UNPFII Fifth Session Item 3: Intervention by Permanent Members

Interventions by Board of Permanent Forum Members
Wednesday 17th May 2006

Willie Littlechild

I am encouraged in dialogue with states. We have not had adequate times to exchange views. I want to begin with the last presentation. I want to give own personal congratulations with her recognition by Spain. Thank you to Spain. In the order of presentation, let me begin with Sami parliament and Norway. Their first sentence, I will quote, My delegation would like to emphasize that a rights based approach is fundamental to reach the MDGs. I also want to combine with Greenland. The strategy they are taking is a rights-based approach and strengthen the right of SD of Ips as a basic instrument for defining human rights in international context. Then look at the Rio group and thank them for admonishing us.

PFII should not only highlight shortcoming but also to advocate for debt relief. Yesterday, we had an intervention by indigenous woman or global caucus and they referred to debt. They commented the greatest debt is owed to Ips as stated in SR. With the Vietnamese intervention in their concluding remarks are quite aggressive in rejecting all groundless information. I am wondering if that takes into account the position of some delegations previous to this aspect of self-identification and a direct argument against as well. Now, I can move toward a positive statement because it fits my line.

Fiji looks forward to the adoption of the DRIP later this year. Which brings me toUS/AUS/NZ. I want to express a reservation. I want to come back to this under Agenda Item 4. I want to come back to it but for the time being with the greatest respect. One of our elders would say them are fighting words. The joint intervention states articulating SD is a misrepresentation of this right. What it does is recognize and affirm existing inherent rights. As to creating potential instability, again I would beg to differ. From a different perspective it has the potential for partnership much in line with Sami parliament intervention when he calls and reflects on expert seminar in Nuuk. If I can quote from him. The rights of UN DRIP underscores full and effective participation. Once the DRIP is adopted, it can be partnership.

I asked for a legal opinion on consensus. We did receive it. A part of our mandate calls on us to have consensus as a rule of procedure. Look at that definition. In my view and like others I have been on this matter since 1977. I have been involved since 1975 when the first declaration and the rights and duties of principles. We do have consensus based on UN definition. UN calls on states to express a reservation but that does not mean we don’t have consensus. About the DRIP undermining human rights, it is a potential for Ips to catch up with the rest of the world. The words that this declaration as artificial and irrelevant. I would have to juxtapose that many states and scholars would disagree and counter it with legal arguments not just a statement like this. I want to hold until next week with a legal argument. The situation of Ips in some countries is worrisome. I would worry indeed in those countries. I save the best for last. Now, I challenge Canada to take a new active role to being elected to the new HR Council. Will you be prepared to move for adoption in the new HR council

Ortilla
We want to hear governments talk about direct programs to eliminate hunger and inequity for our peoples which fall to the youth, children and women. We want to hear about better cooperation and coordination of their activities. I think all of us would focus on environmental sustainability. It was interesting to hear the transparency in the US/AUS/NZ. All of us sitting here have noted that we must begin an exhaustive analysis of colonial and historical of why there is inequity. We created this forum to speak to UNESCO and UN so it can elaborate policies to redress these inequalities. We the Ips want to reestablish our countries in the framework of human rights and the rule of law. We don’t want to be divided. We wish to reestablish publics on a shared vision of an indigenous and non-indigenous vision. What we need is the vision of indigenous because we are subjects of international law. We have sought to have our natural resources respected as well. All of this represents life and true equity in our states. So, it is worthwhile globalizing a number of values for respect, coexistence in the spirit
of justice and peace.

William Langeveldt
With all due respect to these three states, I wish to speak as a Korana from S. Africa. The plight and suffering of my ancestors. Colonization was the mother of all debt. It destroyed so many communities that were alienated from their way of life. Slavery shaped colonial societies imposing master/slave relationship based on skin color. I do not know. What have they been cooing for the last 300 – 400 years. Lands and resources stolen from IPS must eventually be returned. Collective rights are what Ips are about. We share everything equally among ourselves. It is our indigenous way of life. I call upon all of the governments of the world to ratify the rights of Ips.

