The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-Determination


Sereivuth Prak
P.O.Box 193
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
Phone:  562-209-1790
We are running out of copy for this book – an update will be made when a new version of the book is available

The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-DeterminationPennsauken, NJ – January 19, 2010 – Prior to April 1975, people around the world knew about the Vietnam War. Today, people know about the fertile land of the Mekong Delta that helps Vietnam to be ranked as the second leading exporter of rice in the world. However, there are very few people who know the true history of the Mekong Delta and its surrounding regions. Therefore, people don’t know about the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples.

The Khmer-Krom are the indigenous peoples of Kampuchea-Krom. Kampuchea-Krom means “Cambodia Below” or “South Cambodia”. Kampuchea-Krom was the southernmost territory of the Khmer Empire. The territory was renamed Cochinchina during the French colonization of Indochina. After the French government illegally transferred its colony, Cochinchina, to Vietnam on June 4, 1949, without the plebiscite or the consent of the Khmer-Krom, Cochinchina (Kampuchea-Krom) became lower half of the Republic of South Vietnam. Since April 30, 1975, Kampuchea-Krom has been known as the Southern part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Living under the control of the Vietnamese government, the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples have suffered tremendous human rights violations, confiscation of ancestral lands, and economic and social deprivations. The Indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples are not allowed to learn their own language and history in public schools or to freely practice their Theravada Buddhism without the interference of the Vietnamese government.

As an effort to bring awareness of the voiceless Khmer-Krom in Kampuchea-Krom to the world, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) is proud to present this book about the Khmer-Krom, entitled “The Khmer-Krom Journey to Self-Determination”. This is the first time this subject has been presented in this level of detail in the English language.

This book contains material produced by the KKF reflecting the true accounts of the Khmer-Krom regarding their history, culture, religion, and land. This information was produce by the combined efforts of KKF contributors, living in Kampuchea-Krom and from countries around the world. This book also consists of a collection of articles and essays about the Khmer-Krom that are written by academics and Human Rights advocates.

In his review of this book, Madev Mohan, the International Law representing Khmer-Krom Survivors at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Tribunal) wrote, “this book should be read by all activists, scholars, jurists and policy makers in the fields of international development and humanitarianism with a view to identifying fresh measures to preserve the Khmer Krom social memory and culture, protect the human rights of the Khmer Krom people and, importantly, tell the Khmer Krom story.”


Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
P.O.Box 193
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
Tel:  856-655-3838 
Fax: 856-655-1503

Copyright@2009 Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrival system, without permission in writing to Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

Published by Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Cover designed by Khanh Son
Edited by Daryn Reicherter and Joshua Cooper
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN 978-0-578-04392-0


Foreword 5
Acknowledgements 7
Introduction 9

KKF Mission 15
Organizational Structure 15
International Membership 17
Head Office 17
Activities at the International Level 18
Activities at the Local Level 22

A Brief History of the Kampuchea-Krom 25
The Land of the Khmer-Krom 60
Theravada Buddhism Among The Khmer Krom 103
Mindfulness Meditation after Trauma 127
The Culture of the Khmer-Krom 136

The Land Rights Abuses 167
Khmer-Krom Social and Cultural Institutions 170
Khmer-Krom Youths in Kampuchea-Krom 172
Violations of Religious Freedom 173
Specific Human Rights Violations 184
Psychology of Oppression: Human Rights Abuses in the Mekong River Delta 200
An Open Dialogue for Immediate Action on Khmer-Krom Poverty 207
Khmer-Krom Theravada Buddhist Organization Should Remain Independent from the Government-Run “Vietnamese Buddhist Shangha” 223
Discriminatory Practices Denying Educational Opportunities 227

Addressing Human Rights Abuses in the Past and Present 237
The Stateless Khmer-Krom in Cambodia 252
The Khmer-Krom Refugees in Thailand: From Horror to Hopelessness 257

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: An International Instrument for Dignity & Equality for All on Earth 262
UNPO and KKF: United in the Struggle for Self-Determination 268
CEDAW and Protection of Women’s Human Rights 289
Khmer-Krom Youth Movement 291
Opportunity for All KKF to Volunteer in United Nations Initiative: Sign Up to Serve on a KKF Working Group Based on Passions & Purpose 294
Indigenous Peoples Access Most Recent Human Rights Mechanism to Guarantee Vietnam Government Accountable to Global Community: Khmer Krom Urge Recognition and Realization of Rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review 296

