By Lenny Thach, HR Advocacy “The Three Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks want to see Vietnamese government respect the human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist Education in Kampuchea-Krom (Southern Vietnam today)”. – Former Defrocked Monks Picture (left to right): Ven. Tim Sakhorn, Ven. Danh Tol, Ven. Kim Muol Today, members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and three KK Buddhist Monks had a busy schedule at the Nation’s Capital, Washington DC. The first meeting was with Scott Busby, the National Security Council official in charge of human rights and refugee issues held in the Wilson Room of the White House Conference Center. Next stop was to the U.S State Department where they met with Peter J. Kovach, Director Office of International Religious Freedom and Sara Colm from Human Rights Watch. A meeting with UNHCR Officers and U.S Congressman Staff gave the KKF Delegations the opportunity to raise the issues of the Khmer Krom refugees, human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist education in Vietnam. The meeting with the US Congress was a collective effort by KKF to try to improve human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist education in Vietnam and Cambodia. The three KK Buddhist monks, Kim Moul, Tim Sakhorn and Danh Tol gave a brief report on Vietnam over the past few years, reaffirming that the situation back home remains very fragile. They expressed their concerns about recent events in Mekong Delta River, the human rights situation and other issues such as religions freedom and Buddhist Education. The KKF’s delegation and three KK Buddhist monks were happy that they were able to conduct talks with the US Officers without fear or restrictions, unlike in Vietnam. The monks were able to make US Officers understand and appreciate how Vietnam treats its indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta. They spoke about the Vietnam government’s discrimination against the Khmer Krom people and Buddhist monks and how human rights, religious freedom and Buddhist education structure remains restricted and controlled. Mr. Thach Thach, KKF President also took the opportunity to raise issues such as the ongoing land-rights disputes and the exploitation of peasants’ land by the Vietnam Authority in Ang Giang Province for concessions to private interests Kampuchea-Krom in 1978. He also spoke about the lack of the freedom of expression, assembly and Buddhist education. In his meeting with the US Officers, Mr. Thach Thach, reaffirmed and encouraged Vietnam government to engage in constructive dialogue with the Khmer Krom people back home and abroad at meetings such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples last April. He encouraged Vietnam to open transparency in order to make both side living in peace and improve the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, including land rights, freedom of expression, Buddhist education and religious freedom.