Oppaluk

It is important that Norway and Denmark have their Ips speak on their behalf. Both Norway and Sami are represented by Johan. I thank you both for your interventions. More states should do so. I look forward to the future in the work you are doing. I look forward to the work in your countries. Global association of indigenous parliamentarians. I hope the indigenous parliamentarians would talk on this initiative with the parliament present here. I thank the governments for the full support of indigenous peoples. You have shown such an exemplary manner in dealing with indigenous issues. It was a surprising intervention by the US/NZ/AUS. I support the comments made by other members of the PFII especially Willie Littlechild. I also hope we will have discussion when we have the opportunity to discuss on Monday. Johan said on behalf of Greenland/Denmark. The strategy of rights based approach is the overall way to strengthen the rights of Ips to define indigenous rights in national and international context. This is one of the most distinguished comments and a dignified manner to discuss with Ips.

Pasharam
Is Vietnam going to recognize Ips. I would like to ask how they are treating ethnic minorities as Ips or in other ways. Particular their comment in the last. If States are behaving in such a way here toward its own people. How do you think the problems will be resolved? This is the time we need to reconcile the conflict. I think Vietnam should think about solving the problem in the country.

Country is ours but their state is not ours. This is the time we need to change this phrase. Country is ours as well as state is ours. If the states re not going to recognize the rights of Ips as different peoples that is the challenge to the entire civilizations. I call upon all states to support the DRIP unconditionally.

Terriorities, Lands and Natural Resources by Romy Thach (2)

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
14-25 May 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Special Theme: Territories, Lands and Natural Resources
Speaker: Romy Thach

Madame Chair,

We would like to congratulate you on your reelection as chair of the UNPFII. We also would like to thank you for visiting our community in exile at the temple in Cambodia in February. Our people that have been forced from our homelands were pleased to meet a member of the international community that cares about our struggle for self-determination.

We will begin with recommendations to ensure our connection to our sacred homelands in the face of dire circumstances denying our identity.

  • KKF seeks the assistance of the United Nations mechanisms for conflict prevention and reconciliation to encourage Vietnam’s recognition of the Khmer Krom people as the indigenous peoples of Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Without doing so, we feel that Vietnam does not fully appreciate the importance of land for the basic survival of the Khmer Krom people.
  • Request the assistance of IOM to work with the Vietnam government to initiate programs to resolve land claims and ensure that the indigenous Khmer Krom people are compensated for their lost of farmlands as well as a return to own land. There are many land claims since 1970. Ask for return of our ancestral lands and properties that were unlawfully taken away by the State and by the Vietnamese newcomers.
  • Ask that Vietnam adopt a national act to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples in Vietnam to their traditional lands and territories specifically the Khmer Krom people as the indigenous peoples linked historically and spiritually to the Mekong Delta. Create and implement non-discriminatory indigenous land laws that respect and protects the lands of the Khmer Krom people and prevent further acts of illegal land grabbing by Vietnamese authorities.
  • Ask that IFAD fund a project to allow Khmer Krom farmers to return to their fields to produce traditional foods for their community. Canal projects that allow salt water into fresh water rice farming area must be stopped immediately to avoid destroying more of Khmer Krom’s land.
  • Request the assistance of UNITAR to provide essential training for the Asia region to enhance conflict resolutions and peace building capabilities between governments and indigenous peoples.
  • Seek the assistance of UNDP to promote and ensure that the indigenous peoples are presented in all decision making for positive programs focusing on reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals for the Khmer people
  • Seek the support of international agencies such as FAO and WHO to provide assistance to examine polluted land to determine its source that has caused thousands of blind farmers and to return the farmers to their traditional land to provide the fundamental nutrition for our peoples. Ask that Vietnam start implementing more effective local systems of monitoring the use of pesticides and their damage to the ecosystem in our homeland.
  • Ask that UNESCO help preserve the sacred sites for all of humanity to share under the UNESCO World Heritage program. One of the first locations that immediately needs protection to preserve Sambua Rangsey temple which was built in 373AD at Tra Khao commune, Hoa An Village, Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province.
  • Billions of dollars of profit from oil and natural gas extraction in our homeland and our sea at Ocap (renamed Vung Tau) province must cease going to the multinational corporations and corrupt state agencies and develop a program that ensures the collective economic well being of the Khmer communities’ standard of living.
  • Ask that Vietnam start recognize and implement the policy of free, prior and informed consent when implementing programs that encourages participation and consultation with the local Khmer-Krom on all future development projects which take place in their homeland.

Madame Chair, we are convinced that the above measures will improve the living conditions of the Khmer Krom people living under extreme poverty. Such recommendations will help Vietnam achieve Millennium Development goals.

