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)

[youtube]0euKWd2Xp_o[/youtube]

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

[youtube]g5RRKL1GilM[/youtube]

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

UNPFII: Human Rights

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 14-25 May 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York City

Speaker: Venerable Pin Diep
Item 4f: Human Rights

Joint Statement of United Association Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Buddhist Monks, Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, Montagnard Foundation

Madame Chair,

Viet Nam comes here to boast its material growth yet its maniacal genocide on indigenous peoples is all the world knows about as more and more human rights violations are being recorded in the media of the world. Like a broken record, the government comes for its fourth year rejecting our participation as you just heard this morning. We will continue to speak truth to power in the streets of our homeland but also the sessions of human rights instruments at the UN.

The intervention this morning labeled our homeland as a marginal area. It is the essence of our existence. It is the core of our cultural survival. While the government speaks of preservation, we are not jam or jelly. We are an indigenous peoples. Our culture must be allowed to be perpetuated through the exercise of our human rights.

Unfortunately, there are many parts of the statement that aren’t true. However, we will focus on just one aspect – the right to health under the ICESCR. The government talks about clinics. However, for four years we have raised the issue of blind farmers and asked the government for a dialogue for positive solutions. Instead, there is a diatribe labeling us as separatists. We have always lived in the Mekong Delta. We aren’t going anywhere. We desire to exercise our right of self-determination. We recommend the government invite the Special Rapporteur on Health to Mekong Delta. This could begin a dialogue we have been requesting for years.

Last year, Vietnam was removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern by the US prior to entering WTO. Recent events in Kampuchea-Krom, however displays a stark reality of increased human rights violations and religious prosecution of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and civilians and Degar people.

The use of human rights instruments such as peaceful demonstrations and accessing human rights materials published by our organization have been met with unnecessary military action against our monks. At least nine monks were defrocked and imprisoned after participating in a peaceful protest in the Soc Trang on 22nd February 2007. Five of the defrocked monks have recently been sentenced to 2-5 years imprisonment by Vietnam government for the alleged crime of organizing a non violent protest.

Two Buddhist monks aged 17 were arrested and defrocked for capturing the unfolding events of monks being defrocked by Vietnamese authorities. This is a violation of the CRC and Vietnam is a party to the most widely ratified international human rights instrument.

Madame Chair, such actions by the Vietnam are unnecessarily against our Buddhist. As practitioner of Theravada Buddhism, it is our nature to promote peace and harmony, not conflict against the greater Vietnamese community.

We would like to propose the following recommendations:

  • Reaffirm the recommendation by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to place Vietnam back on CPC List
  • Ask that United Nations and world governments encourage Vietnam to uphold the international human rights treaties by immediately releasing all fifteen defrocked Buddhist monks.
  • Ask that Vietnam allow our Buddhist monks to create an independent religious organization to promote our rich history, religion and culture and not one that only promotes the one policy propaganda of the Vietnamese government.
  • Ask that Vietnam recognize and respect the rights of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks and civilians to practice their religion as defined by their culture rather by the convenient of the State.
  • Urge the help of the Permanent Forum and UN to send a Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom to oppressed areas of Tra Vinh and Soc Trang province.
  • Ask Vietnam to acknowledge and allow the right of individuals and religious practitioners to take part in nonviolent demonstrations as a means to express their concerns and opinions by creating and adopting national laws to allow indigenous peoples to use mechanisms of human right.
  • Request the help of UNESCO to translate UN documents including into Khmer and create workshops to allow for greater awareness and protect for our monks.

 

Madame Chair, the intervention by the Vietnam government shows the lack of recognition our rights to be here at the forum. Our objectives like that of our indigenous brothers and sisters are to provide a resounding voice on behalf of our indigenous peoples.

The fact that Buddhist monks are protesting suggest that the work of our indigenous organization is finally reaching our people back home and that they are finally grasping the hungry knowledge of their rights and fundamental freedoms. However, such knowledge remains dangerous especially with the renew oppression by Vietnam to halt all human rights movement.

Lastly, we would like to appeal to all peoples who love peace and harmony to help our Buddhist monks find justice in world dominated by fear tactics and one way policies.

UNPFII Fifth Session: Item 3

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: Jeffrey Kim
Item 3

Madame Chair,

One of the biggest concerns for the Khmer Krom people is the lack of consultation of the Vietnamese government with our people including the Khmers Kampuchea Krom Federation (KKF), an organization representing the Khmer Krom people in South Vietnam. The denial that the Khmer Krom people are not indigenous peoples by the Vietnamese government remains an obstacle in our self determination. KKF’s work continues to be undermined and ineffective, our people disadvantaged and poorly represented with limited access to the vast resources and financial assistance that Vietnam has received from International Financial Institutions and UN specialized agencies. The KKF demands the aid pouring into Vietnam reaches the people in need and a global partnership for development is established.

• To ensure effective implementation of these goals, a two-way communication system should be installed or created between the Vietnamese government and the Indigenous Khmer Krom people in which the UN or a nominated independent organization shall act as a mediator to create a climate of conflict transformation.

• The Vietnamese government needs to work with UNESCO with the full participation of the indigenous Khmer Krom people including the KKF to create initiatives and indigenous specific programs.

• Programs that educate people about their rights and culture should be created, translated in their native language, promoted and implemented immediately to ensure indigenous people have equal access to these facilities.

• Sufficient funding needs to be allocated to combat the high child morality rates and empowering indigenous women through UNFPA and UNIFEM.

