KKF Attends Democracy Service Medal Ceremony to Ambassador Max Kampelman

Three members from the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), Mr. Prak Sereivuth, Mr. Thach Lenny, and Mr. Duong Hoang, were honored to be invited by the National Endownment for Democracy to attend the Banquet Reception during the presentation of the Democracy Service Medal to Ambassador Max Kampelman at the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC on Thursday, May 22, 2008 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Left: Prak Sereivuth, Thach Lenny, Ambassador Max Kampelman, and Duong Hoang
There were about 200 guests who attended that special event, among them were high ranking U.S. Government officials, diplomats, members of the U.S. Congress, and other foreign dignitaries. Below is a partial list of these VIP guests:

  • The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, U.S. Senator
  • The Honorable Howard Berman, U.S. Congressman
  • The Honorable Josh Bolten, White House Chief-of-Staff
  • The Honorable John D. Negroponte, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
  • The Honorable Paula J. Dobriansky, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
  • The Honorable Richard Solomon, Former U.S. Assistant
  • Secretary of State on East Asia and Pacific Affairs during President George H.W. Bush’s Administration (1989-1992)
  • The Honorable James Hadley Billington, Librarian of the U.S. Congress
  • The Honorable Vin Weber, Chairman of the National Endownment for Democracy
  • The Honorable Carl Gershman, President of the National Endownment for Democracy

During this banquet reception, the three KKF members, Sereivuth, Lenny, and Hoang, were able to mention briefly to some of these American government officials about the current situation of the Khmer Krom people who live under the oppression of the Communist regime of Vietnam in the Mekong River Delta. The KKF representatives told officials that the Khmer Krom people used to serve bravely, courageously, and loyally with the U.S. Special Forces in numerous top classified operations behind the lines of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese troops along the Ho Chi Minh trails in Laos and in Cambodia. From the fall of Saigon in April 1975 until today, the Communist Vietnamese Government still keeps slaughtering us to seek revenges for our close colaboration and loyalty with the U.S. Green Berets during the war. These American dignitaries expressed their sympathy for the tragedy of the Khmer Krom people and some of them told the KKF represenatives that they will take a close look into their case.

Left: Thach Lenny, Duong Hoang, The Honorable Paula Dobriansky, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
From Left: Duong Hoang, Mr. Carl Gershman, President of the National Endownment for Democracy, Prak Sereivuth and Thach Lenny

KKF Appeal for Religious Freedom in Vietnam

United Nations Day of Vesak Appeal by KKF To whom it may concern, On behalf of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, we would like to bring to your attention the issue of our Khmer Krom Buddhist monks Venerable TT Dhammo,from Ontario, Canada and Venerable Rong Be, from California, USA. were denied entry to participate at the United Nations Day of Vesak which falls on 13 May to 17 May in Hanoi, Vietnam. For the last five years, our Khmer Krom Buddhist monks residing in USA have been actively participating at this event. However, this year, we are not given such an opportunity. The Mekong Delta is home to over 25,000 Khmer Krom Buddhist monks. The teaching of Buddhism plays an important role in the lives of our Khmer Krom people. Buddhism teaches and guides our very way of life and our moral beliefs. It lays the foundation of our culture and society, to be fair, honest and truthful in everything we do. Since Vietnam’s accession into the World Trade Organisation on 11 January 2007, its government has arbitatily arrested and imprisoned several Khmer Krom Buddhist monks for organising and participating in peaceful demonstrations. Currently, there are six former Khmer Krom Buddhist monks imprisoned in Vietnam.

