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.

Vietnam Cancels Khmer Krom Side Event at UNPFII

In true communist style, the Vietnam government representatives have cancelled a side event organized by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation to screen Rebecca Sommer’s film entitled, “Eliminated without bleeding” to be held on 23nd May 2007.

Detailing the heart breaking story and struggle of the Khmer Krom people in Kampuchea-Krom, the documentary is the first of its kind to portray the startling reality of indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta.

Yesterday, the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation received correspondence from Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stating that Vietnam has issued a formal complaint to cancel the side event on the basis of having two scheduled screening of two films on UN premises on 22 May (“Hunted like Animals”)and on 23 May (Eliminated without Blood”).

Despite such acts to subdue the voices of the Khmer Krom people, KKF will be continue to host the side event speaking about the human rights situation in Vietnam.

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Click here to see film on YouTube presented by Rebecca Sommers

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 2

UNPFII 2009: Item 3(c) Vietnam Intervention part 2

Just before the closing of the Forum on Tuesday, Vietnam was given time to make it full statement. The Vietnamese government representative once again reaffirms its objection to the participation of the members of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and launches into a detailed reponse on what Vietnam has been doing to help Khmer Krom out.
Full statement audio

Item 4g: Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples – English

Sixth Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 4g: Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Joint Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
& Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Romy Thach
Tuesday 23 May 2007

Madame Chair,
Thank you for allowing me to speak. The objectives of the MDGs are the main focus of this forum. Our people continue to live in extreme poverty, often forgotten because of their ethnic background and geographic location. Very little know the existence of MDGs let alone be an active participant in identifying their needs from an indigenous perspective.

We believe that the main problem which arises is the issue of assistance to the zones mostly affected and should not be discriminatory against indigenous or ethnic peoples concerned.

If Vietnam wants to achieve MDGs, we would like to propose the following recommendations:

  • Reiterate our request that Vietnam recognize the Khmer Krom people and Degar people are the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands respectively.
  • On the conclusion of the first decade and in preparation of the second decade ask the Vietnam government to invite UN Special Rapporteur on Health, Education and Human Rights to determine the real situation at the ground level.
  • Ask that Vietnam with the help of the Permanent Forum to establish a series of meeting and dialogues to establish a working partnership with our organizations to ensure that the needs of indigenous peoples are well represented.
  • Strongly urge Vietnam to initiate a review of national legislation to incorporate indigenous laws that recognizes the Khmer Krom people and the Montagnard people as the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta region and of Central Highlands respectively.
  • Reaffirm the need of Vietnam to incorporate indigenous tradition learning system, especially in the Khmer and Degar languages into formal and informal education in all areas. The ceremonies punctuating the life of our people should not be ignored at the school.
  • Ask that Vietnam work in collaboration with our indigenous organization and NGOs such as UNESCO and CEDAW to create a series of workshops to educate about their basic rights and fundamental freedoms including women’s rights.

Madame Chair, as reported by numerous non governmental organizations in recent days, the lack of recognition of indigenous peoples by government such as Vietnam poses a great barrier for a collaborative achievement of the MDGs. Vietnam’s one way policies prevents the important work of our organizations to increase the knowledge and access of our people to readily available human rights mechanisms. Rather than foster an environment in which we can collaborate collectively, Vietnam has always rejected our suggestions even at the international level.

It has now been four years since Vietnam rejects our positive contribution to the Permanent Forum. We believe for the mutual interest of our indigenous peoples that we start working together to better the lives of our indigenous peoples.

For that reason, we believe that the earlier the work takes place, the earlier our people can benefit from such measurements adapted to their needs.

UNPFII 2009: Item 7 Future work

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Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 7: Future work
The Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Speaker: Somalin Thach

Madame Chair,

The future work of the UN PFII is essential to our existence. The UN PFII is an important space for indigenous peoples of Asia to raise their rights and stand in solidarity for sustainable development that respects our cultural heritage. We have appreciated the new developments in the review process initiated this year with the UN specialized agencies thoroughly presenting their commitment to indigenous peoples. The emerging dialogue is and will continue to be very important in future sessions of the UN PFII.

We would like to suggest the following recommendations:

  • Ask that the Permanent Forum help to set up a half day discussion to possible mechanisms for the recognition of Unrecognised and represented peoples that are not respected by their governments.
  • 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 meetings 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.
  • Urge Vietnam to work in collaboration with UN specialised agencies such as UNESCO and UNDP to help translate the UNDRIP into the Khmer and Vietnamese languages and distribute to our people on the ground.
  • Reaffirm the need for a collaborative approach to create a National Plan of Action which includes a legal framework to recognise the Khmer Krom people as the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta region.