Conclusion 303
Appendixes and Contributors 305
APPENDIX A: Documented Evident of Transfering of Cochinchina 306
APPENDIX B: Khmer-Krom Temples 322
APPENDIX C: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 324


This first book to be written in English about the Khmer-Krom will be a vital tool to increase international understanding and awareness of the history and culture of a unique community. The Khmer-Krom have undergone a long history of oppression and exploitation. A combination of conflict over land ownership and colonial influence has divided their ancestral territory between Vietnam and Cambodia, weakening the collective bargaining power of their people and their ability to protect their rights. Moreover, oppressive policies have left the people of Khmer-Krom striving to preserve their identity and their cohesion as an indigenous group. This highlights just how crucial it is to record and disseminate this clear and comprehensive portrayal of a people to safeguard their future generations.

Perhaps the most significant challenge for the Khmer-Krom is that they are not well known outside their immediate regions. The basic and most important challenge therefore is to disseminate facts about the community’s history and current situation. This is precisely what motivates the endeavors of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). The UNPO works in partnership with indigenous peoples, minorities and under-represented or marginalized groups to provide them with an entry point to mainstream international platforms and to facilitate their participation in the decision-making processes which affect them.

The inaugural collaboration between the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and UNPO was a conference in 2002 designed to raise awareness of the Khmer-Krom within the Mekong Delta. This momentous conference led to the first historic appearance of the Khmer-Krom on the international stage as representatives addressed the 2004 UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.

Although aims and contexts vary dramatically between UNPO Members, it is evident that cross-cutting themes apply across the board, demonstrating unity in the aspirations of marginalized communities. The value in acting as a network cannot be underestimated in the endeavor to reformulate and broaden the concept of self-determination.

Today, the publication of this book marks a further crucial step towards the recognition of the people of Khmer-Krom and their struggle towards freedom, democracy, rule of law and self-determination. UNPO would like to express solidarity with the people of the Khmer-Krom in their campaign to secure human, civil and political rights, and widespread representation and recognition.

By encouraging discourses, this book opens spaces for dialogue where all other forums are closed.

Marino Busdachin


(Mr. Marino Busdachin is UNPO General Secretary. Little background about him can be found at:


The KKF Research Team is made up of numerous KKF members internationally. They contributed tirelessly to this project. Also, below are the individual contributors for this book:

Ang, Chanrith is an Executive Director of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Association in Cambodia.

Aylward, Alexandra isa research coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She is currently researching human rights abuses in the context of torture; female genital mutilation; and the oppression of the Khmer-Krom peoples. Alexandra hopes that her contributions will enlighten people about the abuses committed by sanctioned governments.

Ciorciari, John D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is also a senior legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

Cooper, Joshua, Ph.D., is the Director of The Four Freedoms Forum, a Think & Tactic Tank, focusing on a human rights framework rooted in America’s tradition of equality, dignity and justice. Cooper has served past decade as Director of the Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights connecting grassroots and global affairs through education, mobilization and realization of rights for citizens of the world. He serves on the Human Rights Task Force for the UNA-USA Board of Directors and also the Area Coordinator & Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA. Cooper is currently an Asia Pacific Leadership Program Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu and a lecturer at the University of Hawaii teaching classes focusing on International Human Rights Law and Ecological Justice. Cooper also lectures at the International Training Center for Teaching Peace and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

dela Cruz, Christine, MA, is a Research Assistant at the International Secretariat of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) based in the Hague.

Harris, Ian, Ph.D., is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Cumbria, England and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He is the author of Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice (2005) and Buddhism Under Pol Pot (2007) plus many additional articles and edited volumes on aspects of Buddhism and politics. He has held visiting fellowships in Oxford, Vancouver and Phnom Penh and he is currently engaged in research on the history of Buddhism in Cambodia (1940-73).

O’Donnell, Amy, MA, is a Research Assistant at the International Secretariat of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) based in the Hague.

Reicherter, Daryn, MD, is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, School of Medicine. He provides a combination of administrative and clinical services in the area of “cross-cultural” trauma mental health. He is the Director of Cross Cultural Psychiatry at Gardner Mental Health Care Clinic, the Senior Psychiatrist at the Eastern European Service Agency, and a Consulting Psychiatrist at the Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture, Asian Americans for Community Involvement. He is the President of the Board of Directors for Survivors International. He serves as a consultant to the Documentation Center of Cambodia. He is on the Advisory Council for the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation.