From Left to Right:Kim Muon (born 1985), Danh Tol (born 1981), Ly Suong (born 1975), Ly Hoang (born 1986), and Thach Thuong (born 1982). There are former Buddhist monks participated in peaceful demonstration to demand religious rights in Soc Trang province. Tim Sakhorn, former Abbot of North Phnom Denh temple, Phnom Denh Village, Karivong District, Takeo Province, Cambodia faces trial in Vietnam.
The religious congregations of Khmer Krom indigenous people suffer severe abuses because of actions by Vietnam , which have included forced renunciations of faith, identifying our monk as having no religion on identification card, the arrest and harassment of abbots, the withholding of social programs provided for the general population, confiscation and destruction of properties, and subjection of severe beatings. The Khmer Krom Buddhists suffer persecutions as the Government of Vietnam continues to restrict contacts and movement of senior monks for refusing to join the state-sponsored Buddhist organizations. Vietnam continues to place Khmer Krom leaders under `pagoda’ and house arrest, destroy temple property and harass, threaten and intimidate local Khmer Krom Buddhist monks. On behalf of our defendless Khmer Krom Buddhist monks, we appeal for your support to urge the Vietnamese government to unconditionally release all the Khmer Krom political and religious prisoners, including the five Buddhist monks at a prison in Soc Trang Province and Abbot Tim Sakhorn who was arrested from Cambodia and now imprisoned in An Giang Province of Vietnam. Yours sincerely, Thach Ngoc Thach Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation President

KKF Attends Hearing on Human Rights Conditions in Vietnam and Suggestions for the U.S

WASHINGTON D.C. – On May 14 2008, members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, Mr. Sereivuth Prak and Mr. Lenny Thach headed to Washington DC to attend the U.S. Congressional Caucus on the Hearing on “Human Rights Conditions in Vietnam and Suggestions for the U.S. — Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue.” The first Panel heard Commissioner Leonard A. Leo testified before the Congressional Caucus regarding restrictions on the freedom of religion by the Vietnam government. He recommended that Vietnam be reinstated on the list of “country of particular concern,” or CPC in its 2008 Annual Report. The Hearing was chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, and was attended by Reps. Tom Davis (R-VA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ). The second Panel consisted of Mr. Do Hoang Diem, Chairman, Mr. Viet Tan, and Dr. Binh Nguyen Co-Chair of the Non-Violent Movement for Democracy in Vietnam and Mr. Tammy Tran, President of the Vietnamese Alliance to Combat Trafficking (VietACT). Commissioner Leonard A. Leo spoke on the following items: – Vietnamese Human Rights Dialogue – Prisoner Releases – The Revision of Laws to Reflect International Human Rights Standard – Protecting Independent Religious Practice – The Training of Government Officials – Asylum and Refugee Issue According to Lenny Thach, both Panels commented substantially on Khmer Krom issues in Vietnam. One commented on “the disappearance of a Khmer Buddhist monk who refused to defrocked novice monks participating in February 2007 demonstrations against religious freedom restrictions”. Another stated, “On April 9th, the Vietnamese police force ruthlessly dispersed the demonstration of the Khmer Krom people in the An Giang province who were demanding the return of their confiscated land”. It was recommended that Vietnam be reinstated as a ‘Country of Particular Concern” (CPC). By reinstating Vietnam, the world will see that the Vietnamese government strictly control and limits news media and continues to persistently abuse and discriminate people based on their religion and beliefs. Participants of the conference reaffirmed the need of US Congress to help urge Vietnam to respect all peoples living within their borders and provide their basic fundamental freedoms and rights.