We are the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta. Our parents were forced to flee Vietnam because of the discriminatory system created against our people on basis of our identity and unique culture. Even after the decades of gross human rights violations, our relatives and elders remain in our homeland standing up and facing severe repercussions for doing exactly what we are doing here.

We speak here every PFII session in honor of our brave people silenced and living in fear due to the human rights violations recognized in international law by governments as well as NGOs such as Human Rights Watch. I humbly ask, If we are not here to represent our people today at the UNPFII, who will? Vietnam has wanted to silence us, however, we sincerely will continue speaking the truth.

I want nothing more but to live in my homeland as my ancestors have been speaking our indigenous language and practicing our unique cultural heritage. Unfortunately the tone and tactics in Vietnam indicate my homecoming would not be very welcoming.

Madame Chair, we strongly believe that it is time that Vietnam moves beyond the denial of our right to speak at this Permanent Forum and put into practice the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by its very own Constitution and the UN DRIP.

We ask that Vietnam open their minds as well as their hearts and embrace the spirit of working in partnership so that we can work together to better the lives of the Khmer Krom peoples.

With the world as our witness, I stand up for our voiceless women at home to lead by example and extend our hand of friendship, reconciliation and peace in the hope that we can finally live together in a culture of human rights. Will Vietnam make history today and accept our hand of trust? Let’s shake as young women of South East Asia for a future of freedom, respect and equality for all.

UNPFII: Future Works

Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Item 9: Future Work
Joint Statement of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation

Speaker: Soda Luu

Madame Chair,

We are particular pleased with the development of Monday‘s half day session on Asia as it provided a great opportunity for the indigenous organizations, experts and governments alike to have a dialogue on issues that specifically affects us. One issue that remains a major obstacle for indigenous groups in South East Asia, such as Vietnam is the lack of recognition by governments of our claim as indigenous peoples.

We are encouraged by the comment of Special Rapporteur Mr. Stavenhagen in urging the government of Vietnam to accept the human rights situation and start using the readily available human rights instruments and mechanism to resolve such serious issues, including the recommendations by our indigenous organizations. Mr. Stavenhagen also encouraged the government of Vietnam to respond to his letters when he sends them asking for clarification on human rights situation in indigenous communities of Vietnam.

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

  • Ask that all governments, especially the Asian governments to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a sign of their long term commitment and respect for indigenous peoples.
  • Ask that the special focus on a half day on Asia continue in next year’s session to emphasize further focus on finding solutions for successful implementation of MDGs with the full participation of indigenous peoples.
  • To have a special session to determine how far the MDGs have been reached. For example, instead of giving missionary statements, we would like the government of Vietnam to provide a more specific and concrete report on the progress of the MDGs and how indigenous peoples, if any are collaboratively involved.
  • Ask that the Permanent Forum selects the special theme be climate change. At a recent United Nations University conference at UN Headquarters “Environmental Refugees: The Forgotten Migrants”, Joanos Boardi, Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security noted that if the temperature increases and the water level rises, the Mekong Delta will be one foot underwater. Therefore, we believe this imminent issue should be the focus for the 7th session of the UNPFII as it attaches great importance to our peoples. We also ask to build on the work at the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples focusing on climate change and human rights.
  • Request the help of the Permanent Forum members and Madame Chair to help set up a series of meeting with KKF, 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 effort by all.

For the last four years, Vietnam has adamantly denied our positive contribution to the Forum and rejected all our information regarding human rights violation as “groundless information” and accused us of having a political agenda. Our only agenda is human rights.

We encourage the government of Vietnam to exercise the spirit of compassion towards our people especially towards our Buddhist monks who are thirsty for justice and peace and the right to self determination.

Thank you.

Item 3: Climate Change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges

Collective Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation
Speaker: Ricky Tran

Madame Chair,

Land is the soil in which we walk, live and breathe. Having lived on the Mekong Delta region for centuries, our people love harvesting our growing rice fields. We have lived in harmony with our rich land and natural resources. Vietnam armed with no knowledge or respect of the land has over the decades created canals which have destroyed our lands, channelling salt and changing the fundamental landscape of our land.

The onset of climate change means that the rich fertile lands of the Mekong Delta will be submerged if the world’s temperature increases by only one degree. Not only will rich fertile lands disappear but millions of Khmer Krom people will be potentially displaced and deeper entrenched in poverty.

Our homeland is the core of our human rights promotion and protection. Climate change drastically changes our living conditions and our ability to survive in the face of rising seas due to no actions of our own.

In the low lying delta of the Mekong, climate change is causing increased flooding in the area. Already we are witnessing an increased salienation of our valuable water destroying our crops that we depend on for nutrition and maintaining our basic health.

