Category: Human Rights Monitor

2007 CEDAW Conclusion

The Khmer women are pleased that Vietnam has completed its obligation under CEDAW to write the report and meet with CEDAW. We hope that this spirit of cooperation continues with the Khmer people, the other main ingredient in international protection and promotion of human rights, the citizens of the respected country reporting. The Khmer people were not consulted in the drafting of this report. We seek a role in the implementation of the recommendations issued by the committee. These are real people with real problems and unless something is done immediately, the fate of these indigenous peoples will be mortally challenged.

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Article 10

The term Education should not limited to the Vietnamese language rather; it should include the languages of the indigenous peoples as well. In most instances, the Vietnamese government has prohibited school and temples from teaching the Khmer language, culture, history and tradition. While such acts may ensure the successful integration of the indigenous peoples and other minorities into the Vietnamese mainstream society, it erodes and violates the rights of indigenous peoples to preserve their unique identity and culture. In the heavily Khmer populated areas of Preah Trapeang [renamed Tra Vinh], only 10% of the Khmer-Krom people have a high school or higher education qualification. Over 70% of the Khmer-Krom women and men have no schooling. These figures are similar in all other provinces such as Khleang [Soc Trang], An Giang and Pol Leav [Bac Lieu]. This is a clear violation of this article. This lack of educational support and structure has meant that Khmer-Krom women are limited to becoming only farmers and peasants. No encouragement or initiatives exist to help young Khmer-Krom women obtain higher education or improve employment. Those who finish high school are faced with a lack of job opportunities and are often limited to working as farmers or teachers. Others have been forced to work in under paid jobs, working as servants to wealthy Vietnamese people, while thousands of Khmer-Krom girls have been falsely lured into trafficking. The State of Viet Nam must implement programs and initiatives to encourage the further development of the indigenous women by offering more scholarships for higher education abroad as well as opening English study centers to maximize their employment opportunities at the local, national and international level. Khmer youth and women must be provided equal access to education.

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Article 7

7.1 Ensuring women’s rights to vote and stand for elections Many indigenous women such as the Khmer-Krom women are certainly not aware of their very rights to vote and stand for elections. They see voting as a duty rather than a right. The Khmer-Krom women rarely stand for elections due to the unwelcoming environment and the unfamiliar territory. They go to vote, most of time, for the Vietnamese candidates, which they hardly know about the candidates’ background. The Khmer-Krom women, as well as the majority of the Khmer-Krom community, lack the overall understanding of Viet Nam’s electoral system at all levels of governments. Their beliefs are that the only people who can run for elections are the Vietnamese. Khmer women don’t know about the right to vote, let alone be a candidate to provide leadership in their community. Facing the social stigma and limited awareness of the importance of women’s participation in the political life and community activities, most indigenous women stay away from the whole electoral process.

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Article I

While Viet Nam appears to appreciate the underlying difficulty in promoting women’s rights, it needs to further define discrimination of women to include but not limit to the discrimination concerning minorities and indigenous women. Of primary concern is the situation of the Khmer-Krom women, who are currently facing double discrimination. First, they are discriminated because they are women and secondly because they are Khmer-Krom. Some examples include: • Miss. Dao Hai Ngan, aged 15 was raped by a Vietnamese authoritiy in Can Tho and despite appeals by UNPO and KKF, no acknowlegement or action have been initated by the Vietnamese authorities.

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Kampuchea Krom is the Khmer name for the Mekong Delta region of the current state of Viet Nam. Kampuchea Krom measures up to 68,000 square kilometers and is the traditional homeland of Khmer Krom. The indigenous peoples of Kampuchea Krom are the Khmer Krom, the ancient descendents of the people of Nokor Phnom (or Funan in the corrupted Chinese translation) empire.


A Shadow Report to CEDAW 2007

Exploring the Roots of Discrimination Against Khmer Women in Kampuchea Krom (Vietnam) And Recognizing the Rights of CEDAW Now

Determining the Policies & Practices for the Elimination of Double Discrimination And Forging a Future of Fundamental Freedoms

A Shadow Report Shining the Light of Freedom in Kampuchea Krom

Researched and Written by the Women’s Commission of the Khmer Krom Federation (KKF)

Mr. Chhean Vam’s Testimony: Cochin China Affair

Cochin China or Kampuchea-Krom was the South-Eastern part of Cambodia when France colonised it in 1862. It was transferred to Vietnam on the 4th of June 1949. Kampuchea-Krom covers an area of 67,700 km2 with approximately 8 million Khmer-Krom people living throughout 21 provinces in the Mekong Delta. Approximately 95% of these people practice Theravada Buddhism, which translates to “Little Vehicle”. Khmer-Krom are the indigenous people of the land possessing their own civilisation and ancestral culture. Following the transfer of Kampuchea-Krom to Vietnam, successive Vietnamese governments have enforced a systematic policy of Vietnamisation on the Khmer-Krom people. This has placed the indigenous culture, religion, and language of the Khmer-Krom people in jeopardy. The Khmer-Krom people from several provinces are progressively assimilated and departed from their original root including their language and culture. Before World War II, more than 700 Khmer-Krom Buddhist temples existed; due to political-motivated and premeditated destruction under the policy of Vietnamisation, only 560 Khmer-Krom Buddhist temples remain. In spite of their suffering and political assassinations perpetrated by the Vietnamese, the Khmer-Krom people are completely ignored and unknown to the world. Their social and cultural structures are being gradually destroyed and their history is being skewed. These are the reasons why the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF) appeals the international community for help, in order to protect the rights of the Khmer-Krom people so that they may exist with their own language and cultural identity. The actions of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation are based on the principle of non-violence. One of its actions is to collect all testimonies and academic research on Kampuchea-Krom in order to reconstitute its identity and history. The KKF had asked Mr. Chhean Vam, a fellow Cambodian intellectual, to write an article on his knowledge of Kampuchea-Krom. Mr. Chhean was educated in France and became Prime Minister of Cambodia in 1948. His writing deals with what he called the “Cochin China Affair”, the conditions in which Kampuchea-Krom was transferred to Vietnam by France. The Cochin China Affair is unique and unprecedented in colonisation history; it is the first case of a colony being transferred by its original coloniser to another. What follows is the text that Mr. Chhean Vam had written just before his death on the 16th of January, 2000. The KKF and all of the Khmer-Krom people would like to express their deepest sadness and sincere condolences to Mr. Chhean family. Please read the testimony with the understanding that certain dates and details are approximated. Mr. Chhean Vam wrote his text in April 1999, 50 years after the Cochin China Affair, which occurred in April 1949. Thank you very much for your precious support in favour of the protection of Khmer Kampuchea-Krom rights. Vien Thach KKF Representative for Europe Affairs > Read the testimony text in PDF

