UNPFII Fifth Session Item 5: Future Works

Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
15-26 May 2006 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegations: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Item 5: Future Work
Speaker: Thach Samon

Madam chair,

The Vietnamese government continues to highlight the importance of having credible evidence to present to members of the forum during yesterdays intervention. In the hope and good spirit of cooperation, we believe that our Khmer Krom issues can be resolved by encouraging participation and consultation between representatives of indigenous peoples and Vietnam representatives.

We were encouraged when Vietnam said it is committed to working in partnership based on “reliable information with good intentions.” Our work done at the UN PFII is in the same spirit. We receive information from the villages directly from indigenous peoples enduring human harm and persistent & systematic gross rights violations. Our campaign of compassion, peace and justice is based on the spiritual practices our traditional leaders have practiced since time immemorial. Our Buddhist beliefs are rooted in good intentions in a search for the truth.

We applaud the comments by Chair Vicki Tauli Corpuz to have a more direct dialogue between indigenous peoples and governments with UN specialized agencies assisting through resources and rights based policy approaches that can improve the daily living conditions of indigenous peoples. Therefore, we humbly offer a proposal that builds upon the important work this session.

In this regard, we would like to reaffirm our recommendation to have a parallel session next year in which a panel consisting of Khmer Krom and Vietnam representatives engage in a positive and constructive dialogue on Vietnam’s current publication on the MDGs. It is through such exchange and dialogue that we may begin the process of ensuring indigenous peoples participation in all matters that affect them.

This session will provide a positive followup exercise that can build on the important work of Vietnam in relation to MDGs. The UN PFII already recognized the crucial step of Vietnam to author a publication providing information on the MDGs and the initial steps to meet theses goals. We will build upon this act of goodwill to share this document with the indigenous Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom. Together, we can schedule a parallel session at the UN PFII where we can sit at the same table to share the steps taken from publication of a periodical to positive practices to protect and promote the human rights of the indigenous peoples.

We look forward to be a partner throughout the year until we meet again next year at the sixth session. We suggest the panel can be a follow up to the eight MDGs themes of our previous sessions and be a case study for Asia and the world. We aim to have Khmer Krom, Vietnamese government representatives, UN Specialized agencies and PFII members to unite in focusing on realizing the human rights enshrined in UN human rights machinery and the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you Madam Chair.

UNPFII Fifth Session Item 4: Speech by Khmer Krom Buddhist Association

Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
15-26 May 2006 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmer Krom Buddhist Association
Speaker: Thach Samon on behalf of Venerable Liv Pov
Item 4: Human Rights

Madam Chair,

Buddhist monks play crucial roles in the preservation of tradition and culture of our people living in Kampuchea Krom. They are the core of unity for the Khmer Krom people through it spirituality guidance, teaching of indigenous Khmer language and practice of traditional ceremonies.

Vietnam has taken the first step in recognising the importance of Buddhists in indigenous communities and the general communities by signing the treaty on religious freedom last year. However, much needs to be done to ensure that our Buddhist monks at the local level are aware of such treaty and that such acts coincides with local laws.

In this regards, we would like to recommend the following on behalf of thousands of Buddhist monks in Kampuchea Krom:

• The Vietnamese government needs to respect the rights of Buddhist monks to practise their religion and community events in accordance to their traditional time frame rather than at the convenient of the State.

• All decisions or changes to ceremony dates should be done in full consultation with Buddhist monks with respect to our theme of free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.

• We encourage the Vietnamese government to have an open door policy which allows for invitation of Special Rapporteurs on Situation of Fundamental Freedom and Human Rights and other related UN Special Rapporteurs to verify and investigate reported human right violations and allow for effective and constructive follow up.

• Sufficient and long term funding needs to be allocated to Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and temple to aid and promote the teaching of the Khmer language, preservation of the temples and cultural events.

Madam Chair, Vietnam has committed itself to the improving the lives of its people including its indigenous peoples by signing 7 of the 12 treaties available. These treaties need to be translated in the indigenous peoples language, consulted with indigenous Buddhist monks and their people through creation of forums to increase their awareness and participation.

