Press Release: KKF Calls On International Pressure To End Religious Persecutions and Also The Unconditional Release of Human Rights Defenders

KKF Press Release 

To Whom It May Concern,

On behalf of the Khmer-Krom families in Soc Trang Province, we would like to urgently appeal and notify you of the unfair trials of two Khmer-Krom monks and six followers who face 10 months to 6 years for exercising their freedom of speech, opinion and association.

On the 25th of September, 2013 in Prey Chop Commune, Lai Hoa Village, Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province, four Khmer-Krom people were sentenced for up to a year for creating “Public Disorder”. Supporters of Thach Thuol on Trial

  1. Lam Thi Loan – Born 1957 – 1 year prison.
  2. Ly Thi Danh – Born 1970 – 1 year prison.
  3. Ly Minh Hai – Born 1978 – 11 months prison.
  4. Tang Phola – Born 1976 – 10 months prison Continue reading “Press Release: KKF Calls On International Pressure To End Religious Persecutions and Also The Unconditional Release of Human Rights Defenders”

Khmer Krom Imprisoned for Standing up for Venerable Ly Chanh Da

Vinh Chau, Soc Trang, 26th September 2013 – Four Khmer Krom people were trialed on 25th September 2013  have been handed a one year sentence for speaking up on behalf of Abbot Ly Chanh Da, who has fled to Thailand seeking asylum.

Khmer Krom from Prey Chop stands TrialScreenshot of Prey Chop Trial on 25th September 2013.

Accused of creating “Public disorder”, Lam Thi lon, Ly Thi Danh, Ly Minh Hai and Tang Pha Lan was simply exercising their right to speak  and standing up for what they thought was right  but have been instead treated as criminals.

The Khmer Krom people had no legal representation or lawyer present to represent their side of the story. Instead they were most likely to coerce into the submission of guilty plea deal as a means of getting a lighter sentence. 

One year may seem like a light and fair sentence based on the fact that the accused gave “honest confession, are of ethnic Khmer with low education, limited legal awareness”* but in actually fact is a heavy sentence for the four accused.

One year in prison means a year of isolation and torture for “beating a drum to alert local villagers that Vietnam authorities were defrocking one of the monks at Prey Chop temple”. Instead of being called to the police station and given a warning and or fine, the individuals were arrested and imprisoned, given an unfair trial and sentenced to one year.

News from the Villagers from Prey Chop revealed sixteen others have been fined $60 for participating in the so called” Public Disorder” incident.

According to inside news from Ta Sek temple, a lawyer hired by the family of one of the accused was told via a Vietnamese police officer that the Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich, and Thach Tha refused to use the lawyer.The lawyer did not even have a chance to see or speaker directly with the accused.

It is yet another example of a legal system that remains unfair and discriminates against the Khmer Krom. The charge of “Public Disorder” remains a powerful tool in which Vietnam authorities use for political prosecution and silencing of dissents.

PLEASE COME BACK FOR MORE UPDATES ON TOMORROW TA SET TRIAL.

 

Vietnamese Authorities To Transfer and Trial 3 Venerable and Supporters In Religious Persecution Case

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:

[youtube]3ZMef1nAtGQ[/youtube]

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

KKF Urgent Appeals – September 24, 2013

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

Continue reading “KKF Urgent Appeals – September 24, 2013”

Khmer-Krom Prisoners of Conscience

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.

KKF Urges U.S. DoS for Intervention to Release Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks

On May 28, 2013, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), represented by Mr. Hoang Duong, and Degar Foundation, represented by Mr. Kok Ksor, met the Country Officers of the U.S. Department of States (U.S. DoS).

The meeting started from 11a.m. to noon. During the meeting, Mr. Hoang Duong informed the Country Officers of the U.S. DoS regarding to the recent religious oppression that the Vietnamese Authority just committed against the Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks: Venerable Ly Chanh Da of Prey Chop temple; Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol of Ta Set temple, in Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province.