We are witnessing an ever increasing impact on our right to health. However, if policy and practices continue we will surely be struggling to exercise our right of self-determination as our homeland will be submerged. How can one inhabit a homeland that is underwater? Where will our people live? How can we leave our lands our ancestors have inhabited since time immemorial? We request concerted actions. The path of development by Vietnam since its invasion of our ancestral lands has damaged the environment as never before. We have a moral, collective duty to restore the natural state of nature in Kampuchea Krom.

We would like to recommend the following:

• Request the assistance of the Permanent Forum to initiate a dialogue between Vietnam and KKF to take immediate action to mitigate the climate change impacts on our indigenous community

• Ask UNPFII to help initiate a consultation process on climate change between the Khmer Krom people and Vietnam to ensure indigenous peoples take an active role in policy development and dialogue.

• Seek the help of UNESCO to create a publication that classifies the important biodiversity of Kampuchea Krom in our own indigenous language as a teaching tool for future generations that will can serve as a catalyst for education.

• In collaboration with UNDP, the Khmer experience and culture can shape future development that can combat the current impacts of climate change and initiate a model of sustainable development. .

• Seek the help of UNDP, UNEP and WMO to establish an agency in Vietnam with access to the advanced weather technologies to give early warning to the extreme weather conditions focusing only on Mekong Delta, fully supported by the government and the international community

• Ask UNICEF to help initiate projects which will help to distribute have climate change information and awareness, more importantly translate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples document into their traditional language, Khmer and distributed to all areas and all people including the Khmer Krom children. Climate education holds the key for prevention and preparation for this terrifying phenomenon.

• Seek the help of UNHABITAT to develop an effective system of providing aid to those who are in need when experiencing losses through the effect of climate change such as floods and typhoons.

• Ask that UNEP assist in establishing a sustainable land management programme to protect our livelihoods such as planting trees to control the flow of floodwater to avoid large amount of damages to the farmland, properties and food supplies.

• Seek adequate technical and financial support from the international communities such UNDP and the World Bank in terms of establishing new agencies and organisations and implementing programmes and strategies.

• Seek the help of UNEP to develop a flood protection strategy and assets management in place such as setting up workshops on flood management, looking at various techniques and approaches to improve the management of floods and local preparedness to mitigate the negative effect.

• Ask that Vietnam stop demanding that Khmer Krom blindly follow all their rules, regulations and policies without a feedback process or an opportunity for Khmer Krom farmers to participate in a constructive dialogue on sustainable development. .

Madame Chair, climate change is a threat to our civilisation and existence on this earth. In order to halt further damages to our natural land and resources, we must set aside our differences and work together.

Vietnam says it is ready for the world when it announced that it ready for human rights dialogue but is it really ready to participate in a genuine partnership to save our planet?

Item 7: Urbanization and Migration of indigenous peoples

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Joint Statement by the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation
Item 7: Urbanization and Migration of indigenous peoples
Speaker: Sothy Kien

Madame Chair, 

Today’s agenda focusing on specific region of Asia and theme of Urbanization is a great opportunity to meet the aspirations of this forum to increase positive dialogue between the actors to protect human rights in partnership and meet the MDGs for our people.

While we know we have differences with the government, we desire a dialogue. We will practice our spiritual beliefs of compassion to agree to the proposed meeting between Vietnam and KKF.

We also agree with the inclusion of SR Stavenhagen as the government was responding to his report. If UNPFII chair Tauli-Corpuz can also assist, we believe we could arrange a series of dialogues that allow for us to return to the 7th UNPFII session with some positive direction to secure the fundamental freedoms in Asia, specifically in Kampuchea Krom of Vietnam.

Madame Chair, item 7 attaches significant for the Khmer Krom people as majority of our people are from the
rural areas of Vietnam. Traditionally farmers, the rich fertile Mekong delta has provided an essential source of food and survival for the indigenous Khmer Krom people. Recent canals projects initiated by Vietnam authorities have destroyed much of the rice fields by channeling salt water into fresh water farming, forcing thousands to abandon their home and
migrate to already crowded cities.

Like a domino affect, elevated levels of poverty, lack of education and landlessness has resulted in many Khmer
Krom women and young girls getting caught with trafficking rings and finding employment that violate their
culture and traditional lifestyles. We would like to recommend the following:

▪ Request that Vietnam consult indigenous peoples before creating canals projects on their ancestral lands by
the use of free and informed consent.
▪ Ask Vietnam to adopt the ILO 169 Convention to ensure the protection of Khmer Krom and Degar people
and in recognition of their vulnerability and poverty.
▪ Seek the assistance of UN-HABITAT to create initiatives to help provide adequate shelter and housing for
homeless Khmer Krom.
▪ Ask that Vietnam establish and implement national laws to protect lands of indigenous peoples from further
illegal land grabbing.
▪ Ask that Vietnam start taking serious and immediately actions to process land claims by indigenous peoples.
▪ Seek the help of Permanent Forum members to urge Vietnam to recognize the importance of the sacred
homeland of Kampuchea Krom to the Khmer Krom people. Also, that Vietnam work in collaboration with UN
agencies to recognize that the further taking of land results in the negative direction of indicators for the livelihood of indigenous peoples. Recognizing land and prevention of migration would assist Vietnam in reaching the
8 MDGs and also its obligation of human rights protection and promotion under international laws.