Lastly, we would like to have a parallel session in which the Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and the Vietnamese government work together on a panel to discuss the treaties and its implication for practises of Buddhist monks and other cultural related activities. Policies have and continue to be written without prior consent of Buddhist monks. Now is the time to change this. The interests of indigenous Buddhists will only be represented when there is a recognition and respect for their spirituals role in the community unity and cultural identity preservation.

Thank you Madam Chair.

 

UNPFII Fifth Session Item 4: Intervention by KKF

Fifth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
15-26 May 2006 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Sothy Kien
Item 4: Human Rights

Madam Chair,

We are pleased with the development of the UN PFII over its five years of existence. Already in its short history, we the Khmer Krom peoples have been able to do more in our diplomacy efforts in a two week period than in our attempts over two centuries to deal in a constructive manner that transforms the culture of conflict to a culture of compassion, peace and justice.

It is evident why this is the case when listening to the tone and attitude of the Vietnamese government on Wednesday. Instead of engaging in a positive, constructive process, the government maintains its position of “resolutely rejects all groundless information” that perpetuates its policies of exclusion of our people in decision-making, elimination of our distinct culture and cosmology, and ultimately extermination.

We are here in the United Nations exercising our right of self-determination. In Vietnam it is prohibited and even punished with stories of torture and turmoil. We continue to self-identity as indigenous people and while Vietnam bans us from realizing our basic human rights in our homeland of Kampuchea Krom since time immemorial, the global community knows at the United Nations that self-identification is one of the first steps of the realization of self-determination.

We also acknowledge Mr Pasharam’s comment and repeat his quote, “How can we hope to achieve the MDGs if they refused to recognize that we are the indigenous people of Vietnam?” Identifying and accepting who are the indigenous people is the responsibility of Vietnam government. The Vietnamese government continues to use the term ethnic minorities instead of indigenous peoples even after our exchange last year where we believed we set the record straight.

We thank Willie Littlechild for his intervention relating to Vietnam and its aggressive nature towards our organizations. This type of aggression was seen by our forum members from last year in which they also accused us of proving false information and said that we had no right whatsoever to talk about Vietnam.

He also brought an important point about self identification. The Khmer Krom people have the right exercise our self-determination. We want to engage in a positive dialogue to protect and promote human rights for all cultures to live together in harmony and hope not hatred and hurtful tones.

Madam Chair we recommend the Vietnamese government have an open door policy which allows for invitation of Special Rapporteurs on Situation of Fundamental Freedom and Human Rights and other related UN Special Rapporteurs to verify and investigate reported human right violations and allow for easy, effective and constructive follow up.

The Vietnam government should create laws and regulations that are translated into positive changes in the lives of people in indigenous communities. It should also bear in mind legislation in other countries that have resulted an implementation gap witnessed in other countries by the SR .

We applaud the effort of Vietnam to create a publication focusing on the MDGs and also echo the praise from the chair Vicki Tauli Corpuz on the creation of such a tool to meet the MDGs. We would like to propose a parallel session next year as a follow up on this years theme between the Khmer Krom and the Vietnamese government together on a panel to discuss what can happen when indigenous peoples engage their governments in a spirit of cooperation to secure social justice for all peoples. Next year, we can build upon the publication to make a difference in the peoples lives in Kampuchea Krom. We hope the government will also put out their hand in peace to show how the Asia region can be a leader in the promotion and protection of human rights. We look forward to bringing the words alive off the paper with positive actions under the theme of the Second Decade in partnership. The panel will be a great follow up to the UN PFII fifth session, something that doesn’t always take place enough. Let’s be leaders together for indigenous peoples of Asia.

Our actions aren’t frivolous and vexatious. They are based on fundamental freedoms and our values as the true indigenous peoples. It is our hope that one day we may begin to work together for the common goal to meet the Millennium indigenous peoples of Kampuchea Krom. Our voice must be heard here and in our homeland.