Lastly, we would like to reaffirm our support for the adoption of the Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you.

Item 7: Urbanization and Migration of indigenous peoples

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Joint Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Item 7: Urbanization and Migration of indigenous peoples
Speaker: Sothy Kien

Madame Chair, 

Today’s agenda focusing on specific region of Asia and theme of Urbanization is a great opportunity to meet the aspirations of this forum to increase positive dialogue between the actors to protect human rights in partnership and meet the MDGs for our people.

While we know we have differences with the government, we desire a dialogue. We will practice our spiritual beliefs of compassion to agree to the proposed meeting between Vietnam and KKF.

We also agree with the inclusion of SR Stavenhagen as the government was responding to his report. If UNPFII chair Tauli-Corpuz can also assist, we believe we could arrange a series of dialogues that allow for us to return to the 7th UNPFII session with some positive direction to secure the fundamental freedoms in Asia, specifically in Kampuchea Krom of Vietnam.

Madame Chair, item 7 attaches significant for the Khmer Krom people as majority of our people are from the
rural areas of Vietnam. Traditionally farmers, the rich fertile Mekong delta has provided an essential source of food and survival for the indigenous Khmer Krom people. Recent canals projects initiated by Vietnam authorities have destroyed much of the rice fields by channeling salt water into fresh water farming, forcing thousands to abandon their home and
migrate to already crowded cities.

Like a domino affect, elevated levels of poverty, lack of education and landlessness has resulted in many Khmer
Krom women and young girls getting caught with trafficking rings and finding employment that violate their
culture and traditional lifestyles. We would like to recommend the following:

▪ Request that Vietnam consult indigenous peoples before creating canals projects on their ancestral lands by
the use of free and informed consent.
▪ Ask Vietnam to adopt the ILO 169 Convention to ensure the protection of Khmer Krom and Degar people
and in recognition of their vulnerability and poverty.
▪ Seek the assistance of UN-HABITAT to create initiatives to help provide adequate shelter and housing for
homeless Khmer Krom.
▪ Ask that Vietnam establish and implement national laws to protect lands of indigenous peoples from further
illegal land grabbing.
▪ Ask that Vietnam start taking serious and immediately actions to process land claims by indigenous peoples.
▪ Seek the help of Permanent Forum members to urge Vietnam to recognize the importance of the sacred
homeland of Kampuchea Krom to the Khmer Krom people. Also, that Vietnam work in collaboration with UN
agencies to recognize that the further taking of land results in the negative direction of indicators for the livelihood of indigenous peoples. Recognizing land and prevention of migration would assist Vietnam in reaching the
8 MDGs and also its obligation of human rights protection and promotion under international laws.

Madame Chair, Vietnam continues to deny the truth of our statement, in that regards, we would like to urge
Vietnam to read the latest report on the Church of Asia, UNPO, US commission on International Religious Freedom for the latest violation against the Khmer Krom people.

It is our sincere hope today will be a turning point in which a series of dialogues can happen so that the voice of
our peoples can be heard.

Thank You

 

UNPFII: Future Works

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 9: Future Work
Joint Statement of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation

Speaker: Soda Luu

Madame Chair,

We are particular pleased with the development of Monday‘s half day session on Asia as it provided a great opportunity for the indigenous organizations, experts and governments alike to have a dialogue on issues that specifically affects us. One issue that remains a major obstacle for indigenous groups in South East Asia, such as Vietnam is the lack of recognition by governments of our claim as indigenous peoples.

We are encouraged by the comment of Special Rapporteur Mr. Stavenhagen in urging the government of Vietnam to accept the human rights situation and start using the readily available human rights instruments and mechanism to resolve such serious issues, including the recommendations by our indigenous organizations. Mr. Stavenhagen also encouraged the government of Vietnam to respond to his letters when he sends them asking for clarification on human rights situation in indigenous communities of Vietnam.