• Programs initiated needs to be tailor specific and practical to indigenous peoples

• To ensure reports and claims are correct as reported by the Vietnamese government, the Special Rapporteur must pay a compulsory visit to Vietnam to verify the situation of Khmer Krom people on the ground in South Vietnam.

• Creditable evidence of abuse of indigenous peoples by the responsible government should be reviewed by the UN and prompt action should be taken to allow for the realization of the MDGs by the Khmer Krom.

• A detailed annual report focusing on the human rights situation on the ground should be provided to members of the forum and the indigenous peoples by the Vietnamese government so new ideas may be recommended.

I am aware there are many more speakers sharing their story of struggle in their homelands that are similar. Therefore, I will provide only one example of how the MDGs are currently not being taken seriously by the government and if we do not redefine based on indigenous indicators will result in harm to our people. The Vietnam government admits in its ethnic minorities report, which doesn’t recognize us as indigenous peoples, claims Khmer have a high rate of illiteracy with poor information accessibility. This is true. However, forcing us to learn Vietnamese and only providing information not in our indigenous language will perpetuate the problem not promote a positive solution for our peoples daily enduring the harmful policies at the hands of the government.

Madam Chair, projects needs to feasible and practical to ensure effective implementation. Specifically in our case, we implore the UN to help set up a system which allows for direct consultation with the Vietnamese government so that we as an indigenous organisations may have a more active role in our self determination.

Thank you Madam Chair

 

Intervention Statement by Vietnam Delegation to UNPFII

My delegation wishes to raise concern in regards to a paragraph page 4 for SR Stavenhagen statement which partially concerns the central highland region in Vietnam.

Madame Chair person, my delegations have been participating in this Permanent Forum with the view to provide the Forum with the actual information of ethnic minorities on the ground, on their needs, the issues as well as the government’s efforts to address them.

By doing so, my delegation hopes that this will facilitate the deliberation and adoption that will be effective in addressing the needs of the people at the ground. Therefore, we have in many occasions rejected groundless information provided by some so called [organizations] with questionable political agenda who is based elsewhere outside the country.

Yet it is most unfortunate and disheartening to see that in the Forum such groundless information is more easily picked up coming to the Forum than information provided by my government including those on the government’s effort benefiting all fifty three ethnic minorities in Vietnam; including those in the Central Highlands of Vietnam as stated in the our previous statements.

Also on the question of information and dissidents information. One statement we heard earlier today asserted that my government
Madam Chair person, the constitution and laws of Vietnam guarantees freedom of religion and belief. They also guarantee the principles of equality of all citizens before the law. And that is the principle that we continue to uphold in building the law of the country.

All those who committed crimes punishable under the pinit code will be according prosecuted regards of their ethnicity and religion.

Thank you Madame Chair person.


UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Stavenhagen Rodolfo in response to Vietnam intervention

I am not sure that some of the issues I referred there are groundless because they have been provided by peoples who provide serious information about my situation. But as Special Rapporteur, of course, very much appreciate and welcome further information on these issues which is precisely the purpose of dialogues that Madame Chair person has asked us to engage in.

Let me just say that over there years that I have sent some communications to the governments of Vietnam regarding some complaints from various sources and I shall request the government of Vietnam to provide an answer to through the effective means available mechanisms and procedures of the Special Rapporteur.

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 1

Vietnam representatives attempts to make an intervention following the speech of Miss. Marly Son but launches into a full statement. See how the Chair Madame responded.

Vietnam government representative: Madame Chair,
I would like to say thank you for convening this important section, my delegations high appreciates the effort of the secretariat and the vast majority of participants at this Permanent Forum in protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples. We support the spirit of dialogue and cooperation which most of the participants have been engaged in their consideration.

It is in the spirit that we commit always to working closely with other participants to contribute to the success of this forum. My delegations is however, deeply concerned about the registration procedures of the Forum’s participation. We believe that constructive dialogue and sincere cooperation can only be established if the Forum is attended and addressed by right participants who are well informed and therefore truly capable of representing indigenous peoples and discussing genuine concerns of indigenous peoples.

With this in mind, we are obliged to express our objection to the participation and statement just made by Khmers Krom Federation. This so called Federation cannot represent Vietnamese indigenous peoples as they have been based outside the country for many decades. Without any knowledge or reality on the ground, driven by political motivation, they have carried out separatist activities against Vietnamese government and peoples and provoking disunity amongst the Vietnamese peoples. Having provided the Forum’s participants with groundless and distorted information, the only proof is that they are keeping a blind eye is the fact that the Vietnamese nation has worked very hard to handle the war and emerged peaceful and united and they are enjoying a much better live.

All the 54 ethnic groups are pure brothers and sisters of the Vietnamese family with an equal footing in every field and cooperation. Participating in this forum, with such political fabrication, the so called Khmer Krom Federation are actually discrediting this respected Forum, misrepresenting the indigenous peoples in Vietnam, discrediting our section and wasting our time.

Madame Chair, while maintaining our reservation at maintaining…

Madame Chair: Hits the hammer and tells Vietnam to conclude

VN Representative: Madame Chair, we believe we have the right to respond

Vietnam representative wants to continue but Madame Chair said no. Madame Chair announces that she will move to the next speaker. Unhappy, Vietnam representative uses her sign to tap the front desk for attention. After a few attempts, she is forced to give up as Madame Chair moves to the next speaker.

Participants of the Forum applauds Madame Chair for her final decision.