Madam chair, we seek your help in opening a dialogue so we may begin the process of discussing the MDGs through indigenous participation to ensure effective implementation of projects tailor specific to indigenous needs whilst preserving and protecting their interests and culture.

Thank you Madam Chair.

 

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c)

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Miss Maly Son speaks at the Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on item 3(c) on Second International Decade of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples.

Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Marly Son
Item 3(c): Second International Decade of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples

Madame Chair

Vietnam has claimed that it has achieved the MDGs and yet our people continue to live in poverty, many are losing what is left of their ancestral homes because of the current economic recession which has meant that they are unable to sell their crops.

Very few Khmer-Krom people know about the existence of the MDGs in Vietnam. Thus we are very concerned that the MDGs will not be met if Vietnam continues to deny the existence of the Khmer Krom people as the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta.

We are encouraged that Vietnam has supported the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. We believe it is time that we move forward and start the process of recognising the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta.

We would like to suggest the following recommendations:

  • Ask that Vietnam develop a National plan of Action for the Second International Decade in collaboration with the indigenous Khmer Krom people and the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation. We propose an initial meeting during this 8th session making it truly historic and also an honest and genuine shift for solidarity and social justice in Vietnam that could serve as a model for the ASEAN region
  • Ask that Vietnam incorporate a legal framework for the recognition of Khmer-Krom as the Indigenous Peoples into the National Plan of Action.
  • Ensure that the National Plan of Action addresses the current conflicts that exit between Vietnam and Khmer-Krom through traditional and modern conflict resolution mechanisms.
  • Request the help of the Permanent Forum to set up a parallel session in which Vietnam and KKF can have a dialogue to speak about Khmer-Krom issues and how we can work together to resolve them.
  • Seek the help of UN specialized agencies that are currently working in Vietnam such as CEDAW and UNESCO help monitor the current programs created by the government to ensure that it is culturally appropriate for the Khmer Krom people. For example, instead of creating more schools, we propose that UNESCO uses the existing educational institution that exists in Khmer Krom temples and offer bilingual classes so that Khmer Krom children can keep their identity.
  • Ask that Vietnam work in collaboration with our indigenous organization and UN specialized agencies such as UNESCO and CEDAW to create a series of workshops to educate about their basic rights and fundamental freedoms including women’s rights.
  • Ask that CEDAW help create an indigenous Khmer Krom women center in the regional areas of the Mekong Delta so that they can access to support in health care, education and employment.

In true Partnership for action and dignity, we reaffirm that the MDGs will only be successful in this second decade when unrecognised peoples such as our Khmer Krom are included in all decision making processes that affect them.

For six years, we have asked Vietnam to work with us and consult our Khmer Krom people back home. Let us stay true to the goal of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and work together in a genuine partnership so that the Khmer Krom people can fully enjoy their basic rights without fear or discrimination.

Speech by Indigenous Youths

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KKFYC Youth stands behind speaker in support of the statement. They were active in suggesting recommendations to the Indigenous Youth Caucus.

Item 4(f) : Human Rights (French version)

Intervention Jointe de la fédération des Khmers du Kampuchea-Krom et de la fondation des Montagnards
Speaker: Romy THACH

Madame le Président,
Aujourd’hui, le Vietnam affirme à la communauté internationale sa préoccupation des minorités ethniques. Malheureusement la recrudescence des répressions et des arrestations arbitraires à l’encontre de nos peuples suscitent une inquiétude grandissante.