Son Son’s Testimony: The Transfer of Cochin-China (Kampuchea-Krom) to the Emperor Bao Dai of Vietnam

In 1863, His Majesty NORODOM, the King of Cambodia requested the France to protect our Country against the infringements of our neighbors. The France established the protectorate over Cambodia, but made our territory of Kampuchea-Krom its colony of Cochin-China. In 1949, without consulting Cambodia, the French Government MRP, Mr. Costes-Floret decided to cede the Cochin-China to the Emperor Bao Dai, hoping by this transfer to preserve the essential privileges of the French in Indo-China. It is a remark of the Imperatrice Nam Phuong, a catholic as the MRP. Under the order of His Majesty King NORODOM Sihanouk, a Cambodian Delegation (composed of LL. EE Chhean Vam, Thonn Ouk, Sonn Voeunsai and myself) were sent to the France to protest against this transfer, and to monitor the debates concerning this decision. The debates started at the Assembly of the French Union at Verseilles. The President of this Assembly was Her Highness, the Princess Ping Peang Yukanthor, and the principal Cambodian members were Mr. Pan Yung, Sim Var, Thonn Ouk, Sok Chhong. Thanks to the President and to all Cambodian Members, the Assembly of the French Union voted an unfavorable opinion to this bill of transfer. The French National Assembly sent the bill that presented by Government MRP, relating to this transfer, to the Council of the Republic, where we found the effective defenders in the person of Mr. Marc Rucart, a theosophist, and among the Gaullistes (of which Mr. Jacques Soustelle) all of the Friends of Her Highness Ping Peang Yukanthor. The Council of the Republic was presided by S.E. Monerville, who had shown much sympathy to our cause, and enabled us to occupy the official platform to closely monitor all debates. The Council of the Republic returned the bill to the French National Assembly for a second talk. Our Delegation worked a lot: we shared the works to approach various political parties. Against our attempt, Mr. Frederic Dupont who refused assisting to his group. The Socialists initially promised us to vote against the bill to transfer of Cochin-China, but they had been solicited strongly by the Government MRP. Mr. Gaston Deferre, to comfort us, had presented a motion bearing his name, demanding the French Government to take care ahead of times all the pending questions between the Protectorate of Cambodia and the Colony of Cochin-China, before transfering this colony to Vietnam. The Deferre motion was voted for by a large majority of the French National Assembly. Among the pending questions, there is the border between the two Countries. The Vinh-Te Canal was manually labored and digged by the mixture of Khmer-Vietnamese, must be the natural border, and not as many kilometers in inside of our territory as it was traced. There has been also the incorporation of several Khmer villages into the territory of Cochin-China because the French plantations located in the Cochin-China having the needs of manual labors… It will be necessary for us to consult with all the files of the French Ministry of Colonies to raise all the discussion with the French administrators of Protectorate who defend our interests, and that of Cochin-China who had the tendency to support the French colony at our expenses. There is also the question of the status of the Khmer minority in Cochin-China (Khmer Krom). The French Government recognized the Khmer of Cochin-China: 1) the right to practice their Buddhist religion of Small Vehicle, aside from such right has been recognized by the Vietnamese for Chauvay Son Kuy who accepted to be put to death in exchange of this right, 2) the right of celebrate all of the Khmer Festivals, 3) the right to raise the flag of national Khmer, 4) the right to teach and to learn the Khmer language, 5) the right to have a Khmer governor in the districts and in the provinces of Khmer majority, 6) the right to have the Khmer deputies at the Assembly of the Cochin-China etc… However there are now in Kampuchea-Krom 683 Vat (Buddhist temples), 40,000 Khmer-Krom Monks and a Khmer population approaching of 8 millions people. By accepting the transfer of Cochin-China, Vietnam must also accept all obligations from the France: in particular the recognition of our borders, and the status of Khmer Kampuchea-Krom which has been recognized by the France … Our Buddhist Monks, as well as our Compatriots of Kampuchea-Krom, are subjected to inhumane treatements. Such as our Monks are disrobed, imprisonned if not killed, if they show too attaching to the Mother Country, to defense the Khmer heart, our traditions, our patriotism. Associations of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom can provide the details of these inhumane treatments. In the negotiations with Vietnam, it is very desirable to raise all these questions concerning the national interest, and the rights of our Compatriots of Kampuchea-Krom. Phnom-Penh, February 27, 1994 Signed: Son Sann Senior Members of the National Assembly