Scott, Peter is a husband and father, a high school teacher, an author of four books, and an abiding friend of the Khmer-Krom.

Shin, Heisoo, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, and a Former Expert, UN CEDAW Committee (2001-2008).

2012 KKF Year-End Meeting

2012 KKF Year-End Meeting

The members of KKF around the world went to Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend the KKF year-end meeting from 14-16 December 2012. The KKF Chapter in North Carolina had done a wonderful job to host the meeting with more than hundred participants successfully.

Pre-meeting – Friday, December 14, 2012

In the morning, the KKF Board of Directors and its advisors met for a retrospective meeting to evaluate the results of 2012 and set forward the plan for 2013. Dr. Joshua Cooper, KKF Advisor, talked about his works to advocate for the Khmer-Krom’s rights in 2012 and briefed about his trip to Cambodia during the ASEAN meeting.

In the afternoon, the special guest, Dr. Scott Flipse, Deputy Director for Policy and Research of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, arrived and talked briefly to the KKF Board of Directors about how to help KKF leaders to advocate for the religious freedom of the Khmer-Krom in Vietnam more effectively.

In the late afternoon, Mr. To Kim Thong and Mr. Tran Mannrinh talked about their trip to Cambodia on November during the ASEAN Meeting. 

In the early Evening, the members started arriving. The pre-meeting opens up for the members to express their concerns and suggestions to the KKF leaders.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

In the morning, after a formal meeting opening by KKF Chairman, Mr. Thach Vien from France, Venerable TT Dhammo, KKF Director of Religious Affair, led the Buddhist chanting to pray for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The Buddhist monks attended the meeting also shared and blessed for the victims’ families to overcome the tragedy.

Mr. Thach Ngoc Thach, KKF President from Canada, presented a presentation “March to Freedom” to talk about the activities of KKF in 2012. The KKF Director, KKF Regional Presidents also presented the reports of their 2012 activities to the members.
In the afternoon, there was a panel presented by the special guest speakers:

Mr. Kok Ksor, President of the Degar Foundation, expressed his appreciation for inviting him to talk at the meeting. He was really happy with the cooperation between KKF and his organization because we all share the common issue: the human rights violations against our people. He looks forward to work with KKF leaders to raise the issues more effectively to the International spotlight.

Former United States Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of East Timor, Grover Joseph Rees, talked about the institutional culture of the foreign ministry and relationship among governments. Ambassador Rees discussed about how to present the Khmer-Krom issues effectively. He also reminded the KKF members to use their power as the US citizen to bring the Khmer-Krom human rights violations to the US politicians.

Dr. Scott Flipse talked about how his organization has helped defending the religious freedom for the people in Vietnam. He mentioned that he already had two trips to Khleang (Soc Trang) to talk with the Vietnamese officials regarding to the religious freedom violations against the Khmer-Krom. He expressed emotionally about why he wants to help the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks who were arrested, defrocked, and imprisoned in Khleang in 2007. When he heard those Buddhist monks told him how they were tortured in prison, he could not stand it. He said that the Vietnamese religious leaders who had been arrested and imprisoned in Vietnam, none of them were tortured.

To help brining the Khmer-Krom issues effectively to the US government, Dr. Flipse suggested KKF members should contact and write letter to their congressman/congresswoman urging them to help raising the religious freedom violations against Khmer-Krom in Vietnam. He also suggested that KKF should send representatives once a month to Washington DC to meet other religious freedom advocacy groups to join them raising the religious freedom violations around the world which is also included the issues of the Khmer-Krom.

Ms. Sara Colm, former Human Rights Watch researcher, talked about the fundamental rights that the Peoples must have and relate them to the human rights violations against the Khmer-Krom.

Ms. Colm brought up a very important point that the Khmer-Krom in Mekong Delta will be facing is the affected of the Global Warming. She pointed out that if the sea level keeps raising, the Mekong Delta will be flooded and the Khmer-Krom people have to move away from their homeland. Vietnam has been receiving funds to preventing the affected of global warming. She suggested that KKF needs to make sure that the Khmer-Krom people are included in whatever policies that Vietnam put into action.

Dr. Cooper gave an excellent talk about how he and KKF had worked together to bring the Khmer-Krom human rights violations at the United Nations meetings (CERD, CRC, UNPFII, EMRIP) and lobbied the governments around the world. He also talked about his trip to Cambodia in November to teach human rights for the Khmer-Krom youths and Khmer-Krom Buddhist monk students. He showed the picture of his class using the candle light to learn Human Rights because the Cambodian government turned off power to preventing him from teaching the human rights class to the Khmer-Krom.