Encore récemment, la province de Mouat Chrouk (Renommé An Giang en vietnamien) a été le théâtre d’actes de terreur. La source Radio Free Asia a rapporté qu’au 8 avril de ce mois, à approximativement 2 :20 du matin, dix voitures de police ont fait irruption dans le village de Chau Leang district de Svay Tong afin d’arrêter M. CHAU Hen et M. CHAU Ut. Des coups de feu on été tirés délibérément sur la foule par les forces de police frappant directement cinq personnes. Parmi les personnes blessées Madame Chau Hen, Madame Neang Phon on été blessées aux jambes. Les enfants de M. Chau Hen ont été retrouvés inconscient après qu’un gaz de substance inconnu ait été lancé dans leur maison. Pendant cette attaque, six villageois Khmer Krom ont été arrêtés et incarcérés par la police. Mme Neang Phon interviewé par Radio Free Asia à confirmé que les cinq personnes blessées ont été refusée de soins à l’hôpital le plus proche.
M. Chau Hen fait parti d’un groupe d’agriculteurs Khmer-Krom qui se sont rassemblés pour demander aux autorités vietnamiennes la raison qui les ont poussés à brûler un pont important utilisé par les fermiers pour rejoindre leurs champs de riz.

Le 11 avril 2008 au environ de 2h de l’après midi, cinquante montagnards chrétiens ont tenu une manifestation pacifique au bureau communal de ia Chia, manifestation qui a été violemment réprimé par les forces de police locale. La protestation populaire plaidait la libération de 3 frères chrétiens Puih H’Bat, Kson Sim, et Rahlon Don ayant été emprisonné pour le simple fait d’avoir soutenu leur foi et refusant d’intégrer l’église agréée par le gouvernement vietnamien. Suite à cette manifestation pacifique, deux croyants supplémentaires Kson Ien et Rahlan Toi ont été emprisonnés, relançant la colère populaire et engendrant un nouveau mouvement de protestation à travers les hautes terres centrales du Vietnam.

Madame le Président, l’échéance des Objectifs de Développement du Millénaire se rapproche et malheureusement la situation des Droits de l’Homme des Khmer-Krom et des Montagnards continue à s’aggraver. Nos peuples représentent au Vietnam plusieurs millions de personnes. C’est pourquoi, pour atteindre les objectifs de développement qu’il s’est fixé, le Vietnam doit reconnaître que l’application de la Déclaration des Droits des Peuples Autochtones est impérative.
D’un point du vue plus général, la reconnaissance des peuples autochtones par les gouvernements qui les administrent à travers le monde est une étape fondamentale du progrès. Organiser et planifier le franchissement de cette étape est un point essentiel qui nécessite la plus grande attention et les plus grands efforts.

Nous recommandons en conséquence que l’instance permanente engage un travail collaboratif avec les états membres sanctionné par un calendrier précis afin que les peuples autochtones tel que les Khmer-Krom et les Montagnards soient reconnus.

Nous demandons que l’instance permanente insiste sur le fait que le Vietnam, en tant que membre non-permanent du conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, doit coopérer plus étroitement avec les mécanismes des Nations Unies sur les droits de l’Homme et avec les rapporteurs spéciaux. Il est regrettable qu’aucun d’entres eux n’ait reçu d’invitation depuis 1998. Le Vietnam devrait particulièrement émettre des invitations aux rapporteurs spéciaux des Nations Unies sur les questions de l’intolérance religieuse, de la torture, sur les peuples autochtones, ainsi que la détention arbitraire.

Pour conclure, rappelons que le mois dernier, au cours de la 7ème session du conseil des Droits de l’Homme à Genève, le Vietnam déclarait être prêt à un dialogue sur la question des Droits de l’Homme. Le Forum Permanent n’est-il pas l’occasion idéale de démontrer cette intention ? Nous sommes prêts et motivé à travailler ensemble pour un avenir des Droits de l’Homme dans la région asiatique.

Item 9: Future Work

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Wednesday 30 April 2008
Speech given by Miss. Sophac Thach on the Future Work agenda item

Madame Chair,

We are particularly encouraged by your response comment on Tuesday towards the statement made by Vietnam representative that, “the purpose of the permanent forum is to have indigenous people to be able to voice their concerns on any issues relating to people in their homeland.”