Madame Chair, Vietnam continues to deny the truth of our statement, in that regards, we would like to urge
Vietnam to read the latest report on the Church of Asia, UNPO, US commission on International Religious Freedom for the latest violation against the Khmer Krom people.

It is our sincere hope today will be a turning point in which a series of dialogues can happen so that the voice of
our peoples can be heard.

Thank You

 

Item 4: Economic and Social Development

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Seventh Session
Thursday, April 25, 2008
Speaker: Sothy Kien
Collective Statement by Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation

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Madame Chair,

We would like to say thank you to Vietnam and the other countries for taking the positive step of supporting the 13 September 2007 adoption of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, unlike many of our indigenous Native American and Native Canadian brothers and sisters, our people from Asia are not recognized at all.

We believe unless such recognition occurs, our people will continue to be denied our basic fundamental freedoms as guaranteed under the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Already our rights are not realized. Future work will become irrelevant at the international level and for each individual Khmer if we are not recognized.

Taking advantage of the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we would like to request the help the Permanent Forum and governments around the world to help set up an appropriate timeframe for which countries who has not yet recognized its indigenous people to do so. The adoption must not only be superficial but substantive in the daily lives of indigenous peoples.

During Human Rights Council meeting last March, Vietnam announced that it was ready for human rights dialogue. For the last four years, we have affirmed the need of an open dialogue between Vietnam and the KKF on human rights at the Permanent Forum. Let us make a historic moment and start a human rights dialogue here today.

We would to contribute the following recommendation to the Permanent Forum in regards to this item:

• Request the aid of the Permanent Forum to set up an open dialogue between Vietnam and KKF during a session on the Permanent Forum.

• Through such interactions, we can begin to look at ways in which we can initiate the process of recognizing the Khmer Krom people and the Montagnard as indigenous peoples and explore effective mechanisms to ensure that they are included in free and informed decision making processes affecting Khmer communities.

• Ask that Vietnam provides a detailed summary of specific policies or programs targeting Indigenous Peoples that are currently taking place or proposed in their Five Year Socio-Economic Development Plan.

• That a national education campaign is established in Khmer language about the MDGs as well as international human rights instruments such as CEDAW, so our Khmer-Krom people are aware of their basic rights and able to be active participants.

• That the consultation and implementation of such national plans are conducted under the principles of free, prior and informed consent with indigenous groups and local people to ensure that such programs do not destroy the ancestral lands and compromise our traditions

• Request that the aid from the World Bank and IMF to allocate specific funds donated to Vietnam to create vocational programs in the local areas where millions of the indigenous Khmer Krom people who are living in the Mekong Delta.

• Ask that Vietnam work in close collaboration in genuine partnership with specialized agencies and KKF and the Montagnard Foundation to meet mutual objectives.

• Seek a reversal of current trend of urbanization and Vietnamization. KKF ask that victims of the State’s failure or disastrous projects that result in contaminating land be immediately compensated to provide the basic living essentials and to halt the influx of Khmer Krom people being forced to move to other provinces to find employment.

• Request the aid of FAO, ILO and Vietnam to help provide employment opportunities for many local Khmer Krom people who are now finding themselves landless as result of land confiscation by corporations and the country of Vietnam.

• Ask that all special inter-agencies be open to workshops in Kampuchea Krom and where our people live in large diaspora around the world to allow for more effective partnership from indigenous organizations about policies and programs taking place in our homelands

• Ask that Vietnam allows independent organizations to be formed to enable further social and cultural development of indigenous peoples.

• Ask for projects that will integrate the indigenous peoples into mainstream society be culturally appropriate and sensitive to their distinctive culture without eroding their sense of identity.

• While Vietnam is recognized as Asia’s second fastest growing economy in recent years with GDP annually increasing over 8% and making 138.6 Billion USD in 2005, the rural areas where Khmer Krom people are living, does not have a proportional share of Vietnam’s social and economic progress. The KKF remain behind as we are deemed backward by the Vietnam government. We demand to be equal partners for the economic and social development of our homeland.

We are particularly concern that the MDGs for indigenous peoples will not be met if Vietnam continues to undermine the positive contribution of our work at the Permanent Forum.

Thank you Madame Chair