In light of the forum’s future work, we would like to propose the following recommendation:

  • Ask that all governments, especially the Asian governments to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a sign of their long term commitment and respect for indigenous peoples.
  • Ask that the special focus on a half day on Asia continue in next year’s session to emphasize further focus on finding solutions for successful implementation of MDGs with the full participation of indigenous peoples.
  • To have a special session to determine how far the MDGs have been reached. For example, instead of giving missionary statements, we would like the government of Vietnam to provide a more specific and concrete report on the progress of the MDGs and how indigenous peoples, if any are collaboratively involved.
  • Ask that the Permanent Forum selects the special theme be climate change. At a recent United Nations University conference at UN Headquarters “Environmental Refugees: The Forgotten Migrants”, Joanos Boardi, Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security noted that if the temperature increases and the water level rises, the Mekong Delta will be one foot underwater. Therefore, we believe this imminent issue should be the focus for the 7th session of the UNPFII as it attaches great importance to our peoples. We also ask to build on the work at the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples focusing on climate change and human rights.
  • Request the help of the Permanent Forum members and Madame Chair to help set up a series of meeting with KKF, Montagnard Foundation and the Vietnam government so that we may begin the process of identifying our indigenous peoples in their respective areas. Only through such dialogue can the needs of our indigenous peoples become visible and the achievement of the MDGs become a collaborative effort by all.

For the last four years, Vietnam has adamantly denied our positive contribution to the Forum and rejected all our information regarding human rights violation as “groundless information” and accused us of having a political agenda. Our only agenda is human rights.

We encourage the government of Vietnam to exercise the spirit of compassion towards our people especially towards our Buddhist monks who are thirsty for justice and peace and the right to self determination.

Thank you.

Item 4g: Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – English

Sixth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 4g: Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Joint Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
& Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Romy Thach
Tuesday 23 May 2007

Madame Chair,
Thank you for allowing me to speak. The objectives of the MDGs are the main focus of this forum. Our people continue to live in extreme poverty, often forgotten because of their ethnic background and geographic location. Very little know the existence of MDGs let alone be an active participant in identifying their needs from an indigenous perspective.

We believe that the main problem which arises is the issue of assistance to the zones mostly affected and should not be discriminatory against indigenous or ethnic peoples concerned.

If Vietnam wants to achieve MDGs, we would like to propose the following recommendations:

  • Reiterate our request that Vietnam recognize the Khmer Krom people and Degar people are the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands respectively.
  • On the conclusion of the first decade and in preparation of the second decade ask the Vietnam government to invite UN Special Rapporteur on Health, Education and Human Rights to determine the real situation at the ground level.
  • Ask that Vietnam with the help of the Permanent Forum to establish a series of meeting and dialogues to establish a working partnership with our organizations to ensure that the needs of indigenous peoples are well represented.
  • Strongly urge Vietnam to initiate a review of national legislation to incorporate indigenous laws that recognizes the Khmer Krom people and the Montagnard people as the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta region and of Central Highlands respectively.
  • Reaffirm the need of Vietnam to incorporate indigenous tradition learning system, especially in the Khmer and Degar languages into formal and informal education in all areas. The ceremonies punctuating the life of our people should not be ignored at the school.
  • Ask that Vietnam work in collaboration with our indigenous organization and NGOs such as UNESCO and CEDAW to create a series of workshops to educate about their basic rights and fundamental freedoms including women’s rights.

Madame Chair, as reported by numerous non governmental organizations in recent days, the lack of recognition of indigenous peoples by government such as Vietnam poses a great barrier for a collaborative achievement of the MDGs. Vietnam’s one way policies prevents the important work of our organizations to increase the knowledge and access of our people to readily available human rights mechanisms. Rather than foster an environment in which we can collaborate collectively, Vietnam has always rejected our suggestions even at the international level.

It has now been four years since Vietnam rejects our positive contribution to the Permanent Forum. We believe for the mutual interest of our indigenous peoples that we start working together to better the lives of our indigenous peoples.

For that reason, we believe that the earlier the work takes place, the earlier our people can benefit from such measurements adapted to their needs.

Vietnam Cancels Khmer Krom Side Event at UNPFII

In true communist style, the Vietnam government representatives have cancelled a side event organized by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation to screen Rebecca Sommer’s film entitled, “Eliminated without bleeding” to be held on 23nd May 2007.

Detailing the heart breaking story and struggle of the Khmer Krom people in Kampuchea-Krom, the documentary is the first of its kind to portray the startling reality of indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta.

Yesterday, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation received correspondence from Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stating that Vietnam has issued a formal complaint to cancel the side event on the basis of having two scheduled screening of two films on UN premises on 22 May (“Hunted like Animals”)and on 23 May (Eliminated without Blood”).

Despite such acts to subdue the voices of the Khmer Krom people, KKF will be continue to host the side event speaking about the human rights situation in Vietnam.