In Vietnam there is growing evidence that the indigenous Khmer Krom and other indigenous peoples often bear the greatest burden of poverty. There are also social barriers that limit indigenous Khmer Krom and the Montagnard peoples the capacity to take an active role in decision-making through the local community. These include limited access to services, programs and lack of recognition and representation. For example, in Vietnam it is prohibited for people to stand up for their basic rights and/or form any social support organization. The KKF accumulates information from our homeland to present to the global community to protect our fellow Khmer Krom.

Vietnam attends the UNPFII every year and also supported the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We Khmer Krom and Degar peoples are irrefutably indigenous people but yet Vietnam continues to deny our identity and our rights as the indigenous peoples. Vietnam needs to commit more than just rhetoric and repeated statements, we need the dialogue you Madam Chair suggested. We are extended a hand of human rights, reconciliation and peace in our region of Asia to the Vietnam government. Will they accept a historic meeting this week or will we repeat this scenario again next year while more Khmer Krom’s lives worsen?

In light of the forum’s future work, we would like to propose the following recommendations:

  • We seek the Permanent Forum to set a commission for the recognition of Indigenous people which should be invited by the Vietnamese Government.
  • We request that Vietnam to have an open dialogue with our Khmer kampuchea-Krom Federation as a first step.
  • Request the help of the Permanent Forum members and Madame Chair to set up a series of meeting with Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation, Montagnard Foundation and the Vietnam government so that we may begin the process of identifying our indigenous peoples in their respective areas. Only through such dialogue can the needs of our indigenous peoples become visible and the achievement of the MDGs become a collaborative aspiration by all.

    Thank you.

KKF Intervention on Vietnam Government Speech

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Wednesday 30 April 2008
Speech given by Mrs. Somalin Thach

Land is our life, when you take our land you take our life. Today, landlessness is becoming a rampant issue, with many being forced to find other means of survivals, majority of which are not traditional methods of survivals. Due to lack of Vietnam government financial support for the Khmer Krom, Montagnard, and other Indigenous Peoples, migration to the cities has increased.

Lack of job opportunities, increase land confiscation, and failed crops have forced hundreds of thousands of Khmer Krom to migrate to Prey Nokor (Ho Chi Minh City) or across the border to Cambodia. As a result many fall into dangerous traps: sex trafficking rings and forced labour.

For the last four years, since we have joined the forum, all we have heard from Vietnam is the denial of our positive contributions to the Permanent Forum. We thank Madame Chair’s immediate intervention and Special Rapporteur’s ongoing efforts to communicate with States-of-Concern on legitimate claims, and agree that it is time for Vietnam to do more than continue to deny our genuine voice of the indigenous peoples of Vietnam at the forum.

We, members of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation are here today because our people are not allowed to represent themselves in our respective homelands. If Vietnam does not want us to be here, then why is there not a single indigenous representative group from Vietnam here today?

The State’s accusation that our information provided to the forum is falsified. Our interventions are facts assembled by recognized reliable and independent sources such as on Human Rights Watch reports, and the US State Department Human Rights annual reports.

The Vietnamese government has wrongfully accused KKF and MFI of being separatists in order to undermine our credibility, discourage the international community from supporting our organizations, and to convince the UN State Members to sit passively by while Vietnam annihilates us, the Khmer Krom people and the Degar people, who are the original occupants and indigenous peoples of these lands. All we have ever wanted is for the Vietnamese government to respect our rights as humans and as indigenous peoples, which their government affirmed in articles 3 and 4 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

You the settlers accuse us of being separatists. How can we separate from our own homeland? We have never left our land. We are still here after all of the abuses. We are the evidence of the colonialism, not the problem. We would love to live in our homeland together with all people and work together for a better future in Kampuchea Krom for all future generations.

However, we can’t even get the government to begin the first step to meet. If they would meet we would purchase our airfare to return and begin reconciliation.

Vietnam says that our participation is a distraction to the Permanent Forum and governments around the world. This statement is really insulting and an illustration of the lack of respect we receive in our own homeland where we are despised by the officials.

Today, We ask for the support of our indigenous brothers and sisters of the world, government and UN agencies to show to Vietnam that we are indeed making a positive contribution.

