition. The UNHCHR has taken into consideration as well the petition of our demonstration. The European Parliament has further expressed its concern over ongoing human rights violations by Vietnam in its July 12th 2007 resolution. However, Vietnam remains unmoved. Therefore, in the name of the Khmer and the Khmer Krom communities, I hereby issue an appeal to the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe and to the Transnational Radical Party to impress upon the governments of Vietnam and of Cambodian Monarchy so that each of these regimes should comply with their undertakings as members of the United Nations. Thank you. Vien Thach, KKF VP for European Affairs Download French version of speech

Khmer Krom Says Goodbye to Great Patriotic Men

On behalf of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, we would like to sadly announce the recent passing of three dedicated Khmer Krom human rights activists. Lok Ta Koy will be fondly remembered for his dedication to the Khmer Krom cause in Long Beach, California. He was amongst the few who attended the annual protest to commemorate the Creation of the United Nations in San Francisco. In the same week, Mr. Thanh Thach, also from California was killed while at work. He will be fondly remembered for his dedication to helping out KKF. He is survived by his wife and two children. Lok Ta Truong Duc will be missed greatly by the Khmer Krom community in Massachusetts, USA and those who knew him around the world. He was an active participant in his local community and an active supporter of KKF. A funeral was held last saturday to pay tribute to Lok Ta Truong Duc.

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“What the heart has once known, it shall never forget.” The death of three men so closely together has sent Khmer Krom community around the world reeling with shock and sadness at the loss. Our deepest sympathy and prayers go to the surviving families of these great men. Their patriotic effects will be forever imprinted and remembered in pages of the Khmer Krom struggle.

KKF Delegates Meet Congressional Human Rights Caucus on Vietnam

Over eleven Khmer Krom representatives headed to Washington DC to testify against Vietnam during the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on Vietnam on Thursday 06 December 2007. The event is the first of kind for Khmer Krom, the testimony by Mr. Sereivuth Prak, Vice President of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and International Affairs details the stark reality and human rights violation that continue to be committed against that Khmer Krom people and Buddhist monk under communist Vietnam See below for summary of the briefing:

Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) on Vietnam December 06, 2007 10:30 – 12:00 Office of Congressman Lantos 2413 Rayburn HOB Room 2255 Washington, DC 20515
Panel 1: Ambassador John Hanford, U.S. Department of State Panel 2: Commissioner Leonard Leo, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Panel 3: Chris Seiple, Institution of Global Engagement T. Kumar, Amnesty International Sereivuth Prak, Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation Nguyen Dinh Thang, Boat People SOS
U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, acting as Briefing Chair opened with a Statement on the Congressional Human Rights Caucus Briefing on Religious Freedom in Vietnam and welcome Ambassador Hanford, Commissioner Leo, and all of the panelists and guests. “I have been very concerned that the State Department removed Vietnam from its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) on November 13, 2006. Prior to my trip to Vietnam in April, my previous three visa requests to travel to Vietnam were denied by the Vietnam Government due to my outspoken concern about Vietnam’s human rights and religious freedom violation.” Congresswoman Sanchez was keen to hear from Mr. Leo Leonard, US Commission on International Freedom about his observation during the visit to Vietnam on Oct 23, 2007 to Nov 2, 2007. Mr. Leo testimony stated that: “Vietnam’s overall human rights record remains very poor and has deteriorated in the last year. The government of Vietnam has decisively moved to repress challenges to its authority. Dozens of legal and political reform advocates, free speech activists, labor unionists, and independent religious leaders and religious freedom advocates have been arrested, placed under home detention or surveillance, threatened, intimidated, and harassed.” As part of this testimony in Section II Buddhist Group Face Harassment and Abuses, the Commissioner stated that “is particular true of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), some Hoa Hao, and Cai Dai groups, as well as Khmer Buddhist.” The Commissioner also reiterate the evidence that “five Khmer Buddhist monks and are in prison for organizing peaceful demonstrations to protest restrictions on ordination and language training in Soc Trang province.” He concludes by stating that U.S. must continue to make clear to the Hanoi government that Vietnam must allows for openness, prosperity and freedom.
Panel III
Panelist testimony was then given by Mr. T. Kumar, representative of Amnesty International. He stated that Vietnam government needs to take the U.S. seriously for the interest for the both countries. Panelist testimony by PhD. Chris Seiple President Institution of Global Engagement “In understanding religious freedom–the cornerstone of civil society because of its inherent respect for the other–it is critical to keep in mind that values do not take place in vacuum. They are lived out everyday amidst the messiness of life.” One question was raised asking Congresswoman Sanchez what can be done about this. It was suggested that work must be done from top and bottom up at all levels with a clear strategic plan. Religious in Vietnam is part of the solution and very important point of contact in some degree to religious leader not threat to the society to serve people in their own faith. “We need to work toward a national law regarding religion, and significant internal political forces that seek to affirm rule of law in the context of religion and religious freedom.” Panelist testimony was then given by Sereivuth Prak, representative of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and International Affairs: In his statement he said that the majority Khmer Krom in southern part of Vietnam believes in Theravada Buddhism. For example: like the Christianity there are Catholic or Presbyterian but it’s very similar of faith. He brought up the issue of Venerable Tim Sakhorn, who was defrocked and deported to Vietnam and imprisonment in An Giang province for providing shelter to his fellow-country people. He was brought to trial in An Giang province for undermining national unity between the Vietnam and Cambodia. He also mentioned the five former Khmer Krom monks currently imprison in Soc Trang province. Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang Boat People SOS also testified stating that Vietnam government only recognizes the religion denomination and registers in legal activity and ordinance restriction by the local government. For example: in Soc Trang province the Khmer Buddhist monks has been pushed to the corner just because they conducted a demonstration to express their want of religious freedom. We, the KKF would like to extended our sincere thanks for The Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Cambodian for Human Rights and Democracy supports group that led by Dr. Nicole Ung, Venerable Xarong, and Khmer Krom group that led by Mr. Tran Mannrinh.
KKF delegates at the briefing

