By Serey Chau When people visit San Francisco, they usually just want to visit China Town, the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge or Peer 39. What most people do not realize that it is a historical place that in which United Nations Charter Signing Ceremony was conducted. This significant event happened in a place called “Herbst Theatre” which forms part of the War Memorial Performing Arts Center and across the street from San Francisco City Hall on Van Ness Avenue. (Left image: Venerable Ratana Son and Joshua Cooper holds up sign seeking the release of Venerable Tim Sakhorn) The United Nations Charter is a treaty that established the United Nations. It was signed at the United Nations Conference on International Organization at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 by the 50 of the 51 original member countries (Poland was not at the conference but signed it later). It entered into force on October 24, 1945. All the members of the UN are bound by its Articles. As stated in the Article 1 of the UN Charter, one of the purposes of the United Nations is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;” Equal rights and self-determination are the main keywords which were first mentioned at the international level and which formed an important foundation to develop the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.
Khmer Krom people and monks march to voice out their concerns on behalf of their voiceless people
In September 20, 1977 Vietnam became a member of the United Nations. As member of the UN, Vietnam must obligate the UN charter as stated in Article 4: “Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”
Khmer Krom marches for human rights and religious freedom in their homeland of Kampuchea-Krom
Unfortunately, it appears that Vietnam does not fully appreciate or adheres to the obligation of the UN Charter. Vietnam attempts to justify its human rights violations and oppression towards the Khmer Krom people and other indigenous groups by stating it is an internal affair and the world should leave it as. The Khmers Kampuchea-Federation (KKF) Chapter in Northern California and the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights has organized a Peace March in San Francisco to commemorate the UN Charter on June 26 for the last three years. This event was also very important for the members of KKF to learn how to exercise their rights to demand for the fundamental freedom on behalf of their voiceless Khmer Krom people in Kampuchea Krom. Such an event acts to remind Vietnam of its obligation and duty as a member of the UN to respect the rights to self-determination of all its peoples. In 2006, only the Khmers Kampuchea-Federation (KKF) Chapter in Northern California and the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights (HIHR) sponsored this event. In 2007, the United Nations Association USA and Amnesty International USA joined and sponsored the march. In 2008, just two days before the march, the International Forum on Globalization decided to sponsor the March. This year, the Honorable Gavin Newsom, Mayor City and County of San Francisco issued an important Proclamation on June 26 2008 to recognize United Nations Chapter Day in San Francisco. The Proclamation recognized the important of having KKF, HIHR, United Nations Association USA, and Amnesty International USA to sponsor an annual march and conference on human rights.
Proclamation by Gavin Newsom, Mayor City and County of San Francisco issued an important Proclamation on June 26 2008 to recognize United Nations Chapter Day in San Francisco