Vietnam needs to commit more than just rhetoric and repeated statements,we need the dialogue you Madam chair suggested. We are extended a hand of human rights, reconciliation and peace in our region of Asia to the Vietnam government. Will they accept a historic meeting this week or will we repeat this scenario again next year while more Khmer Krom’s lives worsen?

Also ask Vietnam to extend an invitation to the UN special rapporteurs that focus on areas covered by the agenda of the UN PFII such as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapporteur on Health etc.

Madame Chair, Forum Members, and the indigenous peoples of the world, I thank you for your support and solidary.

Terriorities, Lands and Natural Resources by Romy Thach

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
14-25 May 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York City
Delegation: Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Special Theme: Territories, Lands and Natural Resources
Speaker: Romy Thach

Madame Chair,

We would like to congratulate you on your reelection as chair of the UNPFII. We also would like to thank you for visiting our community in exile at the temple in Cambodia in February. Our people that have been forced from our homelands were pleased to meet a member of the international community that cares about our struggle for self-determination.

We will begin with recommendations to ensure our connection to our sacred homelands in the face of dire circumstances denying our identity.

  • KKF seeks the assistance of the United Nations mechanisms for conflict prevention and reconciliation to encourage Vietnam’s recognition of the Khmer Krom people as the indigenous peoples of Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Without doing so, we feel that Vietnam does not fully appreciate the importance of land for the basic survival of the Khmer Krom people.
  • Request the assistance of IOM to work with the Vietnam government to initiate programs to resolve land claims and ensure that the indigenous Khmer Krom people are compensated for their lost of farmlands as well as a return to own land. There are many land claims since 1970. Ask for return of our ancestral lands and properties that were unlawfully taken away by the State and by the Vietnamese newcomers.
  • Ask that Vietnam adopt a national act to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples in Vietnam to their traditional lands and territories specifically the Khmer Krom people as the indigenous peoples linked historically and spiritually to the Mekong Delta. Create and implement non-discriminatory indigenous land laws that respect and protects the lands of the Khmer Krom people and prevent further acts of illegal land grabbing by Vietnamese authorities.
  • Ask that IFAD fund a project to allow Khmer Krom farmers to return to their fields to produce traditional foods for their community. Canal projects that allow salt water into fresh water rice farming area must be stopped immediately to avoid destroying more of Khmer Krom’s land.
  • Request the assistance of UNITAR to provide essential training for the Asia region to enhance conflict resolutions and peace building capabilities between governments and indigenous peoples.
  • Seek the assistance of UNDP to promote and ensure that the indigenous peoples are presented in all decision making for positive programs focusing on reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals for the Khmer people
  • Seek the support of international agencies such as FAO and WHO to provide assistance to examine polluted land to determine its source that has caused thousands of blind farmers and to return the farmers to their traditional land to provide the fundamental nutrition for our peoples. Ask that Vietnam start implementing more effective local systems of monitoring the use of pesticides and their damage to the ecosystem in our homeland.
  • Ask that UNESCO help preserve the sacred sites for all of humanity to share under the UNESCO World Heritage program. One of the first locations that immediately needs protection to preserve Sambua Rangsey temple which was built in 373AD at Tra Khao commune, Hoa An Village, Cau Ke district, Tra Vinh province.
  • Billions of dollars of profit from oil and natural gas extraction in our homeland and our sea at Ocap (renamed Vung Tau) province must cease going to the multinational corporations and corrupt state agencies and develop a program that ensures the collective economic well being of the Khmer communities’ standard of living.
  • Ask that Vietnam start recognize and implement the policy of free, prior and informed consent when implementing programs that encourages participation and consultation with the local Khmer-Krom on all future development projects which take place in their homeland.

Madame Chair, we are convinced that the above measures will improve the living conditions of the Khmer Krom people living under extreme poverty. Such recommendations will help Vietnam achieve Millennium Development goals.

Lastly, we would like to reaffirm our support for the adoption of the Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you.