Khmer Krom Buddhist Monks Denied Entry to Visak Festival in Hanoi

By Mao Sotheany Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Socheata Orginally posted on KI Media Thach Ngoc Thach, President of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) in the world, reacted to the fact that the Vietnamese government did not allow Khmer Kampuchea Krom representatives to participate in the Visak Bochea (Visakha) celebration in Hanoi. Thach Ngoc Thach, President of the US-based KKF, expressed his reaction on Sunday to the fact that the Vietnamese government did not authorize Khmer Kampuchea Krom representatives to participate in the Visak Bochea celebration in Hanoi between 13 and 17 May. It is expected that 3,500 people from 80 countries will participate in this Buddhist celebration. Thach Ngoc Thach told RFA’s Mao Sotheany about the reason why Khmer Kampuchea Krom representative could participate in this celebration. Thach Ngoc Thach (KKF): This is different from the celebration in New York where several nations, including Khmer Krom people used to participate very year, and Khmer Krom monks always receive the honor to start the religious praying at the Untied Nations. However, this year, the (UN) celebration is held in Hanoi instead. A number of ethnic people do not have a country of their own, this is one issue. The second issue, for countries that do not have close relationship with the Vietnamese government, they are not allowed to participate in the celebration, unlike the previous years, therefore, these people did not receive an invitation. Furthermore, even Vietnamese Buddhists from overseas are not invited to attend the celebration either. Tibetan monks who always participated every year, this year, they were not invited either. Therefore, we see here a discrimination made through the invitation denial, Vietnam invited only who they please. Mao Sotheany (RFA): In your name as the KKF president in the US, what else will you do, because I am really puzzled that the UN could not intervene so that the KKF can participate. KKF: For this issue, we met with the Religious affair of the US Department of State two weeks ago already. We informed them, this is why we saw the US Department of State issuing a declaration, as well as the Human Rights Watch, in order to pressure the Vietnamese government, this is one thing. Secondly, we prepared a letter to send to (UN) religious affair department in Geneva, to inform them. Furthermore, we are cooperating with other nations, such as Buddhist Tibetans, overseas Vietnamese, to protest about this issue. Therefore, I foresee that there will be pushes made from all directions: one to push the UN to find a venue location where all Buddhists in the world can participate in. RFA: I want to ask you: what is the benefit of participating in the Visak Bochea celebration in Hanoi where a large number of Buddhists in the world cannot join in, what is its importance? KKF: First, this is very important for Buddhists. Secondly, the other importance is that we are protesting about the religious pressure imposed by the Vietnamese government on religious belief. At that occasion, we and the international committee will see clearly that the Vietnamese government action, based on (international) convention or based on its own declaration to allow freedom rights, in fact, the Vietnamese government only talked about them, but in reality, it is the opposite. There, the international community will clearly sees it. Another issue, is the fact that this is a Vietnamese government’s trick to hide itself by claiming that it is a country fully opened, that was why this International celebration is allowed to take place next week. I believe that, now, the International community and the UN, in particular, will clearly see the Vietnamese government treachery. I also received information from Kampuchea Krom that police officers are conducting surveillance in every pagoda because they are afraid that Khmer Krom and Vietnamese monks may demonstrate during this celebration in Hanoi next week. RFA: I want to ask you also about the Visak Bochea celebration, which earlier you said that it was held at the UN office in New York. Since when such celebration was held? KKF: I do not remember when it started, but the KKF participated in this celebration in the past 5 years. RFA: From the US, is there any group participating in this celebration in Hanoi? KKF: By what I understand, the US religion department asked to participate, but even for them, they were not invited either. Human Rights Watch also asked to join in, they were denied also, and Khmer Krom monks asked to join also, but we didn’t receive any invitation.