After the special guests spoke, there was an open discussion for the members to ask questions to the speakers.  
At night, the North Carolina KKF local chapter hosted a Party to welcome all the participants coming to the meeting.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In the morning, the KKF regional and local presidents who did not present their reports in Saturday continued to present their reports. The KKF Women team, led by Mrs. Son Thi Nit, KKF Director of Women, presented their activities report.

The KKFYC team, led by Serey Chau, KKF Director of Youth, presented a presentation about the KKFYC activities in 2012 and plan for 2013. Sothy Kien and Lenny Thach gave the impressive talk about why the Khmer-Krom youths should join the KKFYC to seek for the freedom for the voiceless people in Kampuchea-Krom. They urged the KKF local leaders to send the youths in their local community to join the KKFYC team and support the youths to attend the UNPFII and the Khmer-Krom Youth Conference.

Dr. Cooper gave a quick talk about the meetings in 2013 at the UN and around the world that KKF should attend to effectively raise the issues of the Khmer-Krom.

In the afternoon, a special guest, Venerable Loun Sovath, Receiver of the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, gave an excellent talk about the role of the Buddhist monks in defending the fundamental rights. He expressed his support to KKF for using non-violent as the Principles of Buddhism to seek for the right to self-determination for the Khmer-Krom.

Mr. Sarey Chau, KKF treasure, and Mr. Giap Tran, KKF Chief of Administration, presented the financial plan urging members to help raising money to help KKF sustain its work and activities.

The meeting is concluded with the adopted resolution as the guideline for KKF to implement its plan for 2013.

The KKF leaders around the world expressed their appreciation to thank to all the members of the North Carolina KKF local chapter who worked so hard to host the KKF year-end meeting successful.

Happy New Year 2013!

Looking back and being thankful for the wonderful memories of previous year and the hope for beautiful time ahead. We would like to say thank you for every member and supporters around the world for making our peaceful movement possible. With loved to our people back home and the motherland that no one can tear us apart.

We should not dwell on the past but continue forward and let our people know that they are always and forever in our heart and soul. 2012 was a great year for all of us, Khmer-Krom, because the world knows who we are and more importantly what our people want.

From January 2012 till the mid of December, members of the KKF have worked effortfully to voice the concerns of our Khmer-Krom people by participating at international conferences such as CERD, CRC, ASIAN Forum, and the UNPFII as well as corresponding with the US Department of State, the Canadian Foreign Affairs, Australian Trade and Foreign Affairs, and the European Union regarding to the religious freedom and human rights of the Khmer-Krom in our homeland.

The 2012 was also a historically year for KKF that the Committee on Non-Government Organizations of the ECOSOC voted to grant KKF Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC by consensus decision of all members on the NGO Committee. Vietnam launched an aggressive campaign to request ECOSOC Member States to vote stripping off the KKF’s accreditation with ECOSOC. Even we were not accepted this, but the fact that we were supported by many powerful and democratic countries and NGOs has elevated our Khmer Krom issue to a higher level than we anticipated. The Wall Street Journal even published an article “Vietnam invents a U.N. procedure to silence critics” to condemn Vietnam trying to silence KKF at the UN.

We will continue to work harder to change what our people face at this present time. We know for a fact that no one can stop us because we are the Indigenous Peoples of that land, the Kampuchea-Krom.

KKF has put forward the best practices for 2013.



  • Magnify, amplify and add the KKF voices by working and forming alliance with human rights organizations and other indigenous and minority groups as well as on specific issues important to Kampuchea-Krom
  • Develop policy changes and decisions to protect the Khmer-Krom farmers, displaced landless farmers, and peoples moved across the border because of climate changes and global warming on the Mekong Delta
  • Coordinate lobby weeks in the Capitol with elected officials in supporting states


  • Increase activities for self-determination on specific issues
  • Complete the 11 points’ survey after returning from Kampuchea-Krom


  • Conduct trainings and seminars for KKF Local Chapters
  • Increase networking of women and youths’ activities
  • Continue to provide and support school construction in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Let us hope and pray that this New Year be the one, where all of our dreams will come true with unity in spirit and a joyful heart to put a strong start to this year anew.

On behalf of all the Khmer-Krom people, we wish you a happy and prosperous New Year 2013.

May our Lord Buddha bless everyone and our beloved people back home.


KKF President

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