On behalf of KKF, Mr. Mr. Duong urged the U.S. DoS for intervention to urge Vietnam to release Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol without any conditions and allow Venerable Ly Chanh Da to re-ordain as Buddhist Monk.

Mr. Duong also conveyed KKF’s support of the statement of Chairman Ed Royce of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee calling on the Secretary of State to place the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on the list as a “Country of Particular Concerns” with respect to violation of religious freedom and abuses against Khmer-Krom monks and the Khmer-Krom people in the Mekong Delta (South Vietnam).

Vietnam Authority Arrests Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thuol

Urgent Appeal to Release Khmer-Krom Buddhist Monks and Two Civilians

The latest news from Kampuchea-Krom have revealed that Venerable Thach Thuol and Lieu Ny from Tra Set temple, Vinh Hai Commune,  Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang and two others, Thach Phum Rich and Thach Tha have been apprehended by Vietnamese Authorities on the evening of May 20th 2013.

Their location and condition are unknown at this point.

KKF is concerned about the safety of these individuals and would like to seek the help of the foreign embassies in Vietnam and Human Rights organizations around the world to urge Vietnam to:

  • Release Venerable Lieu Ny, Venerable Thach Thuol, Thach Phum Rich and Thach Tha without any conditions.
  • Do not torture Venerable Lieu Ny and Venerable Thach Thoul to force them confess their allege crimes that Vietnam accuses them just like Vietnam did to Ven. Ly Chanh Da of Prey Chop temple.

Vietnamese Authority Defrocked and Tortured Venerable Ly Chanh Da

Venerable Ly Chanh Da

On May 16, 2013, Vietnamese Authority sent Police to arrest Venerable Ly Chanh Da at Prey Chop temple, Prey Chop commune, Lai Hoa village, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province. The police took him to local police station in Lai Hoa village, defrocked him.

According to a Khmer-Krom woman in Prey Chop commune, she told VOKK Internet Radio (vokk.net) that the villagers went to the local police station in Prey Chop commune and saw Ven. Ly Chanh Da was thrown outside of the Police station unconscious. He was wearing a T-shirt and a short pant. The villagers took him back to one of the villagers’ house, helped to make him to become conscious, and dressed him up with the Buddhist rope. When he was awake, he could barely talk and told the villagers that he was tortured and injected two shots under his arms, then he felt unconscious.

There are many polices are now in the Prey Chop temple. The Vietnamese Authority does not allow Ven. Ly Chanh Da to go back to his temple. He is staying at the villager’s house now. He is in a very bad health condition. Sometime he cannot even remember his own name.

On May 13, 2013, at 4pm local time, the Vietnamese polices of Soc Trang province arrested three Khmer-Krom women at Prey Chop commune, Lai Hoa village, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province. These women are:

  1. Mrs Lam Thi Xang Lan, born 1957
  2. Mrs. Ly Thi Danh, born 1970
  3. Mrs. Ly Thi Sa Bon, born 1965

Mrs. Lam Thi Xang Lan and Mrs. Ly Thi Danh were arrested at their home and taken to imprison in Soc Trang province. Mrs. Ly Thi Sa Bon was summoned, arrested, and imprisoned at the prison of Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province. The Vietnamese authority arrested the above three Khmer-Krom women because they supported Venerable Ly Chanh Da. They do not want Vietnamese authority to defrock Ven. Ly Chanh Da because he does not violate any Buddhist rules.

On behalf of the voiceless Khmer-Krom in Prey Chop commune, we would like to urge the foreign embassies in Vietnam and civil societies around the world to urgently request Vietnam to:

  • Provide medical treatment for Venerable Ly Chanh Da. If something happens to Venerable Ly Chanh Da, the Vietnamese authority must be responsible for it.
  • Allow Venerable Ly Chanh Da to go back to his temple.
  • Release Mrs Lam Thi Xang Lan, Mrs. Ly Thi Danh, and Mrs. Ly Thi Sa Bon immediately without any condition.

