Office of the President No: 313 /KKF/S/2010 08 March 2010 Pennsauken, NJ, USA To Whom It May Concern: On behalf of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, we would like to bring to your immediate attention Vietnam’s injustice against a Khmer-Krom couple for harvesting rice on their ancestral lands. Background In 1979, many Khmer-Krom people in Moth Chrouk (renamed An Giang) province were forced to leave their homes, lands and relocated to Khleang (renamed Soc Trang) and Pol Leav (renamed Bac Lieu) province. When they were allowed to return back, most of their lands were inhabited by Vietnamese people. Mr. Chau Ra Quon, like many thousands of Khmer-Krom people tried to file for the return of their confiscated farmlands but received no response from the Vietnamese government. Taking matters into their own hands, Mr. Chau Ra Quon and his wife, Mrs. Neang Chanh Thon decided to plant rice crops last season on their ancestral farmlands. On 17 February 2009, Mr. Chau and Mrs. Neang went to harvest their crops but were met with local Vietnamese police to stop them from harvest their crops. Mrs. Neang, three months pregnant was arrested and remains in prison today. She has a 7 month old baby at home, whom she was breastfeeding. Mrs. Neang has not been allowed visitors and has not seen her husband or baby since her arrest. Her family fears for her safety and that of her unborn child. On 26 February 2010, Mr. Chau Ra Quon, aged 29, Village of An Cu, District of Tinh Bien, Province of An Giang was ordered to face the Vietnamese authorities for allegedly acting “against the law enforcers” violating the Vietnamese Government Article 257 felony. Mr. Chau has been actively in asking for the return of his lands by participating in peaceful demonstrations. Instead of resolving the land confiscation issues, Vietnam authorities are targeting and imprisoning Khmer-Krom individuals for daring to protest against the Vietnamese government. Mr. Chau Ra Quon is currently placed under house arrest and remains heavily monitored. He faces prison if he is found guilty on these charges. In this regards, we would like to ask for your assistance to:
- Ask Vietnamese government to release Mrs. Neang Chanh Thon immediately so that she can get medical aid for her unborn baby and be allowed to look after her young baby.
- Help to investigate and monitor the situation of Mr. Chau Ra Quon, who is facing prison for simply exercising his basic right to peacefully demand for the return of his confiscated lands.
- Urge Vietnamese government to release Mr. Chau Ra Quon from house arrest and all charges against him.
- Ask Vietnamese government to focus on effective means to resolving land confiscation issues rather than cracking down on Khmer-Krom land activists, who are merely exercising their basic rights.
While the world is celebrating International Women’s Day on 8th March, Mrs. Neang is unfairly detained and alone in prison, separated from her family and friends. We fear for her safety and we look forward to hearing from you.