Khmer Krom Buddhist Monks Denied Entry to Visak Festival in Hanoi

By Mao Sotheany Radio Free Asia Translated from Khmer by Socheata Orginally posted on KI Media Thach Ngoc Thach, President of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) in the world, reacted to the fact that the Vietnamese government did not allow Khmer Kampuchea Krom representatives to participate in the Visak Bochea (Visakha) celebration in Hanoi. Thach Ngoc Thach, President of the US-based KKF, expressed his reaction on Sunday to the fact that the Vietnamese government did not authorize Khmer Kampuchea Krom representatives to participate in the Visak Bochea celebration in Hanoi between 13 and 17 May. It is expected that 3,500 people from 80 countries will participate in this Buddhist celebration. Thach Ngoc Thach told RFA’s Mao Sotheany about the reason why Khmer Kampuchea Krom representative could participate in this celebration. Thach Ngoc Thach (KKF): This is different from the celebration in New York where several nations, including Khmer Krom people used to participate very year, and Khmer Krom monks always receive the honor to start the religious praying at the Untied Nations. However, this year, the (UN) celebration is held in Hanoi instead. A number of ethnic people do not have a country of their own, this is one issue. The second issue, for countries that do not have close relationship with the Vietnamese government, they are not allowed to participate in the celebration, unlike the previous years, therefore, these people did not receive an invitation. Furthermore, even Vietnamese Buddhists from overseas are not invited to attend the celebration either. Tibetan monks who always participated every year, this year, they were not invited either. Therefore, we see here a discrimination made through the invitation denial, Vietnam invited only who they please. Mao Sotheany (RFA): In your name as the KKF president in the US, what else will you do, because I am really puzzled that the UN could not intervene so that the KKF can participate. KKF: For this issue, we met with the Religious affair of the US Department of State two weeks ago already. We informed them, this is why we saw the US Department of State issuing a declaration, as well as the Human Rights Watch, in order to pressure the Vietnamese government, this is one thing. Secondly, we prepared a letter to send to (UN) religious affair department in Geneva, to inform them. Furthermore, we are cooperating with other nations, such as Buddhist Tibetans, overseas Vietnamese, to protest about this issue. Therefore, I foresee that there will be pushes made from all directions: one to push the UN to find a venue location where all Buddhists in the world can participate in. RFA: I want to ask you: what is the benefit of participating in the Visak Bochea celebration in Hanoi where a large number of Buddhists in the world cannot join in, what is its importance? KKF: First, this is very important for Buddhists. Secondly, the other importance is that we are protesting about the religious pressure imposed by the Vietnamese government on religious belief. At that occasion, we and the international committee will see clearly that the Vietnamese government action, based on (international) convention or based on its own declaration to allow freedom rights, in fact, the Vietnamese government only talked about them, but in reality, it is the opposite. There, the international community will clearly sees it. Another issue, is the fact that this is a Vietnamese government’s trick to hide itself by claiming that it is a country fully opened, that was why this International celebration is allowed to take place next week. I believe that, now, the International community and the UN, in particular, will clearly see the Vietnamese government treachery. I also received information from Kampuchea Krom that police officers are conducting surveillance in every pagoda because they are afraid that Khmer Krom and Vietnamese monks may demonstrate during this celebration in Hanoi next week. RFA: I want to ask you also about the Visak Bochea celebration, which earlier you said that it was held at the UN office in New York. Since when such celebration was held? KKF: I do not remember when it started, but the KKF participated in this celebration in the past 5 years. RFA: From the US, is there any group participating in this celebration in Hanoi? KKF: By what I understand, the US religion department asked to participate, but even for them, they were not invited either. Human Rights Watch also asked to join in, they were denied also, and Khmer Krom monks asked to join also, but we didn’t receive any invitation.