Vietnam Authority Arrests Three Khmer-Krom Women

On May 13, 2013, at 4pm local time, the Vietnamese polices of Soc Trang province arrested three Khmer-Krom women at Prey Chop commune, Lai Hoa village, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province. These women are:

1. Mrs Lam Thi Xang Lan, born 1957
2. Mrs. Ly Thi Danh, born 1970
3. Mrs. Ly Thi Sa Bon, born 1965

No one knows where Mrs. Lam Thi Xang Lan and Mrs. Ly Thi Danh are being imprisoned. Mrs. Ly Thi Sa Bon is being imprisoned at the prison of Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province.

According to the villagers at the Prey Chop commune, these three ladies relate to Venerable Ly Chanda whom were threatened to be defrocked by the Vietnamese authority last March. The villagers believe that the Vietnamese authority accused these ladies of supporting Ven Ly Chanda who was participating with other Khmer-Krom Buddhist monks at Prey Chop temple to demand Ven. Thach Houl to resign on March 3, 2013.

Venerable Thach Houl is an Abbot of Prey Chop temple, a member of the Vietnamese Communist Party, and also a member of the Vietnamese Congress. Ven. Thach Houl used to use his power as the Vietnamese congress member went to Ta Set temple to defrock Ven. Ly Sol in 2011. Lately, Ven. Thach Houl forbids Ven. Ly Chanda to teach Cambodian and Buddhism at his temple. The Buddhist monks at Prey Chop temple couldnot stand with what Ven. Thach Houl has done, so they demanded him to resign. With supported by Vietnamese authority, Ven. Thach Houl is still the Abbot of the Prey Chop temple.

The villagers also suspect that Vietnamese authority arrested these Khmer-Krom women to put pressure on Ven. Ly Chanda to confess his alleged crime and self-defrock.

For their safety, the anonymous villagers urge the world community to ask Vietnamese authority to release these women. The Vietnamese should not use these women as a pressure to defrock a Khmer-Krom Buddhist monk who just wants to practice his religion peacefully. The villagers also urge the Vietnamese government to stop silent Khmer-Krom by arresting because they stand up to support for justice and basic rights.

Vietnamese Authority detains a Khmer-Krom family

On April 12, 2013, Mr. Ly Chhuon, an Editor-in-Chief of the PreyNokorNews magazine in Cambodia, his wife and his daughter left Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to visit his relatives in Kampuchea-Krom (Mekong Delta) during the Cambodian New Year. His family wants to celebrate Cambodian New Year with his relatives in his homeland.

When Mr. Ly Chhuon and his family arrived at the border of Cambodia and Vietnam, they were not allowed to enter Vietnam and had been searched by the Vietnamese custom officers. They have been interrogated, detained and their whereabouts are still unknown.

There were many cases that the Khmer-Krom abroad had been issued the Visa to visit their relatives in Mekong Delta, but when they arrived at their airport, they were denied to enter Vietnam. On March 22, Mr. Son Subert, an adviser to the King of Cambodia, and his friends were stopped at the border and not allowed to enter Vietnam even they had Visa issued by the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia. Mr. Son Subert planned to travel to Vietnam and visit his relatives in Preah Trapeang (Tra Vinh) province.

When the Khmer-Krom people visit Vietnam, they have always been interrogated at the airport or the border. While visiting their relatives, the Khmer-Krom people always face intimidating situations. For example, the Vietnamese authority sends Polices (without wearing uniform) pretending to visit them. The Police start questioning about the activities of the Khmer-Krom abroad. Some time, the Vietnamese Police even ask the Khmer-Krom to work as secret agents for the Vietnamese government to monitor the activities of the Khmer-Krom abroad.

It is time for Vietnam to stop violating the basic human rights against the Khmer-Krom. The Khmer-Krom abroad should have their rights to freely visit their homeland. They should not be denied entering Vietnam. They should not be interrogated or detained either.