Pennsauken, 24 September 2013– On behalf of the Khmer- Krom families in Prey Chop, we would like to urgently appeal and notify you of the upcoming trial of 4 Khmer-Krom people who have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned for allegedly creating “public disorder” during the incident of Venerable Ly Chanh Da’s defrocking on 16th May 2013.
Family members were notified that the following members; Lam Thi lon, Ly Thi Danh, Ly Minh Hai and Tang Pha Lan will be placed on trial on September 25th 2013 at Toà Án Nhân Dân Thị Xã Vĩnh Châu, Tỉnh Sóc Trăng.
We are concern about the lack of transparency and fairness of this trial. They were given insignificant time to find a lawyer and the accused have been found guilty even before the trial even happened.
The four victims are imprisoned because they exercised their freedom of speech and spoke up about the injustice of what the Vietnam authority was doing to Venerable Ly Chanh Da. Venerable Ly Chanh Da have fled to Thailand seeking asylum but those who stayed like the four victims will be sentenced for a crime they did not commit.
On behalf of these voiceless victims, we urgently need for your assistance to:
- Ask Vietnam to immediately release all 4 victims without trial
- Request that Vietnam provide a lawyer for the accused so that they are represented in fairness and justice.
- Remind Vietnam that freedom of speech is a right for all, not just for Vietnamese people.
- Urge all Foreign Embassies to send a representative to the trial to observe the proceedings
Pennsauken, 20 September 2013 – The Vietnamese authority will take Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha from Tra Set Temple, Vinh Hai Commune, Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province to face the trial in Soc Trang province on September 27, 2013. The trial will begin from 7am at: “Toà Án Nhân Dân Tỉnh Sóc Trăng (Đ/c: Số 1, Đường 30/4, Phường 2, Thành Phố Sóc Trăng, Tỉnh Sóc Trăng)”
Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha have been arrested since May 20, 2013. The Vietnamese authority just notified their family this week, giving them insignificant time to find a lawyer to represent the accused. It seems that Vietnamese government has decided to provide a trial just to sentence and punish them.
According to the summoned letters that Vietnamese authority asked the Khmer-Krom to attend the trial, it states that “Venerable Thach Thuol and his accomplices” will be trialed for the alleged crimes of: “fleeing abroad to against the Vietnamese government” and “organizing for other people to fleeing abroad”.
Since 2012, the Vietnamese authority threatened to arrest Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol for many times. Two days before they were arrested, they made video testimony appealing to the world to help protect them. The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation has included their video clip in this documentary video:
If Vietnamese authority did not try to arrest and defrock Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol, they would not leave their beloved temple. As they said in their appeal video clip, they were just Buddhist monks practicing their peaceful religion. Because they could not practice their religion in peace in their temple, they tried to escape to Cambodia but
were arrested with their two Khmer-Krom youth students: Thach Phum Rich and Thach Tha.
In this regard, we urgently would like to ask for your support to:
- Ask Vietnam to provide a transparent trial that is free and fair so they could be released because they did not commit any crimes.
- Urge Vietnam to provide Lawyers to help represent Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich and Thach Tha at the court.
- Urge Vietnam to allow Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha to defend for themselves by speaking if they don’t have lawyers.
- Urge the foreign embassies in Vietnam to send their representatives to attend the trial
Since May 20, 2013, Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha from Tra Set Temple, Vinh Hai Commune, Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province have been arrested, their whereabouts are still unknown.
It has been three months already since Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha were arrested and the Vietnamese authority still does not bring them to court. It shows that the Vietnamese authority could not find any evidents to sentence them and hopefully does not torture them to confess the crimes that they do not commit.
In reality, Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol do not violate any law or Buddhist rules as they appealed before their arrested in this Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZMef1nAtGQ
As of this time, the Vietnamese authority still does not allow their family members to visit or tell their family members their whereabouts.
If Vietnam is a country that respects religious freedom and the human rights treaties that Vietnam ratified, then Vietnam must release them without any condition. Vietnam must not use torture against them. If something happens to Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, the Leaders of Vietnam must be fully responsible for it.
July 22, 2013 | by USCIRF
WASHINGTON, D.C. — USCIRF urges President Obama to raise concerns about religious freedom violations in Vietnam when he meets at the White House with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang on July 25. Raising these concerns as the U.S.-Vietnamese bilateral relationship is improving will underscore America’s support for this fundamental right.
“Because religious freedom conditions remain very poor in Vietnam, we respectfully urge President Obama to raise concerns about religious freedom and related human rights when he meets with President Truong Tan Sang,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett. “The progress that took place over the past decade was achieved when American and international attention made improvements in religious freedom a core part of the bilateral agenda. These linkages did not, and will not, threaten our relationship: In fact, the Vietnamese government’s support for religious freedom can only strengthen the relationship between our two countries.”