Khmer Krom in Vietnam plans to demonstrate to demand their lands back

05 Dec 2007 By Kim Pov Sottan Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Heng Soy of KI media A source from the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) indicated that Khmer Krom people living in Motr Chourk (An Giang in Vietnamese) and Khleang (Soc Trang in Vietnamese) provinces, Kampuchea Krom (South Vietnam) will hold their demonstration in Hanoi within 10 days to demand back their lands, if the Vietnamese authority does not provide a resolution to their land problems. The demonstration plan was decided when about 100 (Khmer Krom) people from Motr Chrouk province protested about land problems in An Cu commune, Tinh Bien distritct, and about 30 other (Khmer Krom) people demonstrated about land problems also at the Native people committee located in Prek Russei city on Tuesday. Neang Yer, the 50-year-old Khmer Krom woman who led the protest in Motr Chourk province, indicated that the Vietnamese provincial authority promised to resolve all these issues within 60 days, but that it has been almost two months already, and there is still no resolution yet. Neang Yer said: “I promised them that if in 10 days, there is still no resolution (on the land disputes) for us to see, we will go to the central (communist) party, we will go to Prey Nokor (Ho Chi Minh City), and we will wait there to see what answer they will give us. If they don’t provide a decent answer (in Prey Nokor), my group will travel to Hanoi next.” The same situation is also occurring in Khleang province, Vinh Ba, a Khmer Krom representative of the Khleang province protesters, said that the (authority) asked the people to remain calm a few months back, but it does not want to resolve this issue, that is why, the people came to protest one more time. Vinh Ba said: “The delegate of prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung came here 2-3 times already, but there is no resolution whatsoever. My group from Khleang village asks for a resolution. It is very difficult for us, the situation occurs long ago, 17-year already and there is no resolution at all. And for me, I don’t ask for anything else other than my lands, they (VN authorities) took them and they did not compensate me, how can I not ask for my lands back? I must ask for them back.” Land protests by Khmer Krom people are happening almost monthly. Villagers who lost their lands claimed that the Vietnamese authority confiscated several hectares of their ancestral lands to share among themselves (VN officials). Some saw their lands confiscated for more than 10 years already, while others have just seen their lands confiscated recently only. RFA could not reach the Vietnamese authority on this issue. Trinh Ba Cam, Hanoi’s mouthpiece in Cambodia, indicated that the confiscation of lands occurs in every country: “Land disputes are occurring in every country, however, their resolutions depend on the authority. The authority will provide a decent resolution according to the government’s determination.” Recently, a Cambodian parliamentary delegation led by SRP MP Son Chhay visited South Vietnam, in particular in Kampuchea Krom. During the visit, Son Chhay discussed with his Vietnamese counterparts about cooperation (between the two countries) and he also asked Hanoi to resolve the land dispute issues suffered by Khmer Krom people.

Fleeing Khmer Krom monks have arrived in Phnom Penh

21 November 2007 By Keo Nimol Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Socheata Four Khmer Krom monks who were victims of accusation leveled by the Wat O’Andoung pagoda committee, located in Banteay Meanchey province, which claimed that the monks have affairs with women, and were undertaking activities to serve the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation in the world (KKF), have arrived in Phnom Penh on 20 November. Venerable Thach Kong Phuong indicated that the four victimized monks have arrived in Phnom Penh, and they are currently asking human rights organizations to help them fight against these untrue accusations. Ven. Thach Kong Phuon said: “I had left the place already, and I arrived in Phnom Penh … I left on 18 [November], I left because they wanted to defrock me, and now I followed their orders: they gave me an ultimatum saying that if within 3 days, I do not get out from there (Mongkul Borey district where the pagoda is located), they would defrock me. In fact, they were supposed to defrock me since the 17th, but they told us (4 monks) to leave Mongkul Borey district within the next 3 days.” Ang Chanrith, the chairman of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Huma Rights Defense Organziation (KKHRO) said that his organization is currently doing research and trying to find a mean to legally help the four monks. Ang Chanrith said: “Right now, the venerable is at my office, and I am interviewing him, and asking him everything about the accusations and the charges leveled against him by the pagoda committee and the local authority which chased the venerable out. We need to know these details first, then we will take the appropriate measures to ask the intervention from the institution or ministry involved, so that they help resolve this issue and so that the four venerable can continue to stay in their pagoda, or to find a safe place at another pagoda for the monks to stay.” The Wat O’Andoung pagoda committee could not be contacted to ask questions about the accusations they leveled against the monks. Suon Bun Thoeun, an official of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), indicated that human rights organizations in the Banteay Meanchey province, including Licadho, Adhoc and CCHR have cooperated to pursue a detailed research on this issue. Suon Bun Thoeun said: “Right now, we are doing research, there are 3-4 organizations, including Khmer Krom organizations, Adhoc, Licadho. They will make another visit in order to meet them one more time.” Recently, former Monk Tim Sakhorn, a native of Kampuchea Krom who stayed in Takeo province, and was a pagoda abbot, was deported to Vietnam to be sentenced there. This action led to safety concerns among other Khmer Krom monks because they are afraid that accusations would be leveled them, charging them of undertaking activities that are against Buddhism rules.