[youtube]d9Qvw6mTllQ,_UHq7WmZ8G0,GWBvVcOfDUs,jDT2rinrFNQ,12n7HphTEkE[/youtube]

Click here to see film on YouTube presented by Rebecca Sommers

Intervention Statement by Vietnam Delegation to UNPFII

My delegation wishes to raise concern in regards to a paragraph page 4 for SR Stavenhagen statement which partially concerns the central highland region in Vietnam.

Madame Chair person, my delegations have been participating in this Permanent Forum with the view to provide the Forum with the actual information of ethnic minorities on the ground, on their needs, the issues as well as the government’s efforts to address them.

By doing so, my delegation hopes that this will facilitate the deliberation and adoption that will be effective in addressing the needs of the people at the ground. Therefore, we have in many occasions rejected groundless information provided by some so called [organizations] with questionable political agenda who is based elsewhere outside the country.

Yet it is most unfortunate and disheartening to see that in the Forum such groundless information is more easily picked up coming to the Forum than information provided by my government including those on the government’s effort benefiting all fifty three ethnic minorities in Vietnam; including those in the Central Highlands of Vietnam as stated in the our previous statements.

Also on the question of information and dissidents information. One statement we heard earlier today asserted that my government
Madam Chair person, the constitution and laws of Vietnam guarantees freedom of religion and belief. They also guarantee the principles of equality of all citizens before the law. And that is the principle that we continue to uphold in building the law of the country.

All those who committed crimes punishable under the pinit code will be according prosecuted regards of their ethnicity and religion.

Thank you Madame Chair person.


UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Stavenhagen Rodolfo in response to Vietnam intervention

I am not sure that some of the issues I referred there are groundless because they have been provided by peoples who provide serious information about my situation. But as Special Rapporteur, of course, very much appreciate and welcome further information on these issues which is precisely the purpose of dialogues that Madame Chair person has asked us to engage in.

Let me just say that over there years that I have sent some communications to the governments of Vietnam regarding some complaints from various sources and I shall request the government of Vietnam to provide an answer to through the effective means available mechanisms and procedures of the Special Rapporteur.

UNPFII Fifth Session: Item 3

Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
15-26 May 2006 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Jeffrey Kim
Item 3

Madame Chair,

One of the biggest concerns for the Khmer Krom people is the lack of consultation of the Vietnamese government with our people including the Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation (KKF), an organization representing the Khmer Krom people in South Vietnam. The denial that the Khmer Krom people are not indigenous peoples by the Vietnamese government remains an obstacle in our self determination. KKF’s work continues to be undermined and ineffective, our people disadvantaged and poorly represented with limited access to the vast resources and financial assistance that Vietnam has received from International Financial Institutions and UN specialized agencies. The KKF demands the aid pouring into Vietnam reaches the people in need and a global partnership for development is established.

• To ensure effective implementation of these goals, a two-way communication system should be installed or created between the Vietnamese government and the Indigenous Khmer Krom people in which the UN or a nominated independent organization shall act as a mediator to create a climate of conflict transformation.

• The Vietnamese government needs to work with UNESCO with the full participation of the indigenous Khmer Krom people including the KKF to create initiatives and indigenous specific programs.

• Programs that educate people about their rights and culture should be created, translated in their native language, promoted and implemented immediately to ensure indigenous people have equal access to these facilities.

• Sufficient funding needs to be allocated to combat the high child morality rates and empowering indigenous women through UNFPA and UNIFEM.

• Programs initiated needs to be tailor specific and practical to indigenous peoples

• To ensure reports and claims are correct as reported by the Vietnamese government, the Special Rapporteur must pay a compulsory visit to Vietnam to verify the situation of Khmer Krom people on the ground in South Vietnam.

• Creditable evidence of abuse of indigenous peoples by the responsible government should be reviewed by the UN and prompt action should be taken to allow for the realization of the MDGs by the Khmer Krom.

• A detailed annual report focusing on the human rights situation on the ground should be provided to members of the forum and the indigenous peoples by the Vietnamese government so new ideas may be recommended.

I am aware there are many more speakers sharing their story of struggle in their homelands that are similar. Therefore, I will provide only one example of how the MDGs are currently not being taken seriously by the government and if we do not redefine based on indigenous indicators will result in harm to our people. The Vietnam government admits in its ethnic minorities report, which doesn’t recognize us as indigenous peoples, claims Khmer have a high rate of illiteracy with poor information accessibility. This is true. However, forcing us to learn Vietnamese and only providing information not in our indigenous language will perpetuate the problem not promote a positive solution for our peoples daily enduring the harmful policies at the hands of the government.