As documented in USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report, the government of Vietnam continues to expand control over all religious activities, severely restrict independent religious practice, and repress individuals and religious groups it views as challenging its authority. The Vietnamese government uses a specialized religious police force and vague national security laws to suppress independent Buddhist, Protestant, Hoa Hao, and Cao Dai activities, and seeks to stop the growth of ethnic minority Protestantism and Catholicism via discrimination, violence and forced renunciations of their faith. The government also continues to harass, threaten, intimidate, detain, and sentence lawyers and disbar human rights defenders who have assisted religious communities or religious freedom advocates in cases against the state.
“Vietnam must do more to respect religious freedom. The state visit provides a unique opportunity for President Obama to press for change,” continued Dr. Swett. “Opening more space for independent religious activity and freeing jailed lawyers who defend the rights of individuals and communities is a must.”
In December 2012, lawyer and human rights defender Le Quoc Quan, who has assisted Catholics in seeking return of church properties, was again arrested. Mr. Quan currently is detained incommunicado in Hoa Lo Prison with no access to his lawyer and family. Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, who in 2010 represented the residents of the village of Con Dau against a government land grab of their village and cemetery, was charged with propaganda against the state. He now is serving a seven-year sentence based on other activism and is in poor health.
Given these systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations, USCIRF continues to recommend that Vietnam be designated as a “country of particular concern (CPC), placing it among the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. The Commission has recommended CPC status for Vietnam since 2001. The State Department did so in 2004 and 2005, but removed the designation in 2006 because of progress toward fulfilling a binding agreement.
June 4, 2013
[Video Source: Subcommittee Hearing: U.S. Relations with Vietnam ]
In a recent U.S subcommittee hearing on the continuing repression by the Vietnamese Government, Ven. Danh Tol testified before the committee that the government of Vietnam continues to violate religious freedom and make every action to control and put the Khmer-Krom Theravada Buddhism under state control.
The committee chair, Rep. Chris Smith, shows great awareness and sympathy towards the testimony of Ven. Danh Tol and several other victims of repression by government of Vietnam. Rep. Smith asserts that Vietnam continues “to violate a wide range of fundamental human rights” and urged his government to take more measure to address the issue with Vietnam.
Among those concrete measures, Smith wants Vietnam to be re-listed by the US State Department as a country of concern because the persecution of ethnic or religious group and other violations including forcible land confiscations from its own citizens.
Venerable was a direct victim of the Vietnamese government’s religious persecution, he was imprisoned in 2007 for participating in religious demonstration which demanded end to oppression on Khmer-Krom Buddhism.
“Khmer Krom monks do not have freedom of expression, cannot access information, because access to information is considered a revolution by the monks,” he said. “That’s why communist Vietnam always prevents monks’ rights.” Said the Venerable.
The Venerable also stresses the need for Khmer-Krom Buddhist institution exist without political control by Vietnam as it does today.
The act of the Vietnam shows that it does not wish to see the “continue progress of the Theravada Buddhism, but to end it.”
Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks are of particular favorite for the government’s target of torture, humiliation, and persecution when it comes to religious repression.
Along with this note, Venerable Danh Tol pointed out that there are just as many Vietnamese Buddhist monks and religious leaders who are also vocal about the religious freedom issue, but only Khmer-Krom monks are targeted for forced defrocking.
June 4th, 2013
An organized global action is under way today as the Khmer-Krom community and their supporters have gathered in front of Vietnamese Embassies around the world to protest against a downward spiraling trend of human rights conditions and abuses against their indigenous culture in South Vietnam.
Events precipitating to this on scale global protest arises first from the arrest of a Khmer-Krom buddhist monk, Venerable Ly Chanda of Prey Chop temple from Soc Trang (Kleang) province in Vietnam on May 16th, 2013. The Vietnamese government had accused the Venerable of listening to and providing false interview to an oversea human rights NGO.
Despite the fact that the Vietnamese constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech, press, and opinion, it did not stop the government from exercising it’s communist state power to discriminate against and prosecute Venerable Ly Chanda on charges which amounts to no more than listening to the radio and giving an interview.
In this flagrant disregard for the Venerable’s rights as declared in country’s constitution and in violation of the International Declarations of Human Rights, authorities ordered armed police to desecrate the temple, breaking windows, and forcing down the pagoda door to forcibly remove the Venerable where he was then taken for interrogation and tortured; injected with unknown substance, and beaten until unconscious.