Indigenous Peoples Groups Demand Right to Speak at United Nations

Story By David M. Kinchen Huntingtonnews.net Editor New York, NY (HNN) — Last week, Indigenous Peoples put pressure on the chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, demanding to have the right to speak on the recommendations of the Permanent Forum. At the end of its two-week conference at the United Nations Headquarters, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) said the World Bank funding for carbon trading had set “good examples” for partnership with Indigenous Peoples. The protesting Indigenous peoples disrupted the start of the meeting, and refused to sit down, shouting in Spanish “La palabra”, and in English “we want to speak”. The protesters requested the elimination of paragraphs 5 and 37 of the document E/C.19/2008/L.2, saying Indigenous Peoples recommendations had generally not been reflected in most of the Forum’s final documents on Climate change, the theme for the 7th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). “This is not our Forum, it doesn’t reflect our opinions,” shouted one of the protesters. “It was a loud and very assertive effort, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, the chair of the Forum did not want to recognize the speakers for the South American Indigenous Caucus,” said Arthur Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation of British Columbia, Canada. “The effort of the Indigenous Peoples to be heard resulted in U.N. Security try to remove an Indigenous Elder from the room, The situation got very tense until the UN Security were asked to leave the Permanent Forum Assembly Room because their involvement only intensified the situation,” added Manuel. “We are the Ongeh-Huh-Weh people, the real people of Mother Earth — you have to listen to us,” shouted Douglas Anderson down from the the upper level of the plenary room, before U.N. Security officers moved in to forcibly remove him from the conference room. “I did not resist when they pulled and pushed me towards the door, but I asked the U.N. security officers to show me the law that we cannot speak at our Forum. I was worried what will happen next, I knew that the Indigenous Peoples would not allow this to happen, I feared a erruption of violence, don’t forget, most of us deal with this type of police oppression back home on a daily bases,” added Anderson, from upstate New York, Tuscarora, 6 Nations Iroquois Confederacy. It was a dramatic moment when Rocio Velanda-Calle, one of the few persons standing at the upper level, rushed to Mr. Anderson’s rescue, while the Indigenous Peoples at the lower level of the room shouted in shock, anger and objection to the actions of the U.N. Security forces. Most indigenous peoples attending the forum felt unable to participate. “We Indigenous Peoples had to make a stand to be heard at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues – the lack of real participation is a complete contradiction of the very existence of the Forum,” said Mrs. Velanda –Calle after the U.N. security officers were ordered to leave the room. “Our views and recommendations were neglected by the so-called experts, the members of the Permanent Forum, and the Chairperson,” she added. “The Forum tried to make recommendations serving the World Bank and the interests of corporations and states, not ours,” added. Anderson “We come here from around the world , people spend money, sleep on the street because they cannot afford to pay the hotel costs, they devote their time and money to have a voice, but now we all see, it is not our Forum, it became a business.” Most Indigenous Peoples are resisting oil, gas and coal exploitation and so called “good practices” such as carbon trading — this were not addressed in the final text of the PFII, the opposite, the text claimed that we are all for it” said Thach Thach, from the Khmer Krom people, from southern Vietnam. “We agree with our brothers and sisters from the south, who had the courage to stand up against the Forum. The carbon trading programs – energy companies and others that release greenhouse gases can buy the right to keep polluting, we don’t want that.” “There are many grievances — just this year the Permanent Forum announced new rules, so called guidelines, which are hindering Indigenous Peoples to show films or videos at the Forums side events. Now, films can only be screened, if sponsored by a government, ” said Rebecca Sommer, from the Society for Threatened Peoples International. “These new UNPFII rules are raising serious questions in our human rights circles, they are, in our view, in contradiction with Article 19, of the Universal Human Rights Declaration.” “We understand that the 16 PFII experts are independent, their Report is based on their personal views and decided by consensus,” said Andrea Carmen, the executive director of International Indian Treaty Council, a NGO in consultative status to the UN. Carmen added: “The Report did not reflected key aspects of what the Indigenous Peoples actually said on this issue. During the two-week session, there was such a overwhelming opposition expressed, including by the Global Indigenous Caucus, against these market based so called solutions.” Carmen added: “Instead they have a huge impact on our human rights. In the future, we need to work with the PFII members to ensure that the Report will accurately reflect the input of the nearly 2000 participants, to avoid problems like this in the future.” After numerous attempts to reject the right to speak to the Caucus, and the growing anger coming from the plenary rooms attendees, the Chair, Victoria Taulu-Corpuz, finally gave the floor to the Caucus Indigenas de Abya Yala, represented by Florina Lopez. Lopez said on behalf of the South American Caucus, that, despite the oral amendments to document E/C.19/2008/L.2 as read by the Forum Rapporteur, the text did not reflect the concerns of Indigenous Peoples about emissions and deforestation. The list of recommendations it contained would reflected the opinions of the UNPFII’s experts and not the positions of indigenous peoples. As a result, the UNPFF included lukewarm amendments to the text, this would not have happened, if we would not have stood up and demanded our rights,” said Rocio Velanda-Calle.”We should never forget that, we must continue to stand up for our rights, and are not to be intimidated” Source:http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/080509-kinchen-columnsindigenouspeoples.html