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.

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?