Madam Chair, projects needs to feasible and practical to ensure effective implementation. Specifically in our case, we implore the UN to help set up a system which allows for direct consultation with the Vietnamese government so that we as an indigenous organisations may have a more active role in our self determination.

Thank you Madam Chair

 

UNPFII: Human Rights

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 14-25 May 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York City

Speaker: Venerable Pin Diep
Item 4f: Human Rights

Joint Statement of United Association Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Buddhist Monks, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, Montagnard Foundation

Madame Chair,

Viet Nam comes here to boast its material growth yet its maniacal genocide on indigenous peoples is all the world knows about as more and more human rights violations are being recorded in the media of the world. Like a broken record, the government comes for its fourth year rejecting our participation as you just heard this morning. We will continue to speak truth to power in the streets of our homeland but also the sessions of human rights instruments at the UN.

The intervention this morning labeled our homeland as a marginal area. It is the essence of our existence. It is the core of our cultural survival. While the government speaks of preservation, we are not jam or jelly. We are an indigenous peoples. Our culture must be allowed to be perpetuated through the exercise of our human rights.

Unfortunately, there are many parts of the statement that aren’t true. However, we will focus on just one aspect – the right to health under the ICESCR. The government talks about clinics. However, for four years we have raised the issue of blind farmers and asked the government for a dialogue for positive solutions. Instead, there is a diatribe labeling us as separatists. We have always lived in the Mekong Delta. We aren’t going anywhere. We desire to exercise our right of self-determination. We recommend the government invite the Special Rapporteur on Health to Mekong Delta. This could begin a dialogue we have been requesting for years.

Last year, Vietnam was removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern by the US prior to entering WTO. Recent events in Kampuchea-Krom, however displays a stark reality of increased human rights violations and religious prosecution of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and civilians and Degar people.

The use of human rights instruments such as peaceful demonstrations and accessing human rights materials published by our organization have been met with unnecessary military action against our monks. At least nine monks were defrocked and imprisoned after participating in a peaceful protest in the Soc Trang on 22nd February 2007. Five of the defrocked monks have recently been sentenced to 2-5 years imprisonment by Vietnam government for the alleged crime of organizing a non violent protest.

Two Buddhist monks aged 17 were arrested and defrocked for capturing the unfolding events of monks being defrocked by Vietnamese authorities. This is a violation of the CRC and Vietnam is a party to the most widely ratified international human rights instrument.

Madame Chair, such actions by the Vietnam are unnecessarily against our Buddhist. As practitioner of Theravada Buddhism, it is our nature to promote peace and harmony, not conflict against the greater Vietnamese community.

We would like to propose the following recommendations:

  • Reaffirm the recommendation by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to place Vietnam back on CPC List
  • Ask that United Nations and world governments encourage Vietnam to uphold the international human rights treaties by immediately releasing all fifteen defrocked Buddhist monks.
  • Ask that Vietnam allow our Buddhist monks to create an independent religious organization to promote our rich history, religion and culture and not one that only promotes the one policy propaganda of the Vietnamese government.
  • Ask that Vietnam recognize and respect the rights of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and civilians to practice their religion as defined by their culture rather by the convenient of the State.
  • Urge the help of the Permanent Forum and UN to send a Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom to oppressed areas of Tra Vinh and Soc Trang province.
  • Ask Vietnam to acknowledge and allow the right of individuals and religious practitioners to take part in nonviolent demonstrations as a means to express their concerns and opinions by creating and adopting national laws to allow indigenous peoples to use mechanisms of human right.
  • Request the help of UNESCO to translate UN documents including into Khmer and create workshops to allow for greater awareness and protect for our monks.

 

Madame Chair, the intervention by the Vietnam government shows the lack of recognition our rights to be here at the forum. Our objectives like that of our indigenous brothers and sisters are to provide a resounding voice on behalf of our indigenous peoples.

The fact that Buddhist monks are protesting suggest that the work of our indigenous organization is finally reaching our people back home and that they are finally grasping the hungry knowledge of their rights and fundamental freedoms. However, such knowledge remains dangerous especially with the renew oppression by Vietnam to halt all human rights movement.