Following the humiliating treatment of Venerable Ly Chanda and his subsequent televised public defrocking and coerced confession, authorities expanded their crackdown and arrested two more Buddhist monks, the abbot of Ta Set pagoda, Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol. Along with the religious leaders, two laypersons, Tra Tha, and Thach Phum Rich were also arrested on charges of supporting the monks. Their whereabouts and safety today, remains unknown.
The protests, which is being undertaken around the world, including Paris-France, Australia, Canada, Cambodia, and the U.S.A condemns these arrests, and the infringement upon Khmer-Krom communities by the state, to exercise and practice their culture without fear and intimidation.
In addition to the demands on Vietnam for immediate and unconditional release of the religious leaders, the Khmer-Krom communities appeal to the U.S to re-list Vietnam under the CPC (countries of particular concern) when it comes to religious freedom.
A U.S based protest will be staged today in front of the Vietnamese embassy at Washington D.C from 11:00 A.M to 12:30 PM at the address below:
1233 20th Street., Washington, DC 20036
National & international media are invited to join the Khmer-Krom communities as they continue their global action to call for respect of their human rights in Vietnam.
Photos from protests from around the world:
4th June 2013
Today, we gather in front of the Vietnamese Embassies in Washington DC (United States), in Ottawa (Canada), in Paris (France), in Canberra (Australia), in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and elsewhere to protest the recent human rights and religious persecution of our Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks from Prey Chop Temple and Ta Set Temple as well as several Khmer-Krom Buddhist followers by the Vietnamese government.
We are here to DEMAND Vietnam stop prosecuting our Khmer-Krom Monks for exercising for their rights to express their opinions.
Our Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks are the heart and soul of the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples in our homeland. To defrock, torture and imprison our defenseless Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks is a direct violation of the International Religious Freedom Act, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Vietnam often boasts at the international arena that it respects the rights of all people living within its borders but recent events tell a different disturbing tale especially with its treatment of the indigenous Khmer-Krom peoples.
On May 16th 2013, Vietnam authorities attempted to defrock three Khmer-Krom monks in Soc Trang for allegedly contacting outside organizations. The first monk, Venerable Ly Chanh Da from Prey Chop Temple was taken by Vietnamese authorities, forced to defrock, tortured until unconscious and called the Khmer-Krom villagers to pick him up at the police station. When the local villages picked him, he was incoherent and they tried to administrate medication. Out of respect to the unjustifiable defrocking, they placed Buddhist robes back on Venerable Ly Chanh Da. Vietnamese authorities came back with a television crew and publicly defrocked Venerable Ly Chanh Da again and forced him to confession on live television. Three women who supported Venerable Ly Chanh Da was also taken into custody and remains in jail.
More than a hundred Vietnamese police and local authority representatives then headed to Ta Set temple and tried to defrock Abbot Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol. With the help of 300 followers who believed in the monks’ innocence, they were unsuccessful. Abbot Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Tra Tha and Thach Phum Rich were captured on May 20th 2013. Their conditions and whereabouts remains unknown. We greatly fear for their safety.
On behalf of our defenseless Buddhist monks and people who are currently held in the custody, we ask Vietnam to release Abbot Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol immediately without condition on harm.
• Reaffirm and remind Vietnam that under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), our Buddhist Monks have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
• Ask Vietnam to stop violating Article 5 of the UDHR which states that No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
• Remind Vietnam Article 19 of the UDHR, states that our Khmer-Krom monks have the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
• Ask Vietnam to stop using our sacred Theravada Buddhism religion and our monks as a means to extend political control over our people.
• Remind Vietnam to treat our Khmer-Krom monks with respect and dignity.
• Ask Vietnam to release Thach Phum Rich and Tra Tha safely to their families.
• Ask Vietnam to provide much needed medical aid and to allow Venerable Ly Chanh Da to re-ordain as a Buddhist monk and return safely to his temple.
• Ask the U.S. Secretary of State to put Vietnam back on the list of “Country of Particular Concern”
• We urgent appeal to all civic society, Foreign Embassies as well as all citizens that respect and support human rights and religious freedom to help us spread the words about the flight of our defenseless monks and civilians.
We are here because we have the right to conduct peaceful demonstration to protest the violent actions of the Vietnamese government has committed against our voiceless people. We know for a fact that if we did this in our homeland of Kampuchea-Krom, we would be prosecuted; our monks would be defrocked and imprisoned.
We are here today to remind Vietnam that Human Rights and Religious Freedom are rights, not privilege. Stop the violence against our people. Stop treating us as second class citizens. We only ask for equal, unbiased rights that guaranteed under UDHR and UNDRIP.