Lastly, we would like to appeal to all peoples who love peace and harmony to help our Buddhist monks find justice in world dominated by fear tactics and one way policies.

Response statement by Vietnam Government, Mr. Nguyen Tat Thanh, Deputy Permanent Representative,

Statement by
Mr. Nguyen Tat Thanh, Deputy Permanent Representative,
Permanent Mission of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the United Nations at the Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

New York, 18 May 2007

Agenda item 4:
Implementation of recommendations on the six mandated areas of the Forum and on the Millennium Development Goals:
(a) Economic and social development;
(b) Environment;
(c) Health;
(d) Education;
(e) Culture;
(f) Human rights;

Madam Chairperson,

My Delegation wishes to congratulate you on your re-election as Chairperson of this Forum. Our equally warm congratulations go to the other members of the Bureau.

With a view to ensuring that the current economic growth benefits all groups of the population, in formulating and implementing socio-economic development policies and programmes, the Government of Viet Nam always takes steps so that they address the particular needs of disadvantaged groups of the population, including the 53 ethnic minorities who live in mountainous and remote areas and make up 12 % of the country’s population.

To achieve sustainable development for mountainous environment it is necessary to ensure harmony and balance between economic growth, social justice and environmental sustainability, and to preserve the cultural identity of all ethnicities. Therefore current priority areas are as follows:

    • To improve the livelihood and progressively meet material and spiritual needs of ethnic minorities, first and foremost, through poverty reduction and job generation programmes, especially for the most poverty-stricken areas. To improve access to basic services such as transportation and road system, irrigation, electricity, water, schools and clinics with a view to ensuring the balanced and realistic development among regions and ethnicities towards harmonious development contributing to the narrowing of development gaps among regions and groups of population. Pursue economic development as the focal task and the means to enhance the quality of life for ethnic minorities while observing the principle of social harmony, sustainable exploitation of natural resources and environment protection.
    • o maintain close linkage between socio-economic development and environment protection. Protect and improve the environment as an indispensable element of development and a must in all socio-economic development strategies, policies and programmes through measures of reasonable exploitation and preservation of resources such as forest, land, water, fauna, flora and genetic resources.
    • To ensure that socio-economic development is not detrimental to the particular and distinguished identity of traditional culture of mountainous ethnicities, by preserving and enriching cultural life of people through, inter alia, studies and preservation of the traditional culture of villages and communes, assisting the organization of various individual or joint cultural events, increasing the radio and television coverage in minority areas with increasing components in ethnic languages.
    • To undertake measures to encourage the participation of the people in identifying their needs, developing and implementing plans and monitoring and assessing their progress, especially the participation of women, local mass organizations and traditional communal organizations in all activities affecting the life of the people concerned.
    • To improve access to healthcare for ethnic minorities through providing free health insurance and some healthcare services, through conducting expanded vaccination programmes with a view to preventing diseases, and through minimizing the number of communes without clinics. As of present 96% of communes have their own clinics and vaccination coverage has reached over 90% and efforts are currently undertaken to ensure less accessible, remote mountainous areas also benefit from these programmes.
    • To develop human resources and pay greater attention to education and training through providing incentives in the enrollment of and support for ethnic students. Currently 8 ethnic writing systems are taught in schools nationwide including HMong, Cham, Bahnar, Jrai, Khmer.

To further implement land, housing and water policies (such as Decisions132 and 134 of 2002 of the Prime Minister for the Central Highland ethinic population) to ensure that every family has their own land for living and farming, adequate, durable and safe housing and individual or shared water supply.

Along this line, the Programme on Socio-Economic Development of communes with special difficulties in mountainous and ethnic minority areas (Programme 135) launched in 1998 has been extended until 2010 on the basis on its success stories and lessons learned. The current phase of Programme135 aims at considerably improving the production and income generation, infrastructure including transportation and irrigation systems, building schools and clinics at all communes, providing electricity and clean water, increasing enrollment rate at schools, providing free legal assistance and capacity building with a view to facilitating monitoring of investments and other activities by communities in their areas.

Madam Chairperson,

Before concluding, my Delegation feels compelled again to state our objection to the participation in this august body by entities, such as Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation, who have been engaging in separatist activities against the State of Viet Nam, including through, inter alia, spreading false information that my Delegation has always rejected. Such actions by these entities and individuals would only negate the effect of efforts by this Forum and my Government toward the betterment of all people on the ground